You Won’t Get Anywhere With Half Measures

29 Nov 2012

I've been told by more than one person that I try to see both sides of any issue. And my personal life aside, I can attest that I also do the same for art--I like to see it from all sides, materially speaking. That makes me a perfect match for mixed media art because you can combine so many different kinds of materials and objects to make mixed media paintings.

Mixed media artists can't be faint of heart. You have to be brave to try mixed media techniques that you've never tried before, but I've discovered that you won't get anywhere--and you kind of feel let down--if you don't push it enough to show that you are actually mixing media.

Earth by Kiki Smith, 2011, ink, crayon, watercolor, gold and silver leaf, glitter and pencil on paper, 108 x 72.
Earth by Kiki Smith, 2011, ink, crayon, watercolor,
gold and silver leaf, glitter and pencil on paper, 108 x 72.

What I mean is that, sure--combining pencil sketching and then oil painting is technically mixing media. But who's going to really know? With mixed media, you have a chance to really push it. Take Kiki Smith for example. In her works on paper, she not only creates line drawings, she also embellishes the heck out of the surface of her pieces with watercolor; she'll add shimmering mica and glitter for a bit of bling; she'll coat her surface to alter its absorption characteristics.

There are also mixed media techniques you can use to get unusual surface textures, and taking a razor or pair of scissors to a piece to shred the edges or make cutouts is an interesting practice. Mixed media collage can be combined with almost any kind of painting practice for really astounding finished products, too.

Year of the Dog #8 by Judy Pfaff, woodblock print with collage and hand coloring.
Year of the Dog #8 by Judy Pfaff, woodblock print with collage and hand coloring.

Seen in this light, I really think that mixed media art is the art world's last undiscovered country. Or I guess I should say "least discovered." It isn't a conventional form yet--and maybe it won't ever be--but that is because artists are acting as explorers and pushing their mixed media artwork new places every time they go into the studio.

To see how far I can push mixed media, I look no farther than the Modern Mixed Media DVD and the Collage in Color eMag. These two digital resources are perfect for me as I start brainstorming my next mixed media artwork, and they give me so many options for materials to use and combine. If ever there was an art practice that offers eye candy galore, mixed media art is it. And these resources can't help but make you want to delve in and create brand new ways of putting new paintings, drawings, and collages together. Enjoy!

 


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