Mixed Media Primer: Learn to Paint Faster, Fix Problems, and Have Fun Making Art | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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Mixed Media Primer: Learn to Paint Faster, Fix Problems, and Have Fun Making Art

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (60m)
    • 1. Introduction to Mixed Media

    • 2. Types of Media

    • 3. Media Characteristics

    • 4. Evaluating a Medium

    • 5. Combining and Layering

    • 6. Choosing Media

    • 7. Demo: Hummingbird

    • 8. Demo: Robin

    • 9. Wrap Up & Class Project

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About This Class

If you hear the term mixed media, what comes to mind? Collage? Textural abstract pieces? The incorporation of non-traditional art supplies and found elements?

Mixed media is indeed all of those things, but at a baseline level, it's simply a broad category that encompasses any work of art that’s made with more than a single type media.


In this class I'm going to share my process for using mixed media as a professional illustrator making detailed, realistic work. As a freelancer, time is a precious resource and if I'm under a deadline, I have to be able to deliver, even when I hit a snag or get thrown a curve ball. Strategically choosing, combining and layering different media to solve specific artistic challenges and achieve the aesthetic I'm after is one of the most valuable tools in my toolkit, and I'm excited to share it with you!


For example, there are times I want to quickly and easily create a large wash of color, so I use watercolor which is great for large washes. Then, I might want to add some refined detail and add light over dark, so I use colored pencils on top of the watercolor. Then, I might want to tweak the texture by adding some softness, so I’d incorporate soft pastels. Lastly, I might want to add some bits of opaque white or lighter highlights so I’d use gouache. 


Understanding and using mixed media in this way lets you:

  1. Choose the best tool for the job
  2. Speed up your process 
  3. Save pieces that might otherwise be ruined
  4. Have fun experimenting!

We’ll learn how to use mixed media this way with:

  1. A basic overview of different types of media
  2. A discussion of the characteristics and strengths of common art supplies
  3. An introduction to combining and layering different types of media
  4. A discussion about how to evaluate and choose which media you should use
  5. Narrated demos of 2 of my favorite mixed media combinations


Please note, the main focus of this class is the actual mixed media technique and how to apply it to specific artistic goals, but we won’t be going over basics like composition, color theory or how to draw realistically. As such, this class is best suited for artists who have some experience drawing or painting already.

After completing this course, you’ll be ready to choose, test and combine different media to achieve your artistic goals. With practice, you’ll be able to work more quickly, and to save and finish pieces that you might otherwise have considered ruined or lost. I hope you'll join me in the class and learn to unleash the true potential of mixed media!

Meet Your Teacher

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Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator

