Advice & Guidance

Mixed Media: The Secrets of Using Mixed Media

7th August 2018 Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Mixed Media is an increasingly popular style that more and more artists are embracing with some really fantastic results. However, for many, the concept can seem inaccessible, conjure up connotations of primary school collage, or feel downright scary!

O’er the Hills by Alison C. Board

Let’s get back to basics and explore it a bit – if you’ve never tried it, you may be very pleasantly surprised!

Literally speaking, a mixed media piece is something that uses more than one medium. It’s as simple as that.

However, although a Line and Wash style could be put into that category, it’s more associated with watercolour work or even considered a medium in its own right. The true essence of mixed media is more than just the number of media types used – it’s about bringing out the individual qualities of each media and juxtaposing them side by side in one piece.

Another key element of mixed media is its unpredictable nature. SAA Professional Artist, Alison C. Board is an expert when it comes to media mingling.

Blown to a Thousand Bits by Alison C. Board

She says, “Experimentation is key to the process; combining materials together to see what outcomes you get rather than trying to predict it specifically. Don’t think – just play! Out of your experiments will appear something that you hadn’t thought of before and the combinations of materials will spark an idea for your painting.”

If you’re not sure where to begin, Alison has put together this handy guide to get you started.

Step 1:Paints and Inks

No matter what types of paint they are, have a play to see what goes with what, just being careful that oil and water don’t mix (but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be layered up!). My preferences are Watercolour and Brusho or Bombay inks as they all compliment each other beautifully, but you really can try any combination that suits you and your style.

Step 2: Surfaces

The crucial thing here is it needs to be something that’s going to take the layers! The heavier the better or an assortment to start off the experimental process – one of the SAA Assorted Watercolour Paper Packs is a great idea or Canvas Boards depending on the media. There are also mixed media-specific pads you might like to try too. Again, the key is to experiment!

Step 3: Mediums

If you are inspired to play with texture then any acrylic medium or watercolour medium would be brilliant. You might also want to consider some tools to apply them such as colour shapers or palette knives.

Step 4: Finishing

 Then there is what I would class as the ‘finishing’ products such as pens and markerspastel pencils or Inktense for any detail and to pull the painting together.

Mixed Media is about discovery – not only exploring which materials combine well and to your liking, but also discovering more about yourself as an artist and how your creative style can develop and grow. Keep experimenting, keep questioning and keep mixing your media!

You can learn more about Alison C Board at

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