10 Tips for Mixed Media Techniques in Art
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Experiment with different surfaces
  2. Use found objects
  3. Try stamping and stenciling
  4. Combine drawing and painting
  5. Incorporate texture
  6. Layer it up
  7. Mix up the mediums
  8. Add collage elements
  9. Experiment with photo transfer
  10. Explore 3D elements

When it comes to exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, there's an entire universe of possibilities out there. It's a world where the boundaries of creativity are pushed, and you're free to mix, match, and experiment. This blog will guide you through 10 effective tips to get you started or enhance your journey in the realm of mixed media art.

Experiment with different surfaces

One of the best parts about mixed media is the freedom to explore beyond the traditional canvas. Just as a chef experiments with flavors, your art can play with a variety of surfaces: metal, wood, fabric, or even glass. Each surface brings its unique charm and challenges, allowing you to create a distinctive piece of art. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Wood: Using wood as your surface can add a rustic feel to your work. Its grainy texture can add depth to your piece and can work beautifully with acrylic, oil paints, or even collage work.
  • Metal: If you're interested in a more industrial look, try metal. It's perfect for encaustic art (wax-based paint) and provides a sleek background for bold, vibrant colors.
  • Fabric: For softer, more flexible pieces, fabric is your friend. You can sew, paint or glue on it—great for mixed media textile art.
  • Glass: Ever considered painting on glass? It offers a slick, glossy surface that can make your colors pop. Plus, it gives a stunning stained glass effect when held against the light.

Remember, the key to exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression is to keep an open mind and not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. So, go ahead and experiment with different surfaces—it's time for your creativity to shine!

Use found objects

Let's talk about found objects. No, I don't mean random things you find lying around your house—although those can work too. In the context of mixed media art, found objects refer to ordinary, everyday items that you can incorporate into your artwork to give it a unique, personal touch. These objects add a three-dimensional aspect to your work, making it pop right off the canvas—or whatever surface you're using.

Think about it: a piece of old lace could represent a beloved grandmother, a rusty key could symbolize unlocking memories, or bottle caps could form a colorful mosaic. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep an eye out: You'd be surprised how many potential art materials you can find in a day. Be it a feather on your morning walk, a ticket stub from a memorable concert, or the wrapper from your favorite candy bar, everything has artistic potential.
  • Play with texture: Found objects can add a lot of texture to your work. The smoothness of glass, the roughness of bark, or the softness of fabric can all bring your artwork to life.
  • Get personal: Use objects that have personal significance to you. Not only will this make your artwork more meaningful, but it can also tell a story that's uniquely yours.
  • Think outside the box: Literally. Who says you can't stick a small box on your artwork and fill it with tiny treasures? Or use an old photo frame as part of your composition? Be creative with your choices.

Remember, in exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, there are no rules. So, the next time you see a shiny piece of foil or an interestingly shaped pebble, pick it up. It might just be the missing piece in your next artwork.

Try stamping and stenciling

Another great way of exploring mixed media is through stamping and stenciling. These techniques can add interesting patterns and designs to your artwork, making it even more eye-catching. And the best part? You don't need to be an expert in drawing to create stunning designs.

Stamps and stencils come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and themes. But you can also create your own. Here's how:

  • Make your own stamps: Carving a stamp is easier than you think. You can use an eraser or a piece of soft linoleum. Draw your design on it, and then carve around the lines with a craft knife. Dip your stamp in ink or paint, and press it onto your artwork.
  • Create custom stencils: All you need is a piece of cardstock or a plastic sheet. Draw your design and then cut it out. Place the stencil on your artwork, and apply paint or ink over it. Remove the stencil, and voila! You have a neat design on your art piece.

Stamping and stenciling not only add visual interest to your artwork but also create a sense of depth and texture. And remember, exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression is all about experimenting. So, don't be afraid to mix and match different stamps and stencils in your artwork. Who knows? You might just stumble upon a combination that truly represents your artistic vision.

Combine drawing and painting

When it comes to exploring mixed media and combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, the marriage between drawing and painting is a match made in heaven. This dynamic duo can open up a world of creativity for you. Here's how to get started:

  • Start with a sketch: Before you dive into painting, sketching your idea on the canvas can give you a clear roadmap. It doesn't have to be perfect; just a simple outline will do. This is your chance to map out your composition and ensure everything falls in the right place.
  • Bring in the colors: Once you're happy with your sketch, it's time to bring it to life with colors. Whether you choose watercolors, acrylics, or oils, painting will add vibrancy and emotion to your artwork. Remember, there's no right or wrong here; it's all about what you feel.
  • Add details with drawing: After painting, you can use drawing tools like pencils or markers to add intricate details. These can be anything from patterns and textures to shadows and highlights. Drawing on top of paint can give your artwork a unique, mixed media look.

Mixing drawing and painting can take your artwork to new heights. It allows you to play with different textures, styles, and effects, making each piece unique. So, why not give it a try? It might just be the perfect technique for you to express your creativity through mixed media.

Incorporate texture

One of the most exciting parts of exploring mixed media is the opportunity to incorporate texture. This aspect of art is often overlooked but can add an incredible amount of depth and realism to your work. Here are a few ways you can add texture to your mixed media projects:

  • Impasto technique: This involves applying paint thickly so that it stands out from the surface. The result is a work of art that feels as interesting as it looks. You can use a palette knife or a thick brush to achieve this effect.
  • Collage: What better way to introduce texture than by adding different materials? From pieces of fabric to snippets of newspaper, the possibilities are endless. The key here is to ensure that the pieces you add contribute to the overall theme or message of your artwork.
  • Texture mediums: Many art supply stores sell texture mediums that you can mix with your paint. These can include sand, beads, or even small pebbles. These mediums can give your artwork an unexpected and tactile quality.