Top Teacher

My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

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1. Introduction to Mixed Media: Hello and welcome to my studio. My name is Kendyll Hillegas and I'm an artist in Illustrator. I use Mixed Media to create realistic paintings of people, food, plants, animals, pretty much anything that you can think of, I use Mixed Media to draw or paint it. At a baseline level of Mixed Media is a really broad category that just means, any piece of artwork that has been created using more than one type of media. So as you can imagine, that is a really big category. It can include lots of different styles, lots of different types of wear. For the purposes of this class, we're going to narrow our focus a little bit. I'm going to really zero in on learning to strategically use Mixed Media to achieve realistic work or to solve specific artistic problems. This is the way that I use Mixed Media as a professional illustrator. It's the technique I use in pretty much all of my work and I'm excited to share this technique with you because understanding and using Mixed Media in this way, the way that I do as a professional illustrator, can do four pretty amazing things for you. Number 1, it lets you have the freedom to choose the best tool for the job instead of being stuck with only a single tool and Number 2, that ability to choose whatever works the most efficiently, is going to inevitably make you more efficient in your artistic process. The more familiar you get with this way of working, the more efficient you'll be with your time in the studio, which means that you can create finished pieces of work faster. Number 3, it lets you save or continue working on pieces that you might otherwise have considered a lost cause. For example, you might come to the end of what is possible with a single media, but if you are open-minded enough and able to incorporate 1, 2, 3, even 4 other types of media, you can solve all sorts of other problems in your piece and ultimately get it to a state of completion that wouldn't have been possible with just a single media. Last but not least, of course, it's really fun. Working in Mixed Media can help you bring a real spirit of experimentation and exploration into the studio, which can be really rewarding and helpful when you're working in the creative arts. In this class, we'll learn to use Mixed Media in this really strategic focus way by first and foremost, having a discussion of the different types of media that are out there, and then an overview of the different characteristics, the strengths, and weaknesses of many common media. Number 3, an introduction to combining and layering different art supplies, both some of the common combinations that I know to work well, that other artists use as well and also a process for testing, and experimenting with new combinations that you might want to develop yourself. Number 4, I will unpack how I choose which media I'm going to use, which combinations I'm going to use in a particular piece. Number 5 will have to fully narrated demos where I'll create two different Mixed Media paintings from start to finish, they'll each be made with different combinations, some of my favorite combinations of Mixed Media so that you can see how I do some of that problem-solving and choosing of a particular media for specific artistic goals. Now, one thing to note, the main focus of this class is actual Mixed Media technique and how to use it to problem solve and apply to specific artistic goals. So we're not going to be going over basics like how to draw or perspective, or color theory. Because of that, this class is probably best suited for artists to have some familiarity and some comfort in those places already and who are looking to potentially expand their toolkit. Maybe, if you are used to working in only one media or only when media at a time and you want to learn how to get out of that a little bit, and bring other media in and mix it up, then this class is definitely for you. I would say whether you're a professional or an aspiring artist, or a hobby artist, either way, it's going to be a really valuable skill for you to have, because if you're a professional like me, time is really so important. So being able to complete work efficiently and not have to go back over, and recreate work from the beginning if you've made a mistake or hit a roadblock, that's just so important. Even if you're an aspiring artist or a hobby artist, most of the time you might not have as much time as we do to be in the studio working on a painting. So it can be especially frustrating if you end up having to start over again or work for several sittings on a painting that you're not able to finish. Either way, whether you're one under the spectrum or the other, this skill is really invaluable one to have in your toolkit. After completing this course, you'll be ready to do what I do to evaluate and strategically choose different media to solve your own artistic challenges and goals. With time and practice, you'll be able to work more quickly, more efficiently, and even with more creativity and open-ended potential. I hope you can sense my genuine excitement for Mixed Media. As I've said, it's what I use in pretty much all of my professional work. So it's a technique I am really familiar with and just really passionate about and I'm excited to share it with you. So I hope to see you in the class. 2. Types of Media: Welcome back. In this lesson, we are going to dive right into the foundation of a good mixed media practice and that is an understanding of some of the basic different types of media. Before we dive into that, a really quick little caveat, and that is that there are many, many different types of media made from different pigments with different binders, activated with different chemicals and used with different solvents. Basically, there are too many for me to go over every single media in existence, I don't even know all of them. To keep ourselves focused, we are going to concentrate on four main families of media types. Those are oil and wax-based media, water and acrylic based media, alcohol-based media, and dry media. First up, oil and wax-based media. Generally these are media that require a solvent to blend, although sometimes they can be somewhat blended with friction, and there are two main varieties within this category. One is media that are made with active or drying oils. That would be oil paint or oil bars, they're really wet and a creamy consistency and they eventually dry down to a really hard finish. Then the other category would be oil wax-based media that are made with inactive or inert oils or waxes. That would be oil pastels or wax or oil-based colored pencils. Next up we have acrylic based or water activated media. Generally these mediums only require water to blend or activate them. Some examples of water-based water-soluble media would be watercolor, watercolor pencil, water-based ink, acrylic, water-based markers, and even water soluble wax pastels. As we go through this list, you'll see that there are some that could overlap or transition between two different categories of media, water-soluble wax pastels are a great example of that. They are wax-based, but the wax is water-soluble, so they could in a way almost fit in both categories. Next up number three, alcohol-based media. As the name suggests, generally these require alcohol to blend and they're a pigment that has been encapsulated, dissolved in alcohol base. Some examples of alcohol media would be liquid alcohol ink, alcohol markers like Copic or Prismacolor. Certain types of pens have alcohol ink well. Last but not least, number four is dry media. Generally dry media only need friction to blend. Some examples of dry media would be soft pastel, charcoal, graphite, pencil, Conte crayons, those could overlap with the wax based media as well, and colored pencils might even fit in this category technically because you can blend especially certain brands. You can blend them with friction and they after all pretty dry even though they are in oil or wax-based. More of that overlap there as you see between different categories. Again, just to reiterate one more time what I said at the beginning, there are many, many other varieties of media that we can't go over today but if you're interested in using some of those other types of media, say for example, if you want to use enamel or encaustic or some poured resin, you can still use the techniques that we're going to go over in the coming lessons to learn how to evaluate those media and to figure out how and when to incorporate them into a piece of artwork. Next up we're going to dive into media characteristics. 