Rae Missigman is our Artist of the Month for September, and we’re so happy to spotlight this artist and her unique art techniques. Rae brings so much vibrancy and excitement to mixed-media art, and her work has inspired countless artists—and me!
As we celebrate Rae this month, we rounded up some of her most eye-opening techniques, ones that you can start incorporating in your own artwork today. You’ll find many of them, and more, in her new book, Paint, Play, Explore, which is a must-have for your creative library. Read on for great art tips from Rae!
1. Turn ordinary items into extraordinary art tools.
Rae has an uncanny ability to look at what most of us ignore and see its potential in art. Items we come into contact with in the course of a day—a twig, a drinking straw, a laundry sheet—are more than that to Rae. A twig becomes a stamp; a straw becomes a mark-making tool; and a laundry sheet becomes a colorful embellishment.
In her book Paint, Play, Explore, Rae opens our eyes to what can be easily repurposed, giving us the gift of possibility. She uses a mascara brush to get rough marks with paint and the edge of a gift card dipped in acrylic paint to make bold lines.
The end of a wooden clothespin, when dipped into paint or ink, forms dual oblong marks that can be repeated for an attractive pattern.
Rae shows how to make a vibrant vision board in the January/February 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, again making use of a plastic gift card. But this time it’s repurposed as a mini loom to make a tiny weaving. Now that’s turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
2. Let go and don’t overthink.
Being an artist means trusting your instincts, but so often we second guess ourselves. And that’s when we lose our footing. Rae has a remedy for this, which she details in Paint, Play, Explore. “The biggest hurdle for most mark makers,” she writes, “is learning not to overthink the process. Practice and experimentation are key to getting over this obstacle.”
She recommends experimenting with resists, since you can’t always see where your marks are: “Do some tests with different resist tools to get familiar with the concept of working blind. Make notes about which resist mediums are your favorites.” Try colorless wax crayons, masking fluids, and rubber cement, and see where they take your creativity.
3. Start with texture.
Fill a background with color and you no longer have a blank page. But fill it with texture and you have so much more to work with. In the video Art Journaling Exercises: 15 Creative Prompts, one of the techniques Rae showcases is creating a background with collage to set up a foundation of physical and visual texture. Starting with a pile of random papers, including patterned paper, book pages, and art practice sheets, she tears and glues them to Bristol paper using gel medium. So that she doesn’t overthink the process, she chooses papers randomly.
Rae also overlaps the papers, creating ridges and valleys, an interesting base to work on. When everything is dry, she covers the collage with gesso and glaze, setting up a working foundation for mark making. This is definitely one to add to your art techniques repertoire, whether creating in an art journal or on canvas or wood.
4. Don’t forget about the words.
Writing may not be everyone’s favorite activity, and there are certainly no rules about adding text to artwork. But Rae makes the case for adding words to art journal pages in the article “Art Journaling: The Wings to Get Started” in the May/June 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
“Words are the all-important strands that tie the page together,” she writes. “Type, stamp, or hand letter them; just get them on the page.” She makes a good point; even one word on a page can powerfully convey a mood, a thought, or an idea, even if it’s not the focus of the art. If you hate your handwriting or have no interest in lettering, then stamping, stenciling, printing, or cutting out words from a book or magazine are great options.
5. Learn to embrace color—lots of color.
One thing Rae is not known for is a neutral palette. Color explodes in her artwork in the most incredible ways, and she shares much of her methods for working with color in the video Building Beautiful Layers: 10 Abstract Painting Techniques.
One of her art techniques starts with dripping bright acrylic ink down a primed wood panel. She then adds a shade of complementary acrylic paint, mixed with white, blending it as she paints around the drips, allowing the strokes of an angled brush to create texture. This produces beautiful gradations of color, which become the base for adding collage, texture, and more color with another application of ink. Don’t miss Rae’s brilliant advice for controlling and enhancing drips, which are great mixed-media art techniques to add to your repertoire.
In this blog post, see how easy it is to create a beautiful art journal page using Rae’s techniques.