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Focus on the Arts: Mixed-Media
Sometimes the most satisfying creative pursuits are those that are combinations of other things. The rising popularity of mixed-media art is a testament to how exciting and fulfilling it can be to combine two or more of your favorite creative genres into one project.
Mixed-media works use different mediums to create a work of art. It is common for the mixed-media artist to use whatever she/he finds appealing and thinks will “click” with the art. This means that a watercolor painting might include glitter, scrapbook paper, Washi tape (decorative adhesive tape), or all of the above. It is a freeing art form that is all-encompassing. The only limitation with mixed-media work is your imagination.
Most commonly associated with collages, mixed-media does often include pictures from magazines and scrapbooking papers. And although mixed-media artwork encompasses nearly every material you can think of, the most popular items used are paints (acrylic, watercolor), crayons (wax and watercolor), drawing pencils, charcoal pencils, markers of all sorts, a good adhesive or glue (Mod-Podge is a popular choice), papers (newspaper, scrapbooking, kraft), rubber stamps and ink, gesso, beads, ribbons, and decorative tapes. Some artists choose to use items they find as they go about their daily travels such as receipts and ticket stubs. Others buy ephemera packs of these types of paper items from vendors on Etsy or eBay.
There is no one right way to make a mixed-media piece but there are some helpful hints. First, while it is natural to start with the materials you feel most comfortable with, try to venture out and include something you haven’t used before. For instance, I used to be a devoted acrylic painter. I felt like I had the best control with acrylic paints. But once I started using watercolors I was able to get a different feel to my work, sometimes it was more gentle and fluid than if I had used acrylic paints. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
Second, as with other compositions you will want to ensure that your art piece has a foreground, middle ground and background. This will make it a strong and balanced composition. Work on the background first then focus on the middle ground. Finally, finish up with the foreground.
Third, if you are stumped and don’t know where to start consider using a theme. Perhaps, like me, your favorite color is purple. You could base the composition on varying shades and hues of purple. Or, instead you find yourself drawn to fireflies, candles and all things that include light. Based on this, you could make a mixed-media piece that focuses on the theme of light.
Lastly, remember that mixed-media art is at its best when it is a fun experiment. Try not to judge your work but rather have fun and keep the process light-hearted. I know that this is easier said than done but it is worth shooting for.
Mixed-media is an inclusive art form that embraces all disciplines. Rather than being haphazard and unbalanced as one might expect, the finished product takes the best from all mediums used to create an inspired piece of art. Try your hand at combining some of your favorite mediums and see what beauty you can create!
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