3. Media Characteristics: Before choosing a media to incorporate into your artwork, it's important to consider that every single type of media will have its own characteristics, its own advantages and disadvantages. An awareness of these will enable you to choose the art supply that is the most efficient, the most effective for the task, or the problem you have at hand. If you are someone who has already experimented with a lot of different types of media, you may have some sensor, some familiarity of the strengths and weaknesses of different media. But I want to share with you 10 key questions that I ask myself when I'm evaluating media and trying to figure out where it's strong or where it's weak so that I can know how best to use it within the course of painting. All right. Those 10 questions are; Number 1, what type of media is it? Which of those four broad families does it fall into; oil, water, alcohol, or dry. Number 2, can it easily cover a large surface area? Number 3, can it easily develop detail? Number 4, can it be used on my chosen substrate? Does it work on the surface that I'm actually working on, the paper, or the canvas, the wood, whatever it is. Number 5, what is the natural texture of the media like? Most media can be blended or smoothed out, but if you have experimented with many different types of media, you know that some lend themselves to this better than others. Having an understanding of what the art supply wants to do, the natural personality it has can be really helpful. Number 6, how does it react to layering? How many times can you layer it over itself before the quality of the surface that you're working on is negatively affected or before the color gets muddy. Number 7, how easy is it to blend? As we said a moment ago, most art supplies can be blended somewhat, but there are certainly some that are easier to blend than others. For example, something like acrylic wash dries really quickly, you have to work really fast to blend it, whereas something like oil paint has a really slow drying time, so it's much easier to blend. Number 8, how vibrant are the colors? You'll notice, the more you work, the more you experiment with different types of media, that from media to media and sometimes even from brand to brand within certain types of media, there can be a really wide range of color vibrancy. Having an awareness of which colors are the most vibrant in which media, can be really helpful. Number 9, how easy is it to mix color? Again, pretty much every media you can mix color in some way, but certain media it's easier to do than others. For example, with oil and acrylic paints, most of the time, those are pigment based, they have the pure pigment in them and you have more flexibility and more freedom to mix the exact color that you want as opposed to something like a marker, or a colored pencil, where those are already pigment or color blends, some of that mixing has already been done for you and you have to be careful to not incorporate too many different colors otherwise, it can get muddy. Another aspect that I consider is, how easy it is to create a palette and then reproduce that pallet. Again, going back to the oil and acrylic example, if you create a whole palette with all the colors that you need for your piece with acrylic and you're ready to go, that is actually going to dry really quickly. Unless you add some sort of an agent that will slow down the drying process, you can potentially spend a lot of time mixing up all of your colors, getting your palette just right, and then only be able to work maybe one sitting with those colors before having them dry out. Whereas with oils, you could spend the same amount of time mixing, but they'll be ready for you to use for several settings, especially if you add some sort of a cover over the top of your palate. Then colored pencils on the other end, this is a reason why I'm a fan of colored pencils, even though they have more limitations with being already mixed with themselves, is that you can just keep coming back to them over and over again, you don't have to worry about them drying out. It's a broad category, but thinking of the ease of color mixing and the ease of working with the colors that you have mixed. All right. The last question, the last attribute is, is it opaque or translucent? How see-through or not see-through is it? 4. Evaluating a Medium: So to unpack these characteristics a bit further, I'm going to use them to evaluate and media that I will be using later on in one of the demonstrations, liquid watercolor. You can guess by its name, watercolor, that it is a water-based media. This is a little bit different than traditional watercolor, either the pan watercolor, or the tube watercolor, where the pigment is suspended in a concentrated liquid. Just like regular watercolor, it's activated and blended with water. I've got a little swatch sheet right here and I have it numbered two through ten since I've already answered the first question, is a water-based media, and I'm going to go through and test out each of these characteristics on one of these little swatches. Characteristic Number 2, can it easily cover a large surface area? I'm using a fairly small brush here, but I'll just run this over, and we can see pretty quickly that like most paints, like most watercolors, it's fairly easy to get it to evenly and smoothly cover a large area. Number 3, I'm still using the same brush here. But Number 3 is easily developed detail? like most watercolor again, depending on how you apply it and the tool that you use, it is very capable of developing detail, getting really fine lines. I'm using a Size 6 brush here, Size 6 brown. Can you imagine, if I was using a zero or one or even a two that I'd be able to get some really refined level of detail here. Just a personal note, even though objectively I can say yes, watercolors are good for developing detail, I personally find using watercolor to develop detail to be quite tedious. For me, I will give it a lower rating on that, just because I know that I don't like that process. I don't like using it for that, and that's again, some of the benefit that you'll get as you invest time in experimenting and understanding and being familiar with different media. You may know, oils are really easy to blend, but I don't actually like working with them very much. This is all a trade-off, and while there are some objective elements to it, as you can see it, it does have some inherent subjectivity. Characteristic Number 4, can it be used on my chosen substrate? For the purposes of this test, I am working on a piece of watercolor paper. Yes, it can be used on this watercolor paper. But just overall and awareness of liquid watercolor and most watercolors, they generally do need to be used on paper, a special watercolor paper, or some the surface that has been prepared with a watercolor ground. They're not like acrylic where you have almost an infinite flexibility to use them on really whatever surface you want there. There are some limitations with substrates. Number 5, what's the natural texture like? I would say, it's pretty similar to most water colors. In my experience, it's a little bit smoother than pen watercolor and maybe even a little smoother than traditional tube watercolor or certain brands of traditional tube watercolor anyway, it tends to dry to a fairly even. You can actually see in this one I did over here, it's pretty even it doesn't really have the really strong watercolor effects that certain types of watercolor do. But that being said, it is still watercolor, and it does still have some unpredictability, it's not going to be even completely smooth as if you were doing a really heavy opaque lay-down of something like wash. Number 6, how does it react to layering? Earlier I put down this quinacridone colored, dot of watercolor, and with watercolor, you can really do lots of layers because it's a very thin, very light media. But a key question with watercolor is, how much and to what extent the under layers will be reactivated by adding a new layer on top? We're going to check that out right now. I've just got some watered down cadmium on my brush, and as you can see, it's a really not reactivating much at all. There's a little tiny bit of reactivation and not because I didn't leave it to dry all that long. But as I've mentioned, I do have quite a bit of familiarity with this media already, and that's one of the reasons I like liquid watercolor as opposed to other varieties of watercolor like tuber palm, is that it generally doesn't reactivate on the paper once it's completely dry, which can give you a lot of flexibility for different types of layering. It layers, well, it doesn't reactivate what's