Remember, the goal here isn't to overwhelm, but to enhance. A little texture can go a long way in adding interest and depth to your work. So don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for your artistic expression.

Layer it up

Another intriguing aspect of exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques is the art of layering. Layering can unleash a world of possibilities, allowing you to create depth, introduce a sense of history, or build a narrative within your artwork. Here's how you can start layering in mixed media:

  • Start with a base: Begin with a foundational layer. This can be a wash of color, a simple sketch, or even a collage of newspaper clippings. The base layer sets the tone for your artwork, so choose wisely.
  • Add more elements: As you build on your base layer, aim to add complexity and interest. You can add more paint, draw on top, add collage elements, or even incorporate 3D objects. Each layer you add brings more depth to your artwork.
  • Transparency is key: To ensure that each layer is visible and contributes to the overall artwork, consider using materials that are semi-transparent or can be thinned down. This will allow the layers beneath to peek through, creating a fascinating interplay of elements.

Remember, each layer is a new opportunity to add meaning and dimension to your work. So, don't be shy—layer it up and watch your mixed media masterpiece come to life!

Mix up the mediums

While working on your mixed media masterpiece, there's no reason to limit yourself to just one medium. In fact, one of the greatest joys of exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, lies in the freedom to mix and match different mediums to create unique effects. Let's look at some ways to do this:

  • Dabble with drawing and painting: Who said you can't mix drawing and painting? Sketch out your design with a pencil and then fill in with vibrant watercolors. Or, use charcoal for shading over your acrylic painting. This combination of mediums can create visually stunning pieces.
  • Get textural: Want to add some real-world feel to your piece? Try mixing in some sand with your paint for a gritty texture, or use fabric scraps to add softness. These tactile elements can really make your artwork pop.
  • Go digital: In this age of technology, why not incorporate some digital elements? Print out your digital designs and combine them with traditional painting or drawing. This blend of old and new can result in some truly unique works of art.

Remember, the aim is to create a piece that's uniquely you. So, don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with it. After all, when it comes to exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques, the world is your canvas!

Add collage elements

Another fun way of exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression is adding collage elements into your work. Collage is a fantastic tool that can breathe life into your pieces and provide a visual feast for the eyes. Here's how you can seamlessly integrate collage into your mixed media art:

  • Magazines and Newspapers: This might sound like your elementary school craft project, but trust me, it's a whole lot more. Cut out interesting images or text from magazines and newspapers. Arrange and glue them onto your canvas. This can create striking visuals and intriguing narratives.
  • Photographs: Why not add a personal touch to your art? Use personal or found photographs, print them in different sizes, and incorporate them into your artwork. It's a wonderful way to preserve memories while creating something beautiful.
  • Scrap Material: Don't throw away those scraps of fabric or paper just yet! These materials can be valuable additions to your mixed media piece. They can add texture and depth, giving your work a multi-dimensional feel.

Adding collage elements not only gives your work a unique look but also recycles materials that may have been discarded otherwise. So, next time you're exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, remember to add some collage elements!

Experiment with Photo Transfer

Ever wondered how to make your art pieces more personal and unique? Well, let me introduce you to the technique of photo transfer. It's an interesting way of exploring mixed media and combining materials for artistic expression. Photo transfer enables you to incorporate your favorite photographs directly into your artwork. Here's how you can get started:

  1. Choose Your Photo: Start with picking a photo that resonates with you. It could be a family portrait, a landscape, or a random click. Remember, the beauty of art lies in your personal connection with it.
  2. Print Your Photo: Once you've selected your photo, print it out using a laser printer. Inkjet prints do not work well for this technique, so make sure you use a laser print.
  3. Apply Medium: Next, apply a layer of gel medium onto your canvas where you want to place the photo. Then, place the photo face down onto the medium.
  4. Let It Dry: Let the gel medium dry completely. This could take a few hours or overnight, depending on the thickness of the medium.
  5. Reveal the Image: Once dry, wet the paper with water and gently rub it off using your fingers or a sponge. The image will be transferred onto the canvas, giving it a vintage, worn-out look.

Photo transfers can create a stunning visual impact with a nostalgic vibe. So, if you're exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression, don't forget to give photo transfer a shot!

Explore 3D Elements

Art is not just about flat canvases and two-dimensional drawings. There's a whole world of depth and dimension waiting for you to explore! Adding 3D elements to your art can take it to a whole new level. Ready to dive into the world of 3D mixed media art?

  1. Start Small: If you're new to 3D, start small. Try adding small objects, like beads, buttons, or pieces of fabric, to your artwork. You'll be amazed at how these tiny details can add a surprising amount of depth!
  2. Use Everyday Items: Exploring mixed media: combining materials and techniques for artistic expression is all about using what you have around you. Look for objects around your house that you can incorporate into your art. An old key, a piece of lace, or even a broken piece of jewelry can make stunning 3D elements.
  3. Try Different Materials: Don't limit yourself to paper and paint. Try using clay, wood, or even metal in your art. Mixing materials can lead to unexpected and beautiful results.
  4. Play with Light: 3D elements can cast shadows, creating a dramatic effect. Position your 3D elements in a way that plays with light and shadow.

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to create art. It's all about expressing yourself and having fun in the process. So why not start exploring 3D elements in your mixed media art? Who knows, you might discover a whole new dimension of creativity!

If you're inspired to explore more mixed media techniques after reading our blog on "10 Tips for Mixed Media Techniques in Art," we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Creative Mixed Processes: From Traditional Sketches to Large Murals' by Bryan Sánchez M. Dive into the world of mixed media art and learn how to create stunning pieces by combining traditional sketches and large murals in this engaging workshop.