Art Smart – What’s Mixed Media?

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On March 6, 2015, Posted by , In Art Smart, By ,,, , With 2 Comments

No one is born understanding all the different types of paintings and art that artists are creating. In this series we will be taking a look at the basics of each type of art so that you can feel confident and art smart!

Peacock - by Laura Tetrault - Mixed Media Painting: Watercolor, Acrylic and Oil paint sticks

Peacock – by Laura Tetrault – Mixed Media Painting: Watercolor, Acrylic and Oil paint sticks

What is Mixed Media Art?

First I should untangle two terms that I still mix up on occasion.
Mixed Media Art is the kind of art that you create when you combine paints and pastels, or drawings with clippings of cool things or vintage items. Whenever you are combining two or more different art mediums, you are creating mixed media art. It can be two dimensional (on canvas or paper) or three dimensional (sculpture made up of different types of objects).
A super place to get inspired and see this type of art is by looking at artist’s journals. Art Journaling is a place where people mash paint, pens, photos, stamps and ideas together. Perfection isn’t the goal – no matter what you see on Pinterest!
Multi-Media Art refers to film, digital and audio art forms.

How Should I Care for Mixed Media Art?

The Red Dress © Laura Tetrault 2015

The Red Dress – by Laura Tetrault – Watercolor, Acrylic paint and Ink on paper

Since each mixed media piece is different, I recommend following the artist’s instructions for care – but just in case you aren’t sure here are some general good practices for caring for art.
Your mixed media piece may include some mediums that don’t like to get wet, like watercolors, pastels and different types of glue or adhesive. If your art is on paper I’d recommend framing it with a mat.  Although a mat is decorative its main job is to keep the glass from sticking to and damaging your art.
If your art has been created on a three dimensional form like a sculpture or found object, there is a really good chance that the artist has put a protective seal on it, so wiping it with a damp cloth should help it stay dust free.
It’s easy for people to question “Is it really art?” when viewing mixed media pieces, or 3D mixed media pieces (which are sometimes called “installation art”). And if you feel this way, its ok. I doubt that there is a piece of art out there, or even an art style that everyone loves. If you want to engage with the art and you see it in a museum or in someone’s home start to ask some questions like “what is it made of?” or “why do you think the artist arranged things in this way?”. I like to ask art appreciators and artists what they are most drawn to in the piece. By asking honest questions, you can unlock stories that will help you make sense of what you are seeing and appreciate it in other dimensions.

Barbie Dolls and Toy Soldiers?

There is a huge spectrum of mixed media art, from art that you would barely recognize as mixed media from my Peacock painting to altered books, art journals and artist’s altars. Mixed media is great for expressing ideas that are complex and personal – because anything goes. Instead of being confined within the boundaries of a single medium, the artist has access to anything and everything he can get his hands on. Some mediums you might find in a mixed media piece are watercolor, pastel, oil paint, acrylic paints, collage, charcoal, conte crayons, graphite powder, pencil and colored pencil – really anything is fair game. More surprising elements like toy soldiers, table utensils and repurposed Barbie dolls also find their way into some people’s art. If it can be glued, tacked, pressed, folded, stapled or painted over you will find it in someone’s art.

Follow Laura Tetrault Artist’s board Mixed Media Inspiration on Pinterest.


Try it for yourself…

If you’re thinking about playing with art yourself, mixed media may be a really great place to start. By nature mixed media is experimental. It doesn’t have perfect lines, or even perfect results all the time. You don’t need to be able to draw a perfect circle or paint the Mona Lisa. It is perfectly ok, and even expected that you put random things together to see how it works.

Got more art questions?

Check out the next article in the Art Smart Series or Visit the Art Collecting FAQs

2 Comments so far:

  1. […] If you enjoyed this little intro to watercolor, click on the link to learn about Mixed Media Art […]

  2. […] you enjoyed this little intro to acrylics, click on the link to learn about Mixed Media Art or explore Watercolor […]