underneath. Number 7, is it easy to blend? I'm going to put a couple of different colors down here. I'm doing the cadmium, now I'm going to grab a little bit at quinacridone. So like most watercolors, it can really only be blended once when it's wet. If it's completely dried, your only options for blending art is to continue adding other glazes, to try to blend. Blending in the traditional sense of using your brush on the surface to mix the two different colors together, is fairly limited to when the medium is wet. In addition, because it's watercolor, you have that element of unpredictability. When you're blending something like acrylic, or oil, or even oil pastels, for example, you do have quite a bit of precision and you know exactly the area that you're blending, and you can really focus on some really small areas with watercolor. If you're trying to blend two different areas of wet pigment, it's challenging because it's water and it's going to behave in the way that it wants to behave. I would say yes, blending as possible with some certain limitations. Number 8, how vibrant are the colors? That's another one of the things I really like about liquid watercolor is, the colors are just super, super vibrant and they're not even really coming across as well on camera. But particularly, the reds can be tricky color to get vibrancy in. But particularly, the reds have a just a really nice luminescent quality to them. So I would rank them pretty high on the vibrancy list. Number 9, is it easy to mix color? We already talked about blending and blending means how does it blend for me, blending means how does it blend on the substrate when you're working? But in talking about mixing colors, what I mean is mixing colors on the palette. I'm going to show you here, this is the palette that I worked on when I do liquid watercolor,. To rank this in terms of how easy it is to mix, I would say it is possible to mix and you have some pure pigments, which is really nice in terms of flexibility. But a challenge is that you can see that the color actually can look a little bit different in the well than it does when it's on the paper. For example, here's the quinacridone, which look like really dark and you don't always have a good sense of how it's going to look once it's on the substrate. That's especially true if you're mixing a few different colors. If you're using something that's just like straight cadmium or straight quinacridone, you might have a good sense already of what those colors are supposed to look like. But if you're mixing your own colors, it can be more challenging than mixing with oils, for example, because you have to mix it and then you have to test it on a little test strip of paper to make sure that you've got the right color. Then in addition, while I love that these are not reactivated when they're layered, the flip side of that is that they're not really reactivated as well on the palette is something like tube water color would be. You can reactivate them a little bit, but then you tend to get flakes of paint and stuff that comes off of the palette and can muddy the effect of it. So you have to mix it fresh really each time you're using it or you have to put a cover over the palette. I would say, it's certainly possible to mix different colors, but that is a trade off with this media. I liked the vibrancy, I like how well it layers, I like how even the surface dries, but it is a bit more challenging to mix color. I guess, I didn't need a swatch for Number 9. Well, the last characteristic is, is it opaque or translucent? I've drawn a couple of lines with a sharpie marker here and I'm just grabbing some turquoise off of my palette, and we're going to just laid over the lines, and you can see it's quite translucent, so this is not a surprise, pretty much watercolors this way. I'm going to try grabbing a different color and I'm going to get it really concentrated and not add much water. This is quinacridone. Now it's very dark, so the black isn't necessarily popping quite as much, but I hope you can still see that it is really still very translucent. The black is still showing through pretty visibly. So even if I have a really thick application of it, really concentrated application, true opacity isn't really possible with this medium. Being aware of all of these characteristics and having a real familiarity with them, is going to help me make an informed decision about when I should use liquid watercolor versus another type of watercolor, and when and how I should combine it with other media to make up for some of those areas where it's not quite so strong like the opacity or maybe the ability to blend on the substrate. Having that understanding is going to make it possible to make strategic and informed decisions. For Part 1 of the class project, we're finally to a hands-on point here. I'd like you to do the same thing that I just did here or you can make yourself a little swatch strip. As we've just learned, you actually only need eight squares and take your swatch strip, and the questions that we have, those are going to be in the class materials as well, and evaluate medium of your choice, or maybe even two or three is could be something that you're already really familiar with. You haven't thought through in a systematic way yet, or it could be something that is totally new to you, that you've never experimented with before at all. In which case, you might even need to do a few more swatches to really have a good understanding of how it's going to perform. Once you're done, please do post your findings, maybe with some notes then answers to those 10 questions, along with a photo of your swatches in the class project section. Just a reminder, again that there could be some real subjectivity here. We might get to different people evaluating the same media and coming up with very different conclusions, and that's all just a part of the process and it'll be helpful for everyone in learning. Now finally, in addition to what you're going to learn from your own experimentation and your own testing and evaluation, I've gone ahead and put together a little bit of a chart that goes over some of the basic types of media, the types of media that I use most frequently, and my rankings of each of these characteristics. So which ones are really strong and opacity versus which ones are really translucent, which ones do really well with detail versus which ones do really well with covering a large surface area, and you can find that chart in the class materials section as well. Just one more plug for the subjectivity. That chart is how I feel about all of those media, but it may not necessarily be how you feel about those media. It could be a really good place to start, especially if you are someone who isn't familiar with many different types of media yet. But I would still encourage you to do your own process of experimentation, and evaluation, and figuring out which media work really well for you in the way that you, you like to create your artwork. Next up, we're going to dive into best practices for combining media. 5. Combining and Layering: Now that we understand some of the basic strengths and weaknesses of individual art supplies and have a sense of how to evaluate them on our own. It's time to tackle the process of combining media, which is really the heart of mixed media practice. The basic question when it comes to working in mixed media is, can I combine X and Y? Pretty much always the answer is going to be yes. It's just about going in the right order and working on the right surface. First step how to determine the right order. There are two general rules of thumb. The first is that you want to use anything that can be blended or activated with water first. Watercolor, acrylic, watercolor pencils and anything that is oil or wax based second. Rule number two, is to use light media first and heavy media second. In this situation, I use light to mean that the media doesn't fully fill up, doesn't fully cover the substrate. For example, if you're using a combination of colored pencil and watercolor, you use watercolor first, since it's lighter and fills up the substrate less than colored pencil. Also of course, because the watercolor is water-based and the colored pencil is wax or oil based. If on the other hand, you're using colored pencil and oil bar, they're both wax or oil-based, but the colored pencil is actually the much lighter one in this situation. Once you lay down something like an oil bar, oil paint or even like a really heavy application of acrylic or oil pastels, the texture of the surface of whatever you're working on is going to be so full, that you won't be able to add on something that is inherently light, like