Mix media art is a form of art that allows you to expand your horizons and defy the stereotypes about the traditional art form. It enables you to incorporate different innovative mediums to create masterpieces that have two or more than art forms.
If you want to add novelty to your artwork or find using just one medium for your artwork as stale, then mix media art is definitely for you! For example, you sketch with ink, paint it with watercolors, and resort to using charcoal for the background; it is mix media.
Mix media art is superbly satisfying because you can use anything and everything you want to. This art form enables each medium to do what it does the best. And above all, you can never really get bored with mix media art because if one medium starts to get monotonous, you can switch to another one that very moment. There are no boundations; the sky is the limit!
Anyone who is keenly interested in creating something can delve into this art form. The best part is that you don’t have to have mastery in any art form! You could be a noob at single medium artworks but then too ace the mix media art form! Mix media art also turns out to be an excellent addition to your art portfolios.
When starting your hand at mix media art for the first time, be playful and get messy! It is all about experimenting! It is about finding out how various mediums react with each other, what compliments the other, the best! As Ernest Hemingway said, “write drunk and edit sober.” The same goes for making mix media art!
History: The Origin of Mix Media Art!
As Pablo Picasso said, “learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist,” little did we know then that he meant by mix media art quite literally!
The beginning of this art form can be traced back to 1912 when cubists like Pablo Picasso and Gorges Braque started adding collages to their canvases. It was only then the artists started welcoming various mediums in one piece of art more openly. Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists, Pop Artists, and Brit Artists jumped onto the mixed media bandwagon and expanded the art vocabulary.
An assemblage of oil paint, oilcloth, rope, as well as the pasted paper used to create a low relief, three-dimensional works, Picasso’s still life with chair painting is often considered as the first modern collage. Initially, collages were constructed solely on paper. Later, Braque started utilizing wood-grained wallpaper in a series of charcoal drawings.
Afterward, more artists like Kurt Schwitters’s arrival saw a vast expanse in the art scenes. He utilized newspapers as well as things of all types to canvas, paper, and board supports, adding new and more notable life to the media.
Mix media art vs. Multimedia art
These two names often appear together and are often mistaken as one another. So as you know already, mix media art is an art form that employs more than one medium of art. It is the work of visual art that traditionally uses only visual elements.
For example, you use acrylics on canvas along with paper cuts and distress inks; this is a form of mixed media art. Multimedia art has a broader spectrum of the mediums that can be used, which extends to non – visual materials too. Multimedia art can use recorded sounds, motion, literature, drama, etc.
Exploring types of Mix Media Art
There is an infinite number of ways in which you can combine different mediums. As an artist, you’re free to experiment in whichever way you want to! However, I bring you some of the most widely used types of mix media.
- Sculpture: A sculpture can be created using various materials such as clay, ceramics, glass, wire, metal, wax, dokra casting, found objects, etc. thus, it is classified under mixed media art. A novel artist chooses a sturdy base so that it can accept whatever she throws on it without bending or bulking. Intricacies on the sculpture can be added with the help of paints, patterns, colors, etc.
- Collage: When a base like wood, paper, stone, or any object is attached to any other medium like paper or fabric, it can be termed a collage. You could take up a blank canvas and literally make your own mixed media art with just about anything you could think of. You have endless possibilities, and being an artist, you can create two-dimensional artwork using sequins, newspaper/magazine cutouts, ribbons, fabrics, etc. This artwork has been in existence for over hundred of years but came into prominence only in the early 20th century.
- Assemblage: It is very similar to collage, but it has three-dimensional elements, which are assembled to create an output that successfully conveys a story. Found objects, both natural and artificial, are used in the assemblage. Metal pieces, wooden blocks, stones, cardboard boxes, hardware are used for the base as they are sturdy and can withhold pressure being put on it. Relatively lighter objects, namely beads, wires, toys, buttons, mirror pieces, etc., are used for the decorative parts.
Some assemblages are made in slab form, which can be hung on the walls, while others are created as three-dimensional sculptures.
- Altered Books: A book is taken as a base for the artworks. For any artist, this is going to be the perfect way to up-cycle their books. One can transform the book into a collage, tearing, assemblage, painting, or even resort to a basic art journal. You could use the literature of the book as a base for a storyline and covey so through your art, too, as a part of multimedia art.
- Wet and Dry Media: Intermixing drawing and painting is something we are all very familiar with. As an artist working on mix media, one should be aware of what effect each of the media produces. Combining charcoal drawing with oil-based painting is a novel way to make your painting stand out. Usually, painting your canvas with tempera colors and then adding the details and intricacies with either a colored pen or a color pencil also produces a very soothing effect.
- Resist Technique: Another technique, termed Resist, creates a unique look, combining oil and water-based paints. In this technique, stencils or wooden blocks are used to prevent colors from reaching certain parts of the canvas. There is beauty in simplicity, and this technique justifies this saying really well!
