Mixed Media Art for Beginners – 5 ways to start a blank canvas or page

Mixed Media Art for Beginners – 5 ways to start a blank canvas or page

I love mixed media art as it gives you so much freedom and there are no set rules or a right way of doing it. It allows you to tap into your creativity and do whatever you like on the page, using your favourite art supplies.

Looking at a blank canvas or page in your art journal can be a bit daunting so I thought I’d share 5 ways to get some paint on it and achieve your first layer in your mixed media piece.

I either work in my art journal, which contains watercolour paper pages so it can take paint, or I work on sheets of watercolour paper or canvas boards (as opposed to stretched canvases as the boards provide a nice hard surface to work on).

Something to bear in mind is that the first layer may not look like anything special or wow because it is only the first in many layers. I think of it as a foundation layer of paint.

I normally choose to use either warm or cool colours for each layer as if you try to combine both, you can end up with mud but it can be fun to experiment! In the most basic form, warm colours are considered to be reds, oranges and yellows where as cool colours are blues, greens and violet.

1.      Using watercolours

This background was created using a wet on wet technique by making the watercolour paper wet to begin with using a brush and water and then using the brush to add different watercolours to the page. Because the paper is wet, the paint tends to naturally spread, giving some interesting effects. Whilst it was still wet, I then sprinkled the page with some salt to create the texture and left it to dry before shaking or gently rubbing off the salt.

mixed media beginner watercolour background

2.  Using acrylic paint and a brayer

This background was created by putting some blobs (technical term!) of acrylic paint – I tend to use fluid acrylics but soft body acrylics or craft paint will also work well – and then using a brayer (a mini rubber roller) to spread the paint. You can have fun with this and go in different directions and mix different colours using the brayer to create some interesting colour mixes. I like to leave patches of the white paper or canvas to give texture.

beginner mixed media background brayer

3.     Using watercolour pastels/crayons

I coloured patches of watercolour crayons randomly around the page until the page was covered in colour then I used a wet paintbrush over my colouring to activate the crayons – I also created swirls with my paintbrush to add extra interest to the page.

mixed media background watercolour crayons beginners

4.     Using acrylic paint and your fingers

For this background, I put some blobs of acrylic paint on the page and then moved the paint around the page using my fingers (I wear gloves to avoid getting paint on my skin). I sometimes mix the different colours using my fingers on the page but generally just have fun!

mixed media background beginners

5.     Using alcohol inks

To make this background, I used alcohol inks to drip different colours onto the page and then held the page up to allow it to drip, alternating directions. I also put blobs of the ink onto the page. I used a mixture of cool and warm colours for this page as I dried the cool colours before adding the warm colours.

mixed media background beginners alcohol ink

Have fun experimenting!

Next time, we will look at adding texture to your page or canvas, using lots of things you can find around the house.


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