colored pencil or watercolor on top of it because there won't be anywhere for it to go. The second overall point is to consider the substrate. Think about the surface that you're working on. You need to be sure that the surface that you're working on is either appropriate, or has been prepped and ready and made appropriate for not just the main type of media that you're working on or the first type of media that you're working with, but with every single other type of media that you're going to include as well. For example, if you are starting with layers of watercolor and you're working on paper and you want to add something like oil bar on top, that's possible. But that paper first has to be prepped and ready to receive something like oil bar that has an activated or drying oil in it. This, as you can probably sense, is another really big topic. We could have a whole class just on what media work on what's substrates. I'm just going to touch on this as an important consideration and something that you should be aware of when you do your research, which is what we're going to talk about right now. What to do when you want to research a new combination of media. Step one is just to Google. There is so much helpful information out there online. Everything from, really refined and elaborate tutorials that go over how to combine different media, down to just reading through message boards and looking at questions that other people have asked in things that other people have experimented and tried. This is what I do when I want to learn how to incorporate a media. I just start on Google. The three things to Google are first, using X with Y, so using watercolor with oil bar or using colored pencils with wax pastels. Second, using X on top of Y. That's a key difference there, because sometimes as we have already discussed, the order really matters. Using X with Y, using X on top of Y, and last but not least, using Y on Z substrate. Going back to that initial example of the watercolor and oil bar, save created a watercolor painting and you're thinking, well, I wonder if I can use oil bar on top of this are oil paint on top of this. Even if it meets those other criteria, even though the water colors lighter, the oil is heavier. If the oil will not work on the surface that you have had the watercolor on, you need to either find a way to prep the surface to make sure it's ready or to use a different media. After you have done your googling, after you've done your initial research, step two is always to experiment. Even if you have found someone that says online, oh sure, no problem, you can use oil paint on paper. You want to check that for yourself. You want to make sure to check other sources and you want to make sure to experiment yourself. I always recommend experimenting on scrap pieces of paper, just like we've already been doing. I find that often the times that I am in the situation, the times that I'm googling. Can I use X with Y? Can I use Y on Z substrate? Those are times when I am already midway through a piece and I've come up against some big roadblock that is really causing me problems and I can't figure out how to solve with any of the media that I currently have or used. I do my research and rather than just taking what I find online and using it immediately on my painting, I will take a step back, even though it's hard to do and create some swatches that replicate what I already have on my painting. Maybe I have already done watercolor, colored pencils and a little bit of acrylic. I will recreate that on a swatch watercolor colored pencil acrylic, and then I'll test out that new medium on top. Now, as you start doing this, as you really dive in and do more and more experimentation, you'll find that there are exceptions to these rules. One I just mentioned right there, sometimes I'll use acrylic on top of colored pencil. Even though colored pencils or oil or wax based. Acrylic has such a strong binder in it that if there's a little bit of the substrate texture showing through, whether it's wood or paper or Canvas, that's enough for the acrylic to hold onto and for me it works well. But layering acrylic on top of a really heavy application of oil pastels or oil paint would be problematic and probably wouldn't work as well. I've created another chart that has some of my personal favorite combinations for a mixed media paintings, including the order that I use the different media and hopefully this will be another good resource for you when you're getting started with your experimentation and putting together your own combinations. Should just give you a good sense of some of my standardize and some things that other artists use as well. They might give you an idea of how to put together a unique combination that's going to work really well for you and your painting. On that note for part two of the class project, you have probably already guessed it. We are going to make some sample mixed media swatches. Choose a group of two to four different media, and you might even do a few different groupings and then layer them according to what we discussed in this lesson. Water or alcohol-based first, oil or wax based second, and then light first and heavy second. Try different combinations too, try different thicknesses and weights. You might even try experimenting with a combination or order that is totally the opposite of what we just said. Maybe you want to try putting down a really heavy application of colored pencil first and see what happens when you put water color on top. Anything goes here, this is just experimentation and fun, trying to figure out different combinations that you like that will work well for you in your work. Be sure to let whatever you create, sit and dry and chill for a full 24 hours, before you draw any conclusions. If you're incorporating something like oil paint or oil bar, you may even need to let it dry longer. The reason this is important is that sometimes if you lay something down in a test swatch, it can look good initially. But after a while you might see that it starts to flake off a little bit or that there's some bleed through from other pigments or other media underneath. Giving it time to really set and dry and become what it's going to become is important to do before you decide if it's going to work in an actual painting. Once you're done its share your swatches and your findings, if you have any notes or thoughts in the class project section. 6. Choosing Media: Welcome back. The plan for this lesson is to learn to choose your mediums based on the artistic problems you want solved and the tools that you have at hand. I want to achieve x, which medium is the best fit. We're ready to do that at this point because we've gone over the basic media families, the different characteristics of specific media and how to figure them out for yourself if you don't know already, and the basic foundational rules for combining different media and how to layer them in order that combination. To figure out how to do the problem-solving, I'm going to talk through one of the upcoming example pieces that I'm going to do. I'm going to show you my reference image, and I'm going to share my thoughts about which media I'll use and why to create a painting based off of that image. Here you'll see why it's helpful to have some familiarity with the media or to have evaluated and tested it already. Because by the time I get to this point in our process, I really need to have some clarity about which tools I'm going to use. To get started, what am I painting, what's the subject? I've just got a little reference image here on my iPad of a hummingbird that's sitted on a branch. Question number 2, what size will I work at and what substrate will I work on? Since this is for a demo, I'm going to try to do it on the quicker side. I'm going to stick with a little bit of a smaller size, probably something like six by six inches, seven by seven inches, and I'm going to work on paper. Specifically, I have really heavyweight hot pressed Fabriano paper, that's great for mix media. Number 3, what do I want to achieve aesthetically or artistically? As with most of my work and my usual style, I want it to be pretty close to reality. I'm not aiming for hyper realism, but I definitely want the viewer to be able to look at it and see this is a hummingbird. I'd really like to focus on bringing out some of the detail and some of the vibrancy. So that brings us to number 4, and that is what are the specific artistic problems I need to solve and what media should I use to solve them. Number 1, I already touched on this. I have a limitation with time. Since this is a class demo piece, I'm going to try to keep it under an hour, which is really short