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Three Simple Mixed Media Painting Techniques

Updated on January 7, 2013


Mixed Media art doesn't always include painting, but when it does it will bring your artwork to a new level of interest. Mastering a few simple painting techniques commonly used in mixed media art will help you to create the piece f artwork you have imagined.

Using paints to create the background of your mixed media art piece allows you to make your work truly your own; a few paint colours can be bought fairly cheaply and from there you can mix them yourself to give you a pallet to suit your project. You can also then paint and colour embellishments with the same paint, ensuring the colours will always go together.

The three simple techniques will will review today are the blending washes technique, credit card painting technique and using hand-made stencils. For each of these techniques we will need a surface ready to paint onto (canvas or art journal), a few paint brushes, water to wash them in and kitchen papertowel.

Using acrylic paints to create a colourful background
Using acrylic paints to create a colourful background

Blending Washes

The blending washes painting technique gives an interesting background with depth by using two complementary colours and building up layers. Choose two colours that go well with each other; light and dark blue or purple and maroon. When starting out we like to choose safe colours combinations. Start by adding an area of the lighter colour; it may be the middle of the canvas or towards the top. Then add some of the darker paint across the bottom and around the edges but leaving some space between the colours. Now in the area where they will meet, add a little water to one brush and begin blending the two colours. Try pulling the darker colour into the lighter one, as well as bringing the lighter one into the darker one - each will give different results. use the kitchen paper towel to blot up some of the extra water or colour. Leave to dry or help with a heat gun. You can then add more paint along the edges of where the colours meet to smooth our the transitions. Continue to add paint and letting it dry until you are happy with the background. ONce it is completely dry you can continue to add your collage elements and embellishments to complete your piece.

Using an old credit card to spread around two layers of acrylic paint will produce lovely results.
Using an old credit card to spread around two layers of acrylic paint will produce lovely results.

Credit Card Painting

The credit card painting technique uses a plastic card to spread a think layer of paint across the surface. Applying different pressure to the card, trying different angles and also different paints will all create various effects. To start, run a thin line f paint across the top of your pre=pared background. Hold not the background firmly with one hand and drag the paint across the surface. IT takes practice to get an effect you are happy with. If you run out of paint before you get to the bottom of your background, add a little more paint; if yo have too much, have few pages of text ephemera handy and add paint tho those - these can be used later in your collage work. Once the first layer of paint is dry, add another colour and scrap across the background again. to compete this technique, a small amount of metallic paint really seems to set the whole background off. allow to dry then embellish.

Handmade Stencils

Our final mixed media painting technique uses stencils to create patterns across our painted background. While there are many you can buy, making your own will bring your own unique style to your artwork. You can make stencils using thin plastic sheets, like overhead transparencies, old report covers or gift box fronts. Carefully cut out your shape with a craft knife and you are ready to go. With stenciling we need to take it slowly, adding the paint with a fairly dry brush to make sure the paint doesn't bleed out under the stencil, ruining our artwork. Build up the colour and layers gently. Check your stencil and wipe clean if needed before adding your next shape. A clever way to create more complex stencils is to use digital photos you have taken of an object - a flower or tree silhouette works well; print them onto normal office paper, cut out with a craft knife and use both the negative and positive parts of the stencil to create shapes and patterns. Be careful with the paper stencil as it will tear easily one it gets too soggy with paint. You may need to make two or three for a bigger project. You can lso used the paint coloured paper stencil to collage into your artwork, giving it another layer of interest.

Using stencils is an easy way to add images to your mixed media paintings.
Using stencils is an easy way to add images to your mixed media paintings. | Source

In conclusion

Many different projects can be created suing these three basic mixed media painting techniques - using different backgrounds and paint colours will give an endless array of backgrounds, ready to embellish and turning into wonderful piece of mixed media art. So dig out your paints and get practicing.

Happy Creating!


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      coloradoshopper 4 years ago

      Just one thing - the use of the word "complementary" in your washed description is confusing. Complements are actually opposite on the color wheel and should not be used together as washes. Analogous colors are colors that can be mixed together for washes as they are next to each other on the color wheel.