Mixed-Media Art That Tells a Good Story

One of the things I love about art is that it reveals emotions we may not realize are so close to the surface. As we take the first steps to create something new, those emotions and ideas may shift, and begin to tell a story. That’s where the sweet spot is. When you can look at a piece of art and be taken beyond what you can see, magic happens.

That extra layer–the story a piece of art evokes–is the theme of Incite 3, The Best of Mixed-Media: The Art of Storytelling (part of the Incite: The Best of Mixed-Media 3-Year Collection). The artists featured in this book have infused their work with meaning, and by studying these pieces you can learn how to do the same. “We all love a good story,” says editor Tonia Jenny, “and as artists, whether we realize it or not, we are all storytellers!”

Protected (polymer clay, acrylic paint, nails, and steel wire, 7x4x3) by Penne Mobley

“All of my artworks tell a story,” says artist Penne Mobley. “It begins with their patina, which gives you the feeling that they have been here a long time and that they have passed through many hands. The story of each piece is only revealed to me when the piece is done. My hands work as if they have been told what to do next by some inner voice. After Protected (above) was finished, I looked at it and thought, How well protected this creature looks. He has a protective shell, nails in his head to keep others at a distance, a bird on his back looking out for anything approaching from the rear and wheels to move quickly if needed. He represents to me the need we all have at times to protect ourselves from harm.”

I’ll Be Home Late Tonight (pastel, acrylic, and colored pencil on illustration board, 26×28) by Jan Lucking

“I firmly believe that dogs and other animals display wisdom and intuition above and beyond natural instincts,” says mixed-media artist Jan Lucking, whose work is featured above. “My sleeping dog has always intrigued me. What could he possibly be dreaming as he whimpers, while his legs twitch restlessly? This picture is my take on a dog’s dream.

“On a warm July night lit by fireflies, a hound runs down an endless woodland trail, along with a fox, a rabbit and a bird, all of whom would normally be his prey. They are united on a random nocturnal adventure that may take all night. In the deep dark background, the tops of large trees are silhouetted against a brightly starred sky, and time becomes meaningless as a watch sheds its hands. The bird, who should be asleep after dark, tows his lucky wishbone as he tags along. Do they ponder anything beyond the moment? Does the dog worry that he’s lost? I doubt it. They live in the present, more connected than you or I. The dark light bulb and broken key represent severed connections to the real world.

“My rendering of this abstract moment uses realistic depictions of the animals. I accomplish my technique in layers, starting with colored pencils, followed by pastels and finally acrylics. Layering and combining these materials results in enhanced brightness and depth of colors, with a variety of textures and sharp contrasts.”

It takes courage to create a piece of art, and even more so to share it with others. I can relate to the attractive idea of being protected, which is why I appreciate Penne’s mixed-media art, and the story behind it.

Tonia adds, “While much of the art you’ll see speaks for itself, I encourage you to take the time to read the artists’ stories that accompany the art. You have countless stories within you, and it’s my hope Incite 3 will inspire you to tell more of them through your art, regardless of the type of stories they are.”

Jumpstart your story-telling adventure with the Incite: The Best of Mixed-Media 3-Year Collection, which includes all three editions from the Incite series–that’s hundreds of artworks to browse for inspiration, guidance, and encouragement.

Think about one of your pieces of art that tells a story, and share it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear it.

Celebrate your story,


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