- Gesso: Gesso is a very important element of acrylic painting; it gets your canvas ready for painting. It is readily available at any given art supply shop or craft store. It is very similar to white acrylic paint but only thinner. Its work is to make the surface harder and stiffer. It prepares (or primes) the canvas for accepting acrylic paints, without the colors being soaked by the weave of the canvas. Gesso is a very versatile medium application of which, on any surface, allows one to paint over it with acrylics. For example, you could coat cigar boxes, vinyl records, rubber duckies with a coat or two of gesso, and voila – the object can now be painted with acrylics!
Gesso was traditionally white in color, but nowadays, it is increasingly available in various colors and also in a transparent variant. You could also make a tinted gesso by adding a chunk of colored acrylic paint to the transparent gesso.
There are various brands supplying gesso, and each of them has a different consistency and texture to offer. You’ll have to experiment with two to three brands to find out which one suits you the best.
- Decoupage papers: Decoupage word comes from the french verb ‘decouper,’ which means ‘to cut out.’ This technique can be effectively utilized in adding a personal touch to any item in your house, and the best part is that the designs can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
In this technique, you basically cut out papers or images, glue them to the surface and coat it with layers of varnish. You could buy many stationery and supplies for decoupage or begin with the items lying around at home to start a basic project. Boxes, vases, pots, trays, plates, etc. could be used for decoupage. You could own these items previously, or you can also buy them specifically for personalizing.
There are so many picture sources available for this technique ranging from magazines, wrapping papers (these have the ideal thickness), origami paper to specially available decoupage paper in the market.
Other than the basic stationery you’ll require, I’d recommend you keep a soft cloth/ sponge and cotton wool buds handy to wipe off access of glue from the surface. You might also need sandpaper to sand off any excess of varnish/glue or to even out the irregularities in the dried glue.
- Distress inks: These water-based inks have incredible color stability, and these do not fade with time. Distress inks react with water unlike other inks; it means that water doesn’t break down the color. They also react with each other to get blended. They’re also acid-free. They are extensively used to create backgrounds, age effects, borders, and color layering.
Find out more techniques for mix media art here!
Fun ways to add in mix media art in your life
You could create a mix media art journal to reflect and cherish your growth with this medium. You could create mix media cards and personalized gifts for your loved ones, with ticket stubs and photographs of you both.
Mix media clothing-
This is going to be a super bold way to express your work of art on a daily basis. This is an easy way to showcase your skills to more and more people, and they could be intrigued and can ask you more about your skills!
One could use stencils, embroidery, tie, and dye, etc., to make ordinary clothing stand out! You can paint it, layer it, or completely renew it with unique combinations of buttons and patchworks. You can convert pretty much anything into one of a kind mix media art!
Mix Media Journal –
Mix media journals can be a great way of upkeeping all your current events; it can act as a planner, a journal, a memo, a scrapbook, dream journal, or basically anything and everything you’d want it to be! It is like a vent to your childlike longings or creating and exploring mediums.
With each page comes an opportunity to explore your mediums, from painting meditative, abstract textures to using found objects like flowers in your art pieces. Here are some tips to make your mixed media art journal easier to manage.
It may sound crazy, but These mix media scrapbooks can be a marvelous gift for your beloved kid. You could use it to track his/ her daily progress and growth. Your child could actually get emotional with a gift like this on his 18th birthday!
Now that you’re familiar with the techniques of Mix media art, I am going to walk you through the steps for creating a basic canvas with mix media art! Below listed are the four steps that you’ll go through.
Choosing paper and media
To begin with, the canvas making, gather all the art supplies you have hoarded. Also, take a home tour where you could collect all the spare things you spot in your house that could spice up your art like the nut bolts, fancy buttons that may be lying in your grandma’s sewing machine.
Prepare the Canvas or chosen Base:
If you’re choosing a white canvas, you could gesso it, or maybe apply a layer of your favorite color or according to whatever theme you’ve chosen for your art piece. Using distress inks for the borders is a wonderful idea and adds depth to your canvas for sure!
Adding textures is my favorite part of this journey of mix media art. It adds a tinge of prettiness and makes it very adorable. You could use stencils and acrylic paints to create any look you desire. Using 3-D liners is also a nice option.
If you want to add transparent 3-D outlines to some art piece, try using Fevicol! It’s literally one of my most favorite hacks, and I use it all the time! (Be patient while the Fevicol dries up!)
Add final media things:
Finally, when you’ve done the above steps, adorn your canvas with other embellishments. You could use wooden cuts (easily available on Amazon!) for adding an antique look. Use paper, cloth, flowers, your old keys. Rims as per your choice!
And here, your first Mixed Media Art is ready to brandish!!
I hope that pretty much all you needed to kick start your first mix media art has been summed in this article! Do let us know about your first tries and experimenting stories in the comment section below!