From the term itself, mixed media is the combination of several art forms in a single piece. You might have done it before but never realized it. When you accidentally paint that piece of wood while holding your canvas and begin painting it mindlessly, that’s the beginning of a mixed media painting. Your scrapbooks, as a child, are also the most basic form of mixed media photography. You see, the term applies to almost everything we see at home. But the question still remains, what is mixed media, and what makes it worthy to be displayed or exhibited?
We’ve all been to museums and there are some that we cannot explain. Like a woman sculpture with dark paintings and pieces of scraps scattered beneath it, that’s what we think is creative. But in the realm of art, it is mixed media that the artist is most proud of ever putting together.
So, if you are here to become a mixed media artist or would like to venture into a different art form, then read through to give yourself a head start before gathering your mediums.
What is Mixed Media?
Mixed media art involves mixing different craft mediums to create art that incorporates two or more forms. It is all about combining different art forms by breaking each of their boundaries. You might have seen artworks exhibited that include sophisticated sculpture to paintings or sketches on photography prints. There are lots of forms of mixed media art depending on the core mediums used and those added as the final layer.
If you are an oil-painting artist looking to try other art forms but wouldn’t know how to use new tools and techniques, then mixing media is the right venue for you. You can incorporate oil with pieces of cloth or cutouts from magazines or photographs. With this, you are creating multi-dimensional artworks called mixed media collages. As an artist, you must have an eye for creativity to perceive any surface as a potential canvas. Mixed media photography could also be the outcome of combining photographs with other mediums with photography being the core art.
There is no limit to creating art. Even embroidery falls on the list of many things that you can use to create mixed media art. Instead of sewing the usual objects like patches and yarn into your fabric canvas, you can add in more delicate items, petals, broken plastic glass, and other things that would be easy to sew in together. Mixed media can also be applied in digital art. Digital artists can print out creations on different materials and paint over them, or paste them onto a surface or mold to create a mixed media sculpture.
When mixed media techniques are applied in digital films or anything digitally created audio, the outcome is called multimedia art. You might have seen artworks in museums that are endlessly on loop. These are forms of combining film, audio, and crafts.
If you are still stuck in enlightening yourself with what is mixed media, then you must begin opening your mind to how it is created so that you can experiment yourself. The goal is to learn how the mediums can interact with each other, so don’t be afraid to mix and match. It’s better to go too far out and step back a tad bit for your next piece than to be too hesitant and never know what the mediums you utilize are capable of.
Mixed Media Options
When diving into mixed media, you must be open to trying out different combinations of mediums you are already comfortable with. Exploring new techniques and using them individually before putting them together in one piece will help you get more into mixing them. Here are some of the ways to answer you on how to do mixed media art according to the rules of each medium.
Painting is arguably one of the most popular forms of art. With just a few other liquids and materials, you can create 3-D effects using mixed media. Take a look at some ideas to get you started.
- Paint mixes: Mix watercolors or oil paints with pastels and acrylic paints. Combining different types of paints also creates unconventional mixed media artwork. The piece cannot be considered as just painting since different mediums of paint are used which yielded a unique outcome. You can also try layering paper and wood into your artwork to complete the entirety.
- Techniques: Blend paint washes, paint with a leaf, use dotting, or use stencils a shot.
- Canvas: From rugs to rocks, and walls to glass, you can utilize anything and everything as your canvas. As long as you have the right mediums that can’t be erased or melted down the surface then it is a perfect place to put art.
If there’s any, the paper material is just about the most accessible material to create art with. You can find a crumpled paper or scratch paper lying around the house or workspace that can be used as the core or solid foundation of the artwork. Take a look at some of the practices applied to creating artwork with paper combined with other mediums.
- Torn pages of images or quotes: Take a piece of your favorite magazine and add some fire to the art by tearing images and quotable words then paste it into the collage.
- Geometric diagram: Contrast the clean shapes of your art with organic paint textures like marbling, splatters, or with the use of objects lying around the house like a rug.
- Origami, folded paper, and sculpture: Amazing for adding three-dimensional depth to a painting or sculpture! You can also consider creating paper sculptures.
Just like creating mixed-media collages, you can find images from glossy magazines and black and white newspaper pictures, or even have your personal photographs printed on the desired paper to work around with. For photography collages, you can pursue traditional cut and paste tutorials or learn how to create digital collages using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Once created, you can have them printed and add more mixed media photography techniques to them.
Illustration: With different illustrations added to your piece, you can create surrealist effects. There’s little imagery in an illustration that allows audiences to give their own meaning to it.
Painting and textures: Also a form of multimedia art is combining digital photo-manipulations through software editors with traditional painting effects.
Pro-tip: Similar to creating torn collages, you might want to avoid accidentally tearing up your subjects. These are some easy ways to remove the paper from magazines and books that will yield cleaner looks.
Making mixed media sculpture is an art form of creating figurines and sculpts with clay and adding other mediums to emphasize its features and to give it more depth.
Molding and building: With the right kind of glue, you can make a mixed-media sculpture out of anything that can latch on mold. Otherwise, you can look into using a solid foundation such as bricks or lego blocks.
Carving: If you are a sculptor, you must have tried carving other mediums aside from wood and mold. Then as easy as pie, you can learn how to carve all kinds of materials, from fruits and glass to ice.
Assemblages and Collages
Mixed media art is categorized into two forms: the assemblage and the collage. Now we are all familiar with what collages are created with and they could be a combination of cut-out pictures and scribbles with blotches of paint or simply found frames with little to no direction at all. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the assemblage. To better explain what an assemblage is, here is a little history.
The early 20th century is when artists increasingly began experimenting. They started incorporating everyday objects into their paintings and sculptures, blurring the lines between art and life. Thus, making them a tad bit surrealist. Ranging across styles, artists created three-dimensional, mixed-media assemblages that questioned the very definition of art as it had come to be known. Jean Dubuffet coined the term "assemblage” for this hybrid or mixed art form.
Between collages and assemblages, there are far more interesting objects to add in a mixed media assemblage. Mundane everyday objects are used in new and surprising ways, requiring the viewer to question the purpose of the used objects to the world. More often than not, assemblage art elevates non-art materials into the realm of art. If you are stuck on how to do mixed media art with everyday objects, take a look at 20th-century inspirations when assemblages and collages are purer and without a trace of other forms of art.
Now that we have reached the end of this brief introduction to mixed media, you can then ask yourself, what is mixed media to you as an artist? In reading this article, did you find what it really is for you? Can you incorporate that into the craft? If the benefits are low and the stakes are high, then that is when you should take the leap. Like what the famous Ernest Hemmingway said, “write drunk and edit when sober”. You became an artist because of your work and creating new crafts makes you work in a different light. When you get a hold of it, that’s when you make newer and cleaner pieces. With the help of Strikingly, we can help you build your online portfolio to increase your chances of discoverability!