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Mixed Media Art Techniques

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Have you ever drawn a picture in pencil, and then added color with watercolor paint or Sharpie markers? You might have been working in mixed media. In this lesson, we will explore several mixed media art techniques.

What is Mixed Media?

Artists have many ways of creating art, and they're always experimenting with new ideas. Sometimes, an artist might paint on a series of photographs, or draw an image in India ink, and then embellish it with bright colored pencil. When an artist does these things, he or she is working in mixed media.

Mixed media art techniques are those that combine different methods and mediums to make artwork. A medium is a substance or material like oil paints, pastels, watercolors or colored pencils. It's something used to make art. When you mix media, you use two or more art mediums in a work that combines them into an image or sculpture.

Methods of Creating Mixed Media Art

Collage

One of the most common ways of creating mixed media art is through a method called collage. Collage, developed by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque around 1912, involves using bits and pieces of leftover material, or fragments like newsprint, wallpaper, photographs and twine. By gluing the fragments to a surface, and then adding painted and drawn elements if desired, the artist creates a new two-dimensional image.

Another way to make a collage is to position several pieces of paper fragments and newspaper articles on a board or canvas, and then carefully cover them with a clear acrylic gloss, varnish or gel, which adheres them to the surface below. When the acrylic dries, it can be drawn on with ink or markers, or painted over with more acrylic paint.

Example of a work done in collage, using cut colored paper shapes and newsprint
example of collage

Assemblage

In the mid-20th century, another mixed media method developed called assemblage. Assemblage is similar to collage, but done in a way that brings the art into three dimensions. Artists create sculptures from found objects, things like plastic bottles, barbed wire, tires and broken toys, that have been discarded in everyday life. Some assemblages hang on the wall, like paintings with elements that protrude from the surface. Others are completely freestanding sculptures.

Example of an assemblage that combines many small objects, rope and dripped paint on a painted surface
Example of an assemblage

An artist can also make an assemblage sculpture by connecting many pieces of metal by welding them together, and then decorating the new shape with fabric scraps, found objects and spray paint.

Exploring Mixed Media

The possibilities are endless. Mixed media can be as simple as drawing an image in black ink, and adding color with watercolor paints and colored pencil. You could also make a picture by cutting shapes out of fabric, gluing them to heavy board, and decorating the surface with Sharpie markers or acrylic paint.

Example of a mixed media work that combines colored pencil, wax paper and tissue paper with elements of collage
Example of mixed media

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