Mixed Media 101: How to get started

By Nicole Tinkham

Mixed Media 101_ How to get started

Have you ever considered trying your hand in mixed media art? Trust us when we say you need to try it, and here’s why. Say you absolutely hate it (which we doubt you will), we know you’ll LEARN from the experience anyway. Mixed media is all about experimenting and playing with different mediums. It’s finding out what works well together as well as what doesn’t. Most artists find the process super fun and it’s also a great way to get those creative juices flowing if you’re stuck on some other projects. Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how to get started on your first mixed media project.

What is mixed media art?

Can the answer to this be fun? 🙂

Basically, mixed media art is bringing a variety of different art materials together in one project. It’s a combination of many different art skills as well such as collage, scrapbooking, stamping, doodling, painting, sculpture etc. It’s the best of all worlds!

1.    Gather your materials

This is where you can have a lot of fun if you allow yourself to think outside the box. When you gather materials for your mixed media collage, remember that they don’t have to be your typical art supplies! Look for unique textures and shapes that can be used for stamping devices. Save bits and pieces of paper from old newspapers, telephone books, or letters. Start a collection of random objects like buttons and ribbon. You might not be used to looking for these types of things on a normal basis but once you start opening your eyes to them you won’t be able to control it. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Toilet paper roll for stamping
Plastic utensils
Potato (can be carved into and used as a stamp)
Pencil erasers to carve into and create your own stamp
Bubble wrap for texture
File folders for a foundation
Pages of old books and catalogs
Scrap fabric/paper
Spray bottle can add texture
And the list goes on…

Here are some traditional art supplies you may consider using:

Paint- Acrylic, watercolor, fabric paint, etc.
Variety of paint brushes
Various gel mediums
Pastels, colored pencils, crayons etc.

2.    Choose your foundation

You need a place to start. Just like you need a canvas to start a painting or a sketchbook to begin a drawing, you need a base for your mixed media project. As mentioned in the materials list above, you can use a file folder as a foundation. You can also use a book, sketchbook, cereal box, notebook, index card, or anything else that’s fairly sturdy to get started. The next phase is decorating it.

3.    Add layers

A mixed media piece is really all about creating layers and telling a story. The first layer should be a basic background. This could be done in paint or you could glue some fun paper down or you could do both. Remember, there are no set rules to creating mixed media artwork. It’s great to tell a story with your piece and put some emotion into it. It doesn’t matter if others understand the story or not. This project is for YOU!

4.    Your focal point

It’s ok for your mixed media piece to be random but we do recommend having a focal point. You can achieve this through stamps, images, found items, or anything else that interests you. Be sure to add embellishments around your focal as well! Think lace, glitter, buttons, shells, and other small unique items. When putting together your piece, go with your heart. Don’t worry about where to put certain items. Just place them where you think they work best.

5.    Get out of your comfort zone

Your first mixed media project should get your feet wet so you can see what it’s all about. Next time around, we want you to get a little more out of your comfort zone. Do something crazy that you wouldn’t normally think to do! Also keep your eyes open for any new and interesting things that you can use in future projects. Like we said, once you start looking for these different materials, you won’t be able to stop!

There are numerous things you can get out of your first mixed media project. You’ll learn about various mediums that you may not be used to using. You’ll experiment and find out what works well together and what doesn’t. You may come up with new creative ideas for other projects you’re working on in the process. You might even discover a new medium you love working with. But the #1 and most important thing you can take away from your first mixed media project is to HAVE FUN! Throw out the rules. Leave your worries behind and just have fun.

Are you a mixed media artist? Leave a COMMENT below with your best tips.

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