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Mixing Media

Blog: #38 of 61 by Michael Owens

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June 3rd, 2013 - 09:01 AM

My experiences with mixed media art began as an undergrad student in a mixed media painting class (where else). We were taught to weave conceptual elements into our work using whatever materials we chose. We even went on a class trip to a local junkyard to buy whatever stuff we wanted, so we could make our own found-object artwork, ahh the memories. I remember buying a large hubcap and few small pieces of scrap metal off of various machines. Of course the resulting project was a total failure, due to my limited abilities at the time, but not because the materials wouldn’t work together. (Sorry, I don’t have picture of it!)

Mixed media art, in everyday terms, is any artwork created by using more than one medium.

It’s important to distinguish ”mixed-media” artwork from “multimedia art”. Mixed media usually refers to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media. For example, a work on canvas that combines paint, ink, and collage could properly be called a “mixed media” work – but not a work of “multimedia art.” The term multimedia art implies a broader scope than mixed media, combining visual art with non-visual elements (such as live or recorded sound, for example) or with elements of the other arts (such as literature, drama, dance, motion graphics, or music).

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Firefight by Michael Owens (Detail) – Mixed Media (Acrylic, Oil , Sand, Collage, Polyurethane)
http://www.michaeloart.com/products-page/paintings/fire-fight/

When creating a painted or photographed work using mixed media it’s important to choose the layers carefully and allow enough drying time between the layers to ensure the final work will hold together and not fall apart in a few hours or days. When using layered media it’s very important to choose a sturdy foundation such as a heavy board or wood panel or you just might have problems.

A phrase some people use in relationship to mixed media is, “Fat over lean.” In other words: “don’t start with oil paints. Plan to make them the final layer.” This is because oil and water don’t mix, try mixing the two and you’ll have quite a mes on your hands. Placing any oil based material over water based stuff such as acrylic paint is fine, provided that the water based under – layer is completely dry, but never vice versa.

Many effects can be achieved by using mixed media. Found objects (such as junkyard clutter) can be used in conjunction with traditional artist media, such as paints and graphite, to express whatever feeling or meaning you want it to. In this way, many different elements of art become more flexible than with traditional artist media. The possible effects are endless.

Please comment below, let me hear what you think!

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