Mixed-Media Art: Focus on the Journey

I tend to think of mixed-media art as that which employs more than one medium in a piece. But after spending some time observing mixed-media artist Marshall Arisman, my eyes have been opened to an alternative interpretation. Marshall uses a variety of media and techniques (such as papier-mâché and drawing) in the process of creating a piece; they inform the eventual artwork but aren't always part of it.

mixed media painting by marshall arisman
A mixed-media painting by Marshall Arisman
from his Ayahuasca Series.

As my colleague Artist Daily Editor Courtney Jordan put it, "Working with historic and traditional methods, Marshall builds a bridge between contemporary themes and the exacting practices of the artistic greats of the past, and yet he isn't content to be a copyist with his work.

"Instead he chooses to mix media and create art that is layered in different drawing, painting, and sculpting techniques that combine old and new methods."

In his latest instructional DVD, "Modern Mixed Media," Arisman takes viewers into his studio space and shows how his creative mixed-media process flows.

He starts by creating visual references out of papier-mâché and then demonstrates a wide variety of drawing techniques that include using a comb and roller. (He buys cheap combs from the drugstore and cuts them up, dipping them in ink to create a pen-and-ink drawing shortcut.) He explains how alternative methods of drawing open up creative doorways for him, and that a vast variety of textures are available to you if you work outside the box.

Marshall uses part of a comb to create
cross-hatching.

"All children are natural-born storytellers," says Marshall near the beginning of the video. And Marshall is one, too.

As he mixes papier-mâché medium by hand or sets up a light source, he relates tales like the one about his attempt to help his mother make money from her art by arranging for the Smithsonian to order 200 sheep sculptures from her.

The experience, he abashedly explains, led his mother to quit making art. Marshall sums up the story by observing that, "making art and selling art are two different processes."

These little anecdotes inform even as they entertain.

It's clear that Marshall enjoys the process of making art and also relishes sharing his process with other artists. I learned a lot about several techniques from viewing this video. I hope you find that Modern Mixed Media with Marshall Arisman enlightens you in the same way it did me.

P.S. Do you enjoy the journey of making mixed-media art, or the destination? What aspects do you find most fulfilling or enlightening. Share in the comments section below.

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