How To Paint in Mixed Media

Mixed media is often mistakenly labeled as multimedia. The latter uses different art forms like painting and poetry or music and literature. Mixed media in painting means using different types of paint in one painting. That means using watercolor with acrylic or painting with pastels and charcoal. There are rules that apply when painting in mixed media. You may still paint without following the rules. But knowing the basics of these rules will help you create a masterpiece without going through a lot of trials and errors.

  • Use easily compatible media. For beginners, it is recommended to start painting using compatible media. For instance, use only water media with other water media like markers, tempera, acrylic, and watercolor. If you want to use oil pastels, then you should use them with oil media too like oil paints. Dry media like graphite and soft pastel should be mixed with colored pencils and charcoal. These compatible media will erase your worries on which paint to come first. Painting mixed media becomes more complicated if you combine non-compatible paint media.
  • Always start using the wet medium before the dry medium. If you will be using acrylic and charcoal, it’s best to start the layer for acrylic. The wet medium will mix into the dry medium if you apply the charcoal first.
  • Let the first medium to dry before adding a different medium. After applying the acrylic paint, let it dry first before applying the charcoal. This technique prevents the two paint media to mix and give your painting an odd and ugly combination.
  • Combine different media if you intend to. Waiting for the wet medium to dry is not always the rule. Some painters innovate by mixing the wet paint to dry paint. If you intend to do this, then you don’t have to wait for the acrylic to dry. Add the charcoal immediately to make a good combination. Make sure that before you do this, you are already familiar with the combination. Innovating is always good but you need to be sure that your innovation will bring beauty to your painting.
  • Apply the faster drying medium first. This means that you have to apply the watercolor first before you apply the oil paint. But then, you should remember the rule that wet should be applied before dry medium. Logically speaking, dry medium is faster to dry since it doesn’t have to undergo the drying period. Doing that, however, will only combine media that you don’t want to be mixed.
  • Try a unique mixed media. Combining different types of paint is the traditional way of painting mixed media. But don’t be limited of what a store can offer you. Find more visual elements that can be included to your painting. Some artists will add a film negative, photograph, herbs, spices, dried plants, stones, graphite, tiles, and many others.

Always think outside of the box. This will not only make your art unique. Doing so will help you discover more ways on enhancing your art. Painting in mixed media is a great innovation. Make it more than just the usual mixed media by exploring more media, trying odd media combinations, and using unusual media. Who knows, doing this will lead you into discovering a new school of painting.


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