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Mixed Media Art Projects -Way Beyond Collage

pens and chalk mixed media art project
pens and chalk

As an artist,

when I hear the term “mixed media” it doesn’t stop at the usual five or six that are usually listed in most articles and in many books. For me it generally includes encaustic, acrylic pouring, even alcohol inks, and that hardly scratches the surface of what is out there to do. Do something different with your next mixed media art project using a new technique!


I started out as a commercial photographer and wandered into fine art photography. Many of the techniques I’m going to outline here involve using photos, but you don’t have to be a photographer in order to use these ways of working. Any image on the internet unless it is watermarked or copywrited can be considered fair game, but if you have any doubts, look it up and check for your peace of mind.

You can use any image,

appropriate it, and make it your own. You can even sign your name to your work, even though you may have started with someone elses image. As far-fetched as it may seem, the simple act of printing out the image constitutes that it is “original art”. I know this because I took a class about two years ago which addressed this issue.

The only thing that must be a part of a good mixed media art project or series to have it qualify as mixed media is more than one medium being used.

For instance,

if you pour, maybe you use chalk or pen or pencil, or glitter with it. I’m just going to stop right there, because the combinations are endless and really fun. If you are having a ho-hum day and can’t seem to get motivated, try a different medium. You will be amazed by the ideas that start popping up in your head.

There will probably be a learning curve, but hey, that’s part of the fun, and in the end you may end up in a place you never expected to be. Artistically that is.

I’m going to cover some different techniques and methods here, had I fully expect you to be able to go forth and prosper when I’m done here.

Encaustic – Working with wax can be rewarding

With its inherently semi-transparent qualities, wax can partially or even fully obscure images or other visual information. Was can create rich translucent layers over and between images.

Was surfaces can be enhanced with texture, color, or applied objects or materials, hiding or partially revealing what is underneath. Wax can encapsulate or embed images, but those images can then be revealed by digging through the layers of wax, all the way to the image beneath.

Image transfers and digital grounds – A new way to see photos

Using transfers or digital grounds on non-traditional materials and or objects can open up a whole new world. Using a copier or any printer that prints photos will work to transfer images.

When you embed an image into a gel skin or fuse an image onto any non-traditional material, you are transferring meanings and creating a relationship between that image or object or material.

photograph transfer on written page
photograph transfer on written page

These are the most common transfer techniques.

  • direct acrylic gel transfer
  • gel skin transfer
  • self leveling gel transfer
  • adhesive transfer with tape or clear contact paper
  • alcohol transfer

There are also printable silk transfers, water decal transfers, inkjet transparency transfers as well as iron on transfers. The list is long and could take a while to work through. I have found that there are some transfer techniques that I like better than others and tend to use them a lot.

Digital Grounds

are ink-receptive coatings to apply to unusual materials, including specialty paper, canvas, metal and acrylic paint to make it possible to print on them using an ordinary inkjet printer.

The types of substrates are nearly limitless as long as they are thin and flexible enough to run through a printer.

Drawing and Painting on Photographs – Alter it, improve it.

While there are a great number of ways to alter and change images through programs such as Photoshop, I never find it as rewarding as I do when I draw or paint on a photograph itself.

mixed media
mixed media

Either an old or a new image work equally well. There are endless combinations and methods used to alter prints

  • Place a photo in coffee or tea to create a sepia toned print
  • Selectively color only certain areas of the image
  • Completely cover or isolate areas using opaque paints
  • Add pattern or line by drawing with ink, pencil etc.
  • Use stencils
  • Draw or write over an image
  • Cut or collage images and use paint or draw to connect areas
  • Use gel medium or liquid Frisket mask to select and protect areas before painting over it
  • Add sand, glitter or other material to acrylic medium

Photo Collage – Tear, cut or a combo, you choose.

A very simple and yet effective way of working is by creating a photo collage for a mixed media art project. Magazine pictures, photos, copied images from the internet all work and give a great choice of subject matter and material used.amazon

Tissue paper, pages from paperback books, other images or parts of images or even some fabrics can be incorporated into a photo collage, as well as pens, pencils, blendable markers and well, you get the idea.

collage mixed media
collage mixed media

There are a couple of things to pay attention to when creating a collage. As far as materials go, make sure that whatever type of glue is being used is compatible with both the substrate and the medium being used.

And because it is so easy for collage to end up looking jumbled and busy, it may be better to have a bit of a plan before embarking on the joy of tearing and pasting.

The only thing to remember is…

Have fun! Experiment! Until you are comfortable with any medium don’t attempt that masterpiece. Relax and realize that anything new takes time to control. Or not.

Perfection is never attainable and is the biggest threat to creativity imaginable. Besides, perfection is rarely that piece of work that you will always love. It is a mechanical wonder of correctness. And I think we’ve all had enough of that.

If there are any methods you would like to try and don’t know much about, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.


collage mixed media
collage mixed media






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