for me. Usually my pieces are minimum 3-5 hours and they're often over 10 hours. So doing a piece in under an hour is definitely going to be a challenge. Because of that, even though there are no large areas of color in this subject, it's going to be pretty small. I could technically do this whole thing fairly easily in mostly colored pencil with just a few other things added on top. But since I have that time limitation, since I had that time constraint, it's going to be much faster if I use something that builds up a nice flat area of color very quickly, like marker or watercolor in these areas. I've got this big green area, tan area, red area, brown and brown. Those are just very simplified color blocks. I think probably for this piece, I'll use alcohol marker. I'm going to use alcohol marker because this area right here, this little ruby throat at area. I want that to be really, really vibrant and luminescent and just a really clear, beautiful red and the alcohol markers that I have, have some really nice reds to them. So that will be what I used for my base layer alcohol marker. Problem number 3, is that there's a lot of detail in this piece and I want to capture a lot of that detail. Especially right here again, this throat area, the feathers feel really overlap. They feel almost like scales in a suit of armor, and I want to capture some of that texture. I think what I'm going to do to make it easier for me to do that is working on top of my sketch. I'm going to go in first with some very fine point pens. I think I'll use either micron or mangaka markers pens rather, to just outline some of those are really fine details and I'll probably put in some of the little tiny details around the eye as well and some of the darker line details in here. Having those things marked out from the beginning of the piece, will just make it easier for me to maintain a high level of detail later on and to do it in a time-efficient way. My fourth challenge is that I can see that there are some areas where I'm going to need to do light over dark or where it would be helpful to do light over dark. Number 1, a few of these little areas right here where the smaller feathers are jutting out over those dark brown feathers. Then this area right here, this is actually going to be really a lot easier to do if I do light over dark. I hope it's coming through here, but you can see there are some teeny tiny little filaments of feathers here that are lighter than what's underneath them. So I could try to do that all by adding in the dark parts with colored pencil or with watercolor, but it's going to be much easier if I start with just a flat dark area and then add some light on top. So that means I'm going to again stick with my initial decision to do the alcohol markers as the base, and I'm going to do color pencil on top to add some of that light over dark, since it's really good for doing that. I'll probably use a specific colored pencil here called the Verithin, which is made by Prismacolor and it's great for just a really fine lines. The last problem is that there are going to be some bright white highlights. So a few places in the eye, on the beak, maybe even right here a little bit, need to have a truly opaque white highlight or very light highlights. So I'll probably use something like gouache for that since gouache is really opaque and I'm able to layer it on top of everything that I just talked about, an acrylic based gouache not a water-based gouache. So I hope that gives you a good sense of what my plan is for this piece. We're going to be doing the hummingbird with the first layer alcohol marker, actually probably first layer Mangaka pen, then alcohol marker, then colored pencils, and then some opaque white medium on top. That's the overall game plan. Now for part 3 of the class project it's your turn to select your subject, and while keeping in mind what you know and have tested about different media so far, come up with a plan the same way that I did ask yourself those same four questions. What are you painting? What's the subject? What size will you work at? What substrate will you work on? What do you want to achieve aesthetically? What are the artistic problems that you need to solve? Which media would be best to solve them? Ask yourself those four questions about your piece and come up with a game plan for creating your own mix media illustration. Of course share those plans and the reference image if you're using reference image in the class project section. Coming up in the next two lessons, I'll demonstrate the actual process of this paintings so I'll create a painting of this hummingbird using the media that we have planned and talked about. Then I'll also do an additional painting, a different bird, a little red breasted robin, with a different set of media and explain those choices as well. So two different live demos coming up in the next two lessons. 7. Demo: Hummingbird: So getting started here, I'm just putting together the pens and the markers that I'll use. As I mentioned in the previous lesson, my plan is to use ink pen and alcohol marker and then colored pencil and gwash on top. Here I'm testing the thickness of my pens. Since it's not really possible to start lightly with markers, I want to make sure I have the right colors. So I'm testing them on some of the same fabriano paper that I'm using for the actual illustration. I don't have many markers since I really only use them for stuff like this for base layers. So I'm just trying to find the colors that I have that are the closest approximation to what I see in the reference photo. I'll probably end up using some combo of these ones. So getting started with my one millimeter Mangaka pen here. These are very similar to microns, I just find that they last a little bit longer and they prefer the feel of working with them. So I'm just taking my time going really slowly and carefully defined in the edge of each of these little overlapping feathers. They almost look like fish scales to me, so I'm trying to keep that in mind as they work on some of them I'm actually stippling a little bit, so that I have an even finer, more delicate indication of the edge, I don't want to get too dark or too bold with this. Here I'm adding in some definition and shadows in the eye and the beak area and I've switched to one of the boulder pens, the fine tip felt version. This is also by Mangaka and adding some shadows under the beak as well, and some of the shadows between the wing and the body. Again back to the one millimeter Mangaka, using my lightest touch to indicate where the individual feathers overlap. I'm trying just to put this where I want there to be an indication of a shadow. I'm not outlining each and every feather because again, I want this to look relatively realistic. Getting started now with the first of the Copic markers, I'm trying to keep it really soft initially, which is pretty much always my approach. It's trickier to do with markers, but I'm just using the lightest ones that I have first to get that initial light layer down and just tapping it on. Then going in with a slightly darker color on top to try to add some more definition. Then landing back over it with the same lighter color that I started with. Just gradually increasing the depth of the values and trying to add some of the feathery textures. So, I'm not going over it just in a completely solid block. Here you can see I'm starting to add some color complexity with the green and then adding in some warmth with the yellow.As you can see, the fact that my palette with markers is so limited really makes them more of a blunt instrument. But I'm not worried too much about the neon's at this point since I'll be able to add lots later with the colored pencils. If you're looking at the reference, you can see that what I'm putting down as just a base approximation of the colors. It's going to need quite a lot more development later. So I'm continuing to add in the lightest colors first in the areas where there will be some gradiation later, so that I have something to build off of. Here I'm going in right at full strength with a dark brown marker to all of those areas that I mentioned in the last lesson that might need to have light layered over dark. I'm adding in a really dark teal as well to some of the areas that are dark but have more of a greenish tone to them. Now I'm starting in on the throat area. Beginning with a really bright sunny orange as this will give me a good undertone for the warm red. I'm just going right on top of the Mangaka pens and they're staying put pretty well. Now I'm adding some other shades of red. I really want this area to look bright and shiny. I can't forget the branch, so I'm adding some