Collaborate on Your Next Mixed-Media Art Project

Ever since learning about round-robin and similar kinds of collaborative mixed-media art projects, I've wanted to be part of one. But I haven't made the effort to join or organize a round-robin for a couple of reasons.

mixed-media art project collaboration
Our mixed-media Valentine collaboration.

1. I don't feel that confident about my art. What if the other kids make fun of my contributions? What if I make a mistake and "ruin" the project?

2. I'm not that organized. I just haven't gotten my act together to seek out or start a collaborative art project. One would have to practically land on my doorstep for me to get involved.

Well, earlier this month, one did. Jenn Mason organized an office-wide mixed-media Valentine collage project for the Cloth Paper Scissors-Quilting Arts-Stitch team.

Jenn gave us a heads up the week before, encouraging us to bring in any ephemera, fabric, etc., we'd like to use. On Valentine's Day, she brought in paints, glazes, stencils, gel medium, and her own papers and fabric, plus an easel and a canvas. Throughout the day, everyone took a few minutes to visit the art and add her own touches. After each addition, we snapped a picture.

We have a bunch of talented people here, and at first I was hesitant to cover up any part of the previous design (see #1 above). But I took a deep breath and plunged in, gluing a bit of selvedge here and some papers there. I was pleased.

The next challenge came when I went back an hour or so later: some of my additions had been covered up! I hadn't thought about that; I had lost some control over my creative contribution. But I quickly realized that was part of the collaborative process.

Jenn took all the still shots and put them together in a "time-lapse" video for all to see.

mixed media painting
Jamie Fingal shows an example of one phase of her group's collaborative painting project on "QATV" Episode 906.

The takeaways?

  • Working collaboratively takes some organization (thanks, Jenn).
  • You have to let go of some of your ego, but also recognize that everyone's contribution is valid and valuable, including yours.
  • Participating in a collaborative piece of art opens your mind to creative possibilities you might not have thought of.
  • It's a ton of fun.

I liked the spontaneity of this project, and now I'm eager to find similar ways of collaborate on a project with others. One that caught my eye is Jamie Fingal's group project, Musical Chairs: A Painted Canvas Adventure, featured in Episode 906 of "Quilting Arts TV." Jamie and friends take turns painting canvas to music. They later cut the fabric up and use in different art projects. 

You can download "QATV" Episode 906 alone, which also has an easy faux-quilted pillow project made with decorative ribbons, and a tutorial on personalizing your artwork with hand stitching. It looks like a blast!


P.S. Have you worked on a round-robin, swap, or other collaborative art project? What was it like for you? Any advice for someone who's never done it? Comment below!

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