What is Mixed-Media Art
Mixed-media art is where you come to play with a variety of materials, which include, but are certainly not limited to, paper, hardware, wood, shells, fabrics, and “found objects.”
Mixed-media artists find art ideas and inspiration within a wide range of techniques: art journaling, collage, bookmaking, assemblage, sculpture, painting, paper crafts, surface design, and much more.
|Source: Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop video,
Layer by Layer by Beryl Taylor, Interweave, 2009
No tool, supply, or medium is off limits to the mixed-media artist. In fact, while some artists combine two or three media, many believe the more the merrier. There is no right or wrong in mixed-media art. All that's needed is a sense of adventure and a willingness to play with the materials you have.
That's how mixed-media artist Beryl Taylor created what she calls “fabric paper.” By experimenting with paper, fabric, paint, and glue, she creates one-of-a-kind sheets that are durable enough for stitching. In this video, Beryl demonstrates how she blends the layers.
Mixed-Media Terms to Know
Artist Trading Card (ATC): A 2½" x 3½" piece of art backed with felt or a firmer backing such as cardboard.
Bone folder: A tool for marking, scoring, or creasing paper or fabric.
Brayer: A hand roller used in printmaking techniques to spread ink or to offset an image from a plate to paper.
Dry brush: A painting technique where a little bit of paint is put on a dry brush to produce a broken, scratchy effect.
Fabric paper: Paper created by layering a variety of papers onto a lightweight fabric with a glue wash.
Fixative: A spray acrylic that keeps the medium (paint, ink, pastel, etc.) from smudging.
Fluid acrylic paint: A type of acrylic paint that is fluid relative to a heavy-body acrylic paint, with the same intensity of color.
Gel medium: An acrylic polymer medium that can accept color media and other additives, such as glitter or fine beads, to create texture when applied to a surface.
Gesso: A thick, chalky mixture that can be painted onto paper or fabric to provide a rough-textured base surface.
Matte medium: Acrylic polymer medium that can be used to extend paints, increase translucency, and decrease gloss.
Photo transfer: Photographic images transferred onto fabric using photo transfer paper.
PVA glue: A general purpose white glue that dries fast and clear.
Transfer: Applying inkjet or toner copy images to fabric using different media, such as water, polymers, and other media.
Walnut ink: Made from walnuts, this very dark ink can be used to “age” papers and other materials and to tone down bright colors.
Source: The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney, Interweave, 2011
Using prompts to spark design
Sometimes, you're bursting with art ideas. Other times, the well is dry. When you come up empty, prompts come to the rescue. Mixed-media artist Robin Olsen uses creative prompts like these to get ideas to flow again.
Brainstorm: Come up with a list of prompts that focus on your style of work. Robin uses prompts like "Appliqué something on" or "Add triangles."
Use the Prompts: Grab a prompt. Robin cuts up her list of prompts and puts them in a basket. Use that prompt to start your project. Grab another prompt and use it to continue work on your piece. Your project might take 3 prompts, it might take 10.
Break the Rules: The purpose of the prompts is to get the creative juices flowing. If the prompt you choose gives you another idea-go with it. It's all about working spontaneously.
Robin Olsen's Tips for Working with Prompts
- Try doing one small piece from start to finish using prompts. Don't give up too quickly. Some of my favorite elements came from prompts that seemed impossible at first.
- A prompt does not have to be a dominant element in a piece. Think of ways it can be incorporated subtly, using soft colors, sheers, fine lines, or as small background details.
- Customize your list of prompts for how you like to work. You might add mixed-media or embellishment techniques to your list. You can also customize how you use the prompts. You might want to use just one or two to get started, or you could use them only at the end of a piece to add final embellishments.
Source: Cloth Paper Scissors, Interweave, September/October 2009
Suminagashi Floating Paint Technique
Paint and paper meet in delightful ways when creating mixed-media art. Here, artist and author Diana Trout demonstrates suminagashi, or floating ink painting.
Join Cloth Paper Scissors Editor Jenn Mason as she guides you through the principles of backgrounds, middle grounds, and foregrounds as they relate to mixing monoprints and collage. Explore making quick and easy backgrounds using acrylic and gelatin printing plates, building the story of your art by adding collage elements and image transfers, working in a series to strengthen your work, printing in layers to create a dynamic effect, and much more. Download Mixed-Media Collage or order the DVD now to enhance your mixed-media skills. This workshop is also available in HD Download.