Not All Mixed-Media Portraits Are Happy-Faced

Masks are a popular costume accessory on Halloween, and it’s no surprise. It’s fun to put our true selves into hiding for a respite, go on a little adventure, and create good times with friends at parties and trick-or-treating.

We can also use mixed-media portraits as a way of expressing who we want to be, who we admire, or who we are. Pam Carriker, featured in the Art Journaling Live DVD Face Mask, addresses this idea, as well as the nuts and bolts of how to create mixed-media portraits. And Pam’s not afraid to admit that when it comes to her creativity, she wears her heart on her sleeve.

Mixed-media portrait by artist Pam Carriker
“Pin” Letting Go (mixed-media canvas: bits of paper, acrylics, water-soluble crayon, graphite pencil, charcoal, stamps, and inks, 16×20) by Pam Carriker

Wearing My Heart On My Sleeve by Pam Carriker (from Cloth Paper Scissors)

“A while back, I stumbled onto a YouTube video Paulette Insall had posted on her blog. It showed her painting one of her lovely portraits at supersonic speed. I was intrigued. I had never attempted painting a portrait, but it looked so fun I thought I’d give it a try. One portrait led to another, and another, until most of my work is now paintings of women. As soon as I would finish one, I was itching to start the next. Why was that? I didn’t start to reflect on it until much later; I just knew I was compelled to paint portraits.

“Several comments on my blog and on other websites noted that the women in my portraits look sad and wistful. I’m generally not a sad person, but this is how the faces in my paintings came out. I started to wonder why. My portraits all revolve around the role of motherhood. I am a mom to three wonderful boys. One has left to serve our country in the Army, one is on the brink of beginning his college life, and one is still tucked safely under my wing. My work speaks about letting go, nurturing, providing—all things we moms do every day, in big and small ways.

“I have come to realize that painting these feelings into my portraits helps me process them. I look at the paintings when I’m done and see myself in each one. Not the happy-face self that I present to the world, but rather the deep, inner self that lurks in my heart. The silent voice that wants to scream, ‘Don’t leave, I’m not ready yet!’ Art has become a way of expressing that voice. When someone comments on my work and I hear them express the same feelings I had when I was creating it, it makes me aware of the common bonds all women share. It makes my heart sing that my work might evoke similar feelings in others. I feel I am wearing my ‘HeArt’ on my sleeve.

“I don’t think my ‘mother’s heart’ will ever be ready to let my children go, but my duty to my children will come before my own selfish desires. This is the way of all mothers. What our children don’t know is that we hold them in our hearts forever, locking away all of those precious memories in the safest of places. These are the feelings I have imbedded in my work, Letting Go.” ~P.C.

Pam shares her step-by-step demonstration for this mixed-media portrait in Cloth Paper Scissors. She also leads an introspective exercise for self-portraits in her DVD Face Mask which is included in Interweave’s 30% off digital downloads sale for today only.

Sharing our art makes us vulnerable to the interpretation (at best) of others. How do you allow your feelings to come through your art? Perhaps you use symbols or specific text and words in your art journal—there’s no wrong answer here. It’s my hope that newsletters such as this one help you find a way to preserve your own memories, fantasies, and your individuality.

Yours in art,


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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