An Introduction to Mixed Media Artwork

An Introduction to Mixed Media Artwork

The term “mixed media artwork” is a relatively new one, especially if your only exposure to the world of art is via the fleeting fragments and short snippets that occasionally appear in the mainstream media. The phrase may be new, but the idea behind it certainly is not, as “mixed media” simply refers to any piece that has been constructed using multiple methods or techniques.

A Real World Example

A great example of the style is the mixed media painting “The Hunter and Two Cheetah” by SN. This beautiful grayscale painting features a woman standing in a field with a bow and arrow surrounded by two Cheetahs’. The artist has then added colorful three-dimensional butterflies atop the piece to create the lady’s dress, which adds an element of sharp, beautiful contrast to the muted greys of the remainder of the piece.

“The Hunter and Two Cheetah” by SN

Mixed media artworks can be as simple, or as complex, as the artist wishes to make them; the simplest mixed media pieces could consist of a basic sketch created in charcoal before watercolors are used to paint the main body of the piece. Colored pencils might then be used to add highlights or fine details to the finished artwork.

A more complex example would be a sculpture which is created specifically to be displayed in front of a mixed media collage. This backdrop could consist of a multiple-layer painting with three-dimensional elements such as the butterflies added to the above painting. Alternatively, paper folding techniques such as Origami can be used, or perhaps something that uses photographs in an original or unusual way.

The artist’s imagination is the solitary boundary in the world of mixed media artworks.

The Origins of Mixed Media

Whilst artists have obviously been combining multiple forms of media into single pieces of art for centuries, they were usually not defined in any specific way. Artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are both great examples of early 20th century artists who enjoyed combining multiple disciplines in interesting ways. Back then, pieces were usually categorized by the primary form of media – so our example above would probably have been sold as a painting, despite the three-dimensional elements.

In modern times, people have been keen to separate “classical” painting styles from these more unconventional artworks. One reason for this could be that some pieces are difficult to place in a conventional category. Whatever the reason for the growth in the use of the term mixed media, it seems to have had a compounding effect on the amount of these artworks being produced in the 21st century.

Some people shun categories and genres, believing that “pigeon-holing” things in this way stifles creativity, but it is undoubtedly a useful tool for people who are passionate about certain categories or genres. Having a term which you can search for when you want to find unusual artworks which combine several disciplines is useful for buyers.

This fact is most clearly highlighted by google’s search index results, which show a consistent interest in the term “mixed media” since 2004. Unsurprisingly, most searches for the term have been made by citizens of the United States and United Kingdom, although the term has also been very popular with art-loving Netizens of The Philippines as well.

What is the Most Popular Mixed Media?

There are potentially thousands of different combinations of media which could be used to create a mixed media artwork, so it would be impossible to list all of them. Several combinations do seem to be bubbling to the top in terms of popularity though and could eventually go on to become unique art forms themselves.

It’s no coincidence that I used a painting with additional mixed media elements for my primary example at the beginning of this article – for the time being, mixed media paintings seem to be the most common type of mixed media art.

Mixing different types of paint such as watercolors, acrylics, and pastels, can lead to much more interesting textures and effects than using just one of these types on their own. Painting using stencils or objects other than a conventional brush also seems popular amongst artists who regularly create mixed media art.

Paintings potentially have the most to gain by the addition of a second form of media, particularly three-dimensional elements. The finished pieces are much more striking and interesting than a conventional painting – there have even been stories of galleries having problems with viewers unconsciously trying to reach out and touch mixed media elements!

In addition to paintings, sculptures, collages/papercraft, and photography are the three other main “bases” currently being used by artists as the scaffold on which to construct their mixed media creations. If you haven’t seen examples of each of these just yet, I highly recommend you seek them out in person as soon as you can – there are few things in life which can match the excitement of viewing a brand new type of art for the first time.

About Haider Ali Khan

I'm an Independent Cyber Security Researcher, a geek who loves Cyber Security and Technology.