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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Benson

Mixed Media

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Mixed media has been a theme throughout most of my wet medium explorations. But, for this post, my mixed media is intentional and will go a little more in-depth.

To start this exploration, I looked at the theme of the semester to repurpose or recycle materials. I took all our junk mail and mail that needed to be shredded, tore it into pieces and submerged it into a container of water.

After letting the paper soak for 24 hours, I took out a just-for-crafting blender to emulsify the paper into pulp.

I prepared my supplies for the next step: deckle (the frame setup that includes a fine net to form the shape of the paper) a sponge and a surface to lay the paper flat to dry.

After letting the paper dry for 24 hours, I am ready for my next step. I think I'll work in gouache, watercolor, acrylic, and ink.

I prepped a larger piece of handmade paper with white acrylic paint and another mid sized paper with hot pink and white acrylic paints.

On the larger piece of paper, I sketched in a primitive bird and I added gouache paint to it. When it dried (which took longer than on the usual store-bought paper) I added white acrylic

paint designs. When that dried, I took a black micron pen to add details.

I found that the handmade paper really sucked up the pigment. I needed to use thick gouache to saturate certain areas of the bird. The thicker gouache also helped to fill in the natural indents of the paper.

I simultaneously created two more designs to work on as each dried. The pink background will be an abstract flamingo. I started with an acrylic base and I have been gradually building up the color with gouache paint.

On the other piece, I drew a fish form and started filling it with watercolor paints. I could not layer colors because the paper completely soaked up the pigment. The paper actually started to shred so instead of brushing the colors, I pressed the brush into the paper so as not to disturb the fibers any further. While it was still damp, I added more pigment with my gouache paint. This paper took a long time to dry.

Creating more of a series, I took another larger piece of handmade paper and created a Mexican Folkart-inspired floral to go along with the bluebird, using acrylic paints, gouache paints, and micron pens.

I'll be adding one more to the series, if you click over to my digital media exploration blog post, you will see the sketched-out process that I used before creating one more for the series on my handmade paper.

For the final mixed media project, which came serendipitously as I was clearing my work space from a tempera paint exploration, I created a floral piece. As I was cleaning, the tempera paint that had dried on the plastic tray, came off in big chunks and I thought maybe I could incorporate the chunks into a piece of artwork. I took out my liquid watercolors, some heavy weight watercolor paper and got to work.

Next, I ModPodged the paper and dropped the tempera paint chips on the paper. As I moved the paper around, I could see an image starting to form.

I took a Tombow ink pen and started drawing in the design I saw. Next I took white acrylic paint and painted the background so that the only colors remaining where those of the subject matter.

This one flower was not fitting the composition, so I brainstormed ideas on how to fix it. I took out tissue paper, added white acrylic paint and blue watercolor ink. From that I cut flower petals that I would adhere to the top of the out of place flower.

I did not like the border that was left from the tape, it was distracting. I went back with white acrylic paint again and filled it all in. I also thought the cup looked too dark so I thought adding a piece of scrap fabric would break up the darkness. I once again applied matte medium. Once the medium dried, I took the Tombow ink pen and went over the details again for the finished product.

Safety/Behavior Expectiations/Age:

I think mixed media is appropriate for all age groups. The materials will differ by age group, perhaps instead of Tombow pens for elementary school age, they use sharpies. The added materials (like the tempera paint chip example) need to be non-toxic or hazardous for students. I would use student contracts so ensure that students are using any added materials safely. Work stations would probably benefit an example like the tempera paint chip project, where one station has background creation, one station has ephemera to add, one station has modpodge/pva glue, another station for the outline drawing, and a station for setting the artwork with matte medium.

Project Ideas:

  • collage with paint and pens

  • create self portraits

  • deconstructed-reconstructed art (creating an artwork, cutting it up and rearranging the pieces to create a new piece)

  • contour line drawing filled with mixed media approaches

  • visual journals

Artist Inspirations:

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