layers of maker here as well. I'm really not worry too much about the detailed development anywhere at this point, since that will come later with the color pencils. So now I'm transitioning to colored pencils. I'm starting with a type of colored pencil here called the Verithin and these are made by Prismacolor. I'm using a brown one just to soften the edges of those dark lines that I made with a Mangaka pen. I'm using Verithin's because as their name suggests; they are very thin and delicate and great for detail work like this. Since they're harder than standard color pencils as well, that makes it easier to create really delicate lines and to avoid getting too dark too early. At this point, I've decided to pop-peck in real quick with a marker. I could do this with some colored pencils, but the maker is faster and believe me the possibility of adding more colored pencil on top later. I'm also bringing in some neon colored pencil at this point. This colors my secret weapon for creating lumines in reds, I'm starting pretty light initially since I don't want to overdo it. Now I'm just continuing to develop detail. I'm bouncing back and forth between using dark colored pencils on top of lighter areas and the light colored pencils on top of darker areas. For the body, there really is quite a lot of neon's and the color that I was not able to develop well with a marker. So before I even really start adding on structural detail, I'm just doing a few thin glazes with colored pencil to tweak the color and push it in the direction I want it to go. Here I want it to be a warmer green. So I'm using Prismacolor's lime peel and again, bouncing back and forth between the light over dark and the dark over light and the head area to really develop the structure in some of the shape of those feathers. Now moving on to more color tweaking on the body. This area is much cooler than I initially had it. The area on the back of the back. Now I'm just starting to add in some of the feathered details. I won't be able to get as detailed as I usually like to since I'm limited on time, but I can still give some general indication of some of the larger shapes and structure of the feathers. Even though I use the Mangaka pen to define the edges of some of the feathers on the throat and at the edge of the wing. In this area, I want the definition to be much more subtle. So I'm just using mid-tone colored pencils to define the edges and keeping away from any ink or marker. Now using a bit of light over dark to define, and then going in with even darker dark's to mark out the shadows in the underside of the wing here. Now I'm back to using their Verithin's again, using them here to keep myself from getting too dark and to be able to add some of the soft indication of where the edges of the feathers are. More tweaking and color development adding some more brightness to the throat and some highlights to the back and edges of the feathers, just using a white color pencil for those highlights. Now at this point I've hit a bit of a snag in that I've realized that I didn't get quite as vibrant as they wanted to on the back of the bird. I've already used a lot of colored pencil and since this is a hot pressed or smooth paper, there's nowhere else for the colored pencil pigment to go. So I need to use a heavier media that will stick well on top of the colored pencil. So this is a great example of a mixed media problem-solving in action here. At this point, I could use something like gwash, since it's really bright and opaque. But the easiest thing would just be to use wax pastels, since I already have the exact colors they need. These are similar to oil pastels, but they're much drier and the wax is water-soluble, should you need that. I'm just tapping it onto the edges of the feathers along the back where I want a brighter, more opaque lay-down of color. Now if I weren't using multiple media if I was really trying to just do this 100 percent of marker or 100 percent of colored pencil, I would have been stuck here. But because of having that openness to incorporating a new media even if it wasn't in my initial plan, I'm really able to push this piece the full direction that I want it to go, even in the short period of time. Last of all, I've decided to use Sharpie paint pen for the small opaque highlights. I've ended up opting for this over gwash, which was my initial plan. Because at this point I can see that my highlights will all be very small and pure white, so I don't need to mix a custom color that makes the paint pen the most efficient tool for the job. That's generally my rule when I'm choosing the tool that I'm going to use, whichever one is the most efficient that's going to get the exact job done. So this is the piece. [MUSIC] It ended up taking me closer to 90 minutes rather than 60. But that's still pretty fast for me and overall I'm really happy with how it turned out. [MUSIC] 8. Demo: Robin: Okay. I'm just getting ready to start on the second demo here. I'm going to be working on the same paper, the hot-pressed Fabriano. But this time instead of a hummingbird, I'm going to be painting a robin. This little guy right here. For this one I am pulling out some watercolor, my hydrous watercolor, the liquid watercolor, which is the media that we evaluated earlier in the class. I'm opting to use the hydrous watercolor this time instead of markers or instead of another watercolor, because with the hydrous, I'm going to be able to get a softer effect than I could have with markers. Particularly if you look at the area in the robin, the chest area, I want to be able to use some wet on wet techniques there to really indicate some of that soft, feathery feel to it. The feathers in this bird look a lot more delicate, a lot more fluffy and soft to me than the ones in the hummingbird. Watercolors seems like the best media to use for that. I've got that same palette that I showed earlier and I'm just adding some warm yellow. It's called gamboge yellow, but it's pretty similar to a cadmium. I'm adding that to my palette and then I'm testing it out again on another piece of Fabriano watercolor paper. Just like with marker, it's pretty important to test the colors that you're using against your reference to make sure that they are what you're looking for. Here I want to start with a pretty yellow under tone, even though I'm going to eventually push it towards the red orange because some of the lighter areas of the feathers do really read as yellow. I'm working on laying that down with my watercolors and getting it pretty nice and uniformly wet. Then I'm going in with a little bit of wet on wet and a more orangey color in this orange I've mixed up just by doing a warm red into my warm yellow, just a tiny bit of warm red. Then I'm just developing a little bit of structural detail, not anything too refined. I'm just trying to mark out where the darker areas and where the lighter areas are. Then I'll develop it more later with colored pencils, and then I'm using that same orangey red on the tail of the robin. I've actually added a tiny bit more red to this because it just looks more pinky to be so pushed it more in the red direction. Now I'm starting to mark out where some of the edges of the feather, the brown feather. I'm going to definitely push it towards the brown end of the spectrum, but because it does have an orangey undertone, I'm using that orange to help indicate where the little details and where the structural elements are. I've switched to a much finer brush. This is a liner brush, and I'm using that to allow me to put in some really thin detailed indication of some of the gray feathers and the edge of the wing tip. Then since I've got the brush out already, I'm going to add in some more refined feathers up on top as well. Here you can see why I am loving working with the hydrous watercolors. I'm able to just go right over the top of those little tiny details that I put down, and I don't lose any of the details. It just helps bring it all together out in this wash on top. Again, another reason why I really love hydrous watercolors. All right. Now, some more detail and structure development around the eye. I'm actually doing quite a bit more detailed development with a water color than I did with the marker. At this point I am getting ready to do that wet on wet technique that I mentioned. I've just got a fully saturated, pretty large quill brush here, and I'm just running it over the breast of the robin. Then I've mixed up kind of a warm gray and I just got a tiny, tiny bit on my brush and I'm just tapping it on the wet area to create those really beautiful feathery bleeds. Then I've taken a little bit off with a paper towel as well. That's something you'll see me do