As long as I’ve done mixed-media art, I’m always pleasantly surprised by how working on a piece both calms and refreshes me. Another way I ease into that tranquil zone is by looking at collections of amazing mixed-media art. For that, I turn to beautiful books that I know offer great art inspiration, allowing me to forget about the world for a bit. One of my favorites is Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew, edited by Tonia Jenny. If you’re not familiar with the Incite, The Best of Mixed Media series of books, you are in for a treat.
These books showcase the best of the best, with a substantial gallery of striking mixed-media art that will take you to your happy place. Incite 4 features 158 artworks that both calm and energize, offering a creative respite and recharging station that we all need from time to time. Getting lost in the pages of this book is so incredibly easy, and all you need to do is pick it up and open to any page.
No doubt you’ll recognize many of the contributing artists—several have been in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, such as Jodi Ohl, Annie O’Brien Gonzales, Darlene Olivia McElroy, and Karen O’Brien. You’ll discover new favorites as well, and styles and subjects rendered in every medium: abstract, realism, surrealism, collage, paper art, textiles, portraits, nature, landscapes, seascapes, and more.
This piece, “Urban Meditation” by Raven Skye McDonough, stopped me in my tracks. I love the central image of a woman walking her dog, surrounded by a cacophony of text, images, colors, and patterns. I could look at this a hundred times and always find something new.
Sandrine Pelissier’s “Discovery Walk” is a stunning rendering of a forest scene, done in acrylic paint and markers in varying shades of green, with pops of red. How she’s rendered the bark as intricate patterns is nothing short of astonishing.
Two pieces by Margaret Nisbet, “The Rose and the Dragonfly” and “A Rose and a Wasp” showcase this artist’s unique collage style, combining fabric, paper, acrylic paint, and graphite pencil. “The Rose and the Dragonfly,” below, showcases her ability to tell a story about her relationship with nature in a fascinating way.
I’m always interested in how Gabriela Domville Dondisch uses textiles in her mixed-media art. In “Planting,” gauzy layers of fabric are purposefully layered, highlighting the focal image, a stitched hand sowing seeds.
The wonderful thing about Incite 4 is that it also works on a practical level as art inspiration for your own work. As artists, we’re often struck by a single feature that stands out in a piece, like a textured surface, color palette, or layering technique. Whenever I look through this book I make notes about techniques I want to try, such as Sandrine’s patterning, or the fascinating way Kay Skipper Reinke rendered waves for her piece “Beneath” with fluid acrylic paint, inks, and resin.
I was particularly taken with the cover artwork, “Flow,” by Laly Mille (also featured on page 44). This abstract floral piece takes my breath away, with its exuberant use of color and joyful feeling, and I knew I wanted to use it as my art inspiration for a journal spread.
I tore a few pieces of book text and glued them to the pages, then gessoed over everything. I brushed on turquoise and white acrylic paint, and stenciled in some dot patterns in a few spots.
Next, I layered various shades of green, and added more stenciling in blue. I also created some drips, mimicking the lovely lines and drips in the painting that I interpreted as stems and vines.
For the abstract flowers, I cut small pieces of hand-painted papers, and also painted in some free-form flower shapes. I studied the painting to see how shadows and highlights were achieved, and how the layers of shapes and patterns created so much depth.
I continued adding to the painting, splattering watered-down paint, making marks with paint pens, adding glazing liquid to the paint to see what effects I could achieve, and trying out various other mediums, such as Derwent Inktense pencils and Faber-Castell Gelatos pigment sticks.
I realize I am nowhere near the incredible beauty of the original, but I truly enjoyed working abstractly, which I don’t do enough. I also allowed myself to experiment, make a mess, and make mistakes. I have so many takeaways from this piece, and I know I’ll use the techniques again. I can’t wait for my next dive in to Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew. Discover the magic it holds for you.