Task 16: Mixed Media

Mixed media art refers to a visual art form that combines a variety of media in a single artwork. For example, if you draw with ink, then paint over it with watercolors, then add some highlights in colored pencil – that’s mixed media!

The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and has become widespread as artists developed increasingly open attitudes to the media of art. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things.

Picasso and Braque were the first artists to put into question whether art could consist of pre-made materials. Collage questioned the separation between art and life—ideas so many artists of the 20th century—such as Duchamp, but also the Dadaists and Neo-Dadaartists like Robert Rauschenberg—would later also take-up.

Pablo Picasso, ‘Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper’ 1913

Pablo Picasso
Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper 1913


This task asks you to use your own photos for inspiration. This gives you a personal touch to the work and makes it increasingly unique. Recreating elements of that photo, or even recreating a previous artwork you have done, could be how you begin this task.

Everyone should start by thinking about the surface which is going to be used for the mixed media art work. If you are thinking of producing a painting, then adding other mediums to it possibly, then don’t just paint or draw on white cartridge paper and nothing else. Not that there is anything wrong with cartridge paper, but being able to experiment on various other textures and surfaces, will add to your dynamic variety of work. Painting onto something unexpected brings with it differing colours, textures, marks and irregularities of its own. So do try it as a starting point.

I am going to explore fibre art to open your eyes to a totally new way of approaching your art work. But you can use any media you wish 🙂


You need a theme… it can be food, nature, portraits… or a chosen artist like those mentioned above, or, Klimt, Chuck Close, Frida Kahlo, Hundertwasser – the reason I pluck these names out of my head is that I’m thinking ‘colours’ and maybe something abstract. Hundertwasser used foils and other mediums in his work so it is great to see how he did this. You will find many mixed media artists but you don’t have to find influence in this particular style of art, maybe just the patterns and textures in other art works which you then recreate yourself.

Going abstract could free you up when doing this art work as you have no pressure of trying to make it realistic… but go with your interests and choose a theme and artist that really interests you.

So for my example, I could combine both the ideas of ‘Nature’ and the artist ‘Klimt’.

So first I need to draw up some patterns and ideas from his artwork, so I look at Gustav Klimt’s work to get some inspiration-some are close-ups:

I can combine the colours and patterns found in these works with my own nature photos; by collecting fabrics, scraps of papers, wrappers and anything else I can find, it will help me to piece together my experimental mixed media. I have picked up on the use of metallic, bold colours of Klimt, and this is helping me to decide on my colour scheme. Also metallics can be found in a variety of materials so I will begin collecting with this in mind.

Find out what drawing and painting mediums will go onto the surfaces you are going to use. For fabric, I would hold it in an embroidery hoop to stretch the fabric firm so that I have a sturdy base on which to draw. I will pick out the textures and patterns I see in my photos to see how I can recreate these… I am not really thinking of creating a ‘flower’ but my abstract mixed media will have been inspired by them.

Patterns from flowers:

By experimenting with all of my images, I can now bring the two themes together to create something more unique and personal to me. The key to successful ideas is good research. Collect and study many aspects of your chosen theme to develop ideas into something great!

Here are some examples of how others may have used a range of materials to create their mixed media:


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


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