periodically with watercolor if I ever get too dark. Just really quick and try to dab some of it up with watercolor. At this point I'm feeling like I got too warm with the gray. So I've tried to mix up a cooler, more bluey gray. I'm using that to continue with the wet on wet development of the chest area. At this point I'm starting to try to indicate some more of the shape and the structure in the direction of the feathers. Now I'm doing a little bit more wet on wet or getting ready to do a little bit more wet on wet. The robin, as you can see, is sitting on a little lump of moss. I've just wet down the whole area and I'm just going to do the same thing that I did with the chest of the robin. I'm just dabbing on little tiny bits of paint and letting it feather out. Initially, I thought it was maybe going to go for that drippy look where the paint is heavier in some areas and lighter and others and dripping down to the bottom. That's what I'm trying to do here. I ended up changing my mind and deciding just to bring it right down to the edge. I'm also softening it up a little bit with a paper towel. I don't want this area to call too much attention to itself since it really isn't the main subject of the piece. All right, at this point, I have switched to a Mangaka pen. I wasn't planning on using this initially. I was thinking I was going to do the dark details with watercolor, but the watercolor has fully dried over here and it's just really the easiest way to do it for this subject. I'm using that in some of the same areas. I used the Mangaka on the robin, in the eye area and the beak. Now I am ready to move on to color pencils, a full disclosure. I did blow dry this a little bit to get it to dry faster since I'm working in that time constraint. For this piece, I am using Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. They are overall a little bit harder. I feel that they're a little bit harder than the Prismacolor's. Some people feel differently, but in my experience they're a little bit more firm than Prismacolor. So they're going to be kind of a good balance between the Verithin's and the Prismacolor soft core that I used for the robin. I'm starting off in the head area, the reddish orange area of the head. And I'm just developing some detail, I'm using a burnt sienna type color around the eye to get some of that structure down. Then bouncing back and forth between that and a few different oranges and yellows to try to really amplify some of the detail and nuance the color quite a bit. I can already tell that I have gone a little bit too dark on the tail, so I'm just going in with some white colored pencil to try to brighten that up a bit, and then I'm using that same white colored pencil on the breast of the robin to try to indicate some of the lighter areas of the feathers. Overall, there isn't as much color variety in this piece as there was in the hummingbird. So I'm really sticking in that brown, orange, yellow, cream wheel house from most of the top of the bird. The feather and the head and the neck. Really the only area where there's a significantly different color is the chest, which is more of that cool gray. At this point, I'm trying to amplify some more of the structural elements of the feathers going along the edges to really showcase where they're overlapping. Here I'm adding some shadow under the main feather going down onto the body of the bird. Then I also want to add some more shadow to the chest area since it looks quite a bit darker to me in the reference, and I want to give the sense that the orangey feathers are overlapping the gray feathers. This whole time I'm working either in little circular strokes or going in like diagonals, side-to-side strokes, really tiny ones to try to indicate the shape of a feather. All right, and now I'm adding some initial detail to the moss areas, some initial color and value development, just using a mossy green. At this point I'm feeling like the piece needs some softness, particularly in the chest of the bird. I'm actually bringing in some soft pastels. Since I've got a good amount of these workspace colored pencils laid down. I can put down a light layer of soft pastel, even though this is a smooth paper and blended a little bit with a a totally dry brush, just to add some softness. Again, I could do this with colored pencil, but I just find that it's easier to do with soft pastel. So I am choosing the best tool for the job and really taking advantage of mixed media. Since I have the soft pastels out, I decided to go ahead and use them on this little mossy area. A way that I can get it to not stand out too much is to just have it really developed very delicately, very softly and not have too much overt detail on it. I'm just going over with a few layers of different soft pastels, some mossy greens, some bright yellow, and then a cooler, almost really pale, minty green. I'm using colored pencils just in a few areas to add shadow in development. Here for the opaque white highlighter, I have brought out my Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleedproof White. I'm just using this on a flat square brush to add some really nice bright white highlights on top of the leg of the bird, and then I'm going in a little V-shapes here across the chest of the bird to indicate the edges of the feathers. Of course, I've brought back out my Sharpie paint pen again. Once again, I could have used the bleed proof white here, could've brought out are really tiny brush, but I already had one brush dirty and just keeping an eye on the clock and trying to do this as efficiently as possible. The Sharpie paint pen is going to be a really good choice once again, for adding those tiny little fine lines and the little dots in highlights around the eye and the eye itself. I find the Sharpie paint pen is a much better tool for me than any gel pens. I've tested several gel pens, but if you think you might want to use this a tool, I can't recommend the Sharpie paint pen enough. It's just way more opaque than job hands. It lasts longer, doesn't get clogged up the way that gel pens do. It's really a fabulous tool. Okay. Here's the finished piece. I ended up using watercolor, colored pencils, soft pastels, bleedproof white and Sharpie paint pen. This piece took me longer than I had planned for. I was aiming for an hour and this was almost an hour and a half once again. I guess I know that the fastest I can do a bird is in about an hour and a half, and I could have gotten a lot more detail on this if I had spent two, three, four times as long, but considering that this was a quick little robin, I'm really pleased with how it turned out. 9. Wrap Up & Class Project: It's now your turn to pull all the pieces together, take everything that you've learned in the preceding lessons and create your own mixed media painting. Following after Part 3 of the class project, which is what we tackled a couple of lessons ago, take your reference image and the plan supply list that you put together and actually execute the painting, and once you're done, please share your completed work in the class project section as well as any work in progress images. I know that I get comments all the time from folks saying how much they like seeing work in progress images. If you're posting to the class project section, please feel free to share those as well. It's so helpful and interesting to see another artist's work when it's in the middle stages and isn't fully completed. It lifts that mysterious veil a little bit. Here goes so that we can all see and learn, and by all means please do share on social media as well, you can tag me, I'm at Kendall Hill Haggis on both Twitter and Instagram. I love seeing what you create and I love to share them, either by retweeting them or putting them in my instance stories, and of course, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to let me know in the class discussion section, I'll do my best to answer them. If you see a question asked by another student that you have some other thoughts on or that you have some input on, please feel free to leave that wisdom there as well. My hope is that the class discussion can be a true discussion, a place that people can share some of their ideas and learn from one another. Especially since mixed media, as we have discussed, can be so subjective and can vary from artist to artist depending on their practice. Thank you so much for taking this class, I really appreciate you coming along with me and letting me share something that I am so excited about, so passionate about with you. I hope with practice and time that you will come to enjoy and value mixed media as a tool as much as I do., and I am so excited to see what you make with it.