(it ain't as easy as it looks...)
The term "Mixed Media" is all the rage right now. Technically, it is appropriate to use the term when more than one media (i.e. oil, acrylic, collage, pastel) are used in one piece. Popularly, it has come to also include lots of non-traditional art materials such as nuts, bolts, wires and scraps of wood. When someone gathers up lots of "found" materials and creates something intriguing, it is appropriately referred to as "assemblage" (easily enough, they assembled the piece not painted it).
This is just to put us all, painters and non-painters, on equal footing. In case you haven't noticed, there is a lot of crappy mixed media out there. The phrase "my grandchild could do that" comes to mind. Just because it is fun to make and frees one's inner spirit does not mean that everyone else will consider it art. Whether something is photo-realistic, abstract, or mixed media it should still adhere to the time proven ingredients of decent art: composition, color, eye direction, range of value etc etc.
So are all those wonderful, carefree and intriguing pieces easy to replicate? Well, just try it!! I needed a change of pace this week so decided it would be "mixed media."
Here are two beginnings:
both are on stretched canvas
12" x 24"
begun in similar styles with two differing color palettes
I wanted go "organic" and I wanted to do two at a time with different color palettes and yet with the similarity of starting with a canvas divided up into equal squares. The beginning stages are kind of fun...just let the ideas flow because ultimately you are going to cover up most of the early layers anyway.
Above you see acrylic, spray ink, and papers on a gessoed canvas.
As pieces and parts come together it gets slightly more complicated. In other words, suddenly you have a compositional dilemma to contend with...if the eye does not flow, if there is no center of interest....uh oh. I am not satisfied (therefore not finished) with this one. It has no real depth or direction. Admittedly, the parts that I am attaching (sticks and rocks) are only glued right now, I want to draw attention to them with more interesting ways of adhering.
This detail shows wire wraps on the stones and I think raffia will tie the sticks. Still, nothing really pops out of the piece or holds your attention. Definitely needs more editing. But the nice thing about mixed media is that corrections are part of the visual intrigue, so a few more layers is not a bad thing: I'm not giving up yet!
My second piece got ignored for a while as I concentrated on the other. It will be a challenge to stay organic in this color palette but I did find some feathers I had from a parrot in these exact colors. As you can see, it is still a hodge-podge of interesting parts all waiting to be brought together into some cohesive layout.
I don't know if mixed media is my "gig" because I tend to fall in love with little parts that I can't bear to cover up for the sake of harmony. I prefer the method of working out a composition first and laying down only whats needed to achieve it. But now and again it is nice to change things up and start with a bunch of "pretty" editing to achieve a composition. Not easy!
So don't be fooled: like any other field of art there is great, good and baaaad (and debatable) mixed media. Above are some examples of "bad" headed towards "good." I'll let you know when they get there.
MIXing it UP,