As you know, I love colour and pattern. And if you’re a regular here, you may also know that I do a little (amateur) bookbinding on the side. I’ve always been quite good at making things, so am naturally drawn to all things crafty. And I’ve been told I have a good eye. As in being able to put things together so they look right. Again, a very practical creative skill.
But artistic? Actually being able to draw or paint something (anything!) that looks even remotely like it’s meant to? Nuh-uh. Not at all. (My sister, on the other hand, is phenomenally talented in that direction).
So all that said, my first experience recently with a couple of Mixed Media video workshops from Artists Network TV has been a revelation.
They offer over 1,000 hours of online art tutorials and full-length video workshops for acrylic, coloured pencil, drawing, mixed media, oil, pastel and watercolour techniques. You can watch the videos as often as you like, anywhere you like, and a feature that I particularly like is the 15-second rewind or fast-forward function. Brilliant for if you’re taking notes or working along to the video and need a quick recap.
I’ve completely fallen under the spell of mixed media. Which, as the name suggests, involves using a whole range of different materials and media to create a single artwork. And it can be as arty, or crafty (or both) as you want. So that’s perfect for me and it’s been fascinating to see what you can create without actually being able to draw or paint.
It’s also a way to use up all the textile and paper scraps, weird bits and pieces and various found objects that I’ve been
hoarding purposefully collecting and now actually have an exciting use for.
The first Artists Network TV course I tried was “10 Techniques for Painting Layers in Mixed Media“. It made me realise that, even when paint is involved, it doesn’t have to look like anything specific if you don’t want it to. (Or are just not able to, in my case). Abstract is good, especially for backgrounds to which more layers of materials will be added later.
And although you can use brushes for creating paint layers, they’re often the sort you buy from the DIY shop rather than the art shop. Even better, you don’t even always need to use a brush. Kitchen roll and my fingers did an awful lot of the work for the piece I’ve been working on the last couple of days.
This is pretty much my first project and a combination of a few of the techniques in just one of the courses. I’ve still got an awful lot to learn, particularly about creating restrained colour palettes that don’t end up looking like a bad festival tie-dye T-shirt.
I wanted to create some interesting covers for books, which is why this particular piece of paper is so long and thin. I only have a very small range of paints at the moment, despite which I’m pretty happy with the result. Although it took an awful long time to get there. Lots of lessons were learned, though, which of course is the whole point. And the resulting colour and texture is fascinating.
One of my favourite things about mixed media, or at least creating layers like this? If you don’t like what you’ve done you can just keep adding another layer until it does work and you’re happy with the result. The iterations this went through were completely and utterly different to how it ended up. And I learned something useful every layer I applied.
The courses I downloaded are taught by mixed-media artist, instructor and author Seth Apter. I love his mantra:
You’re only one layer away from the magic
Or, as I discovered, about 20 layers. But you get the idea…
I’m just re-watching the other Seth Apter course I downloaded – “10 Techniques for Mixed-Media Artists” – and taking notes this time around. It includes simple techniques such as collage, stamping and altered photographs – I can’t wait to try this last one.
I created this paper to be the finished layer (it’s pretty busy already) and it’ll be interesting to see how the book structure develops. Although I’m very keen to incorporate the masking tape that I used to hold the paper flat as I was working on it. As you can see in the pictures above and below the tape has taken on some beautifully rich colour and pattern. I hope I can work it into the design somehow.
Now I just have to resist the temptation to add more paint (or something else entirely) to the piece. Because whilst you may only be one layer away from the magic, I’ve discovered that things can rapidly go the opposite direction too. Will I manage to leave well alone? I’ll let you know.