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

Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

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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

51 students are watching this class

Project Description

The class project includes 4 parts, which can be completed individually or all at once. Please feel free to share just parts 1-3 even if you haven't had a chance to complete a painting yet.


PART 1: Evaluate & Swatch a Single Medium & Post Your Findings

For part 1 of the class project, I’d like you to evaluate a medium (or two, or three!) and share your findings in the class project section. Choose a medium and ask yourself the 10 questions:

  1. What type of media is it? Which of those 4 families does it fall into?
  2. Can it easily cover a large area?
  3. Can it easily develop detail?
  4. Can it be used on my chosen substrate?
  5. What is the natural texture like? 
  6. How does it react to layering?
  7. Is it easy to blend?
  8. How vibrant are the colors?
  9. Is it easy to mix color?
  10. Is it opaque or translucent?

If you’re familiar with the medium, you may be able to answer the questions off the top of your head. But if you’re new to the medium, you may need to test it out a little bit like I did by creating swatches. Once you’re done, please post your swatches along with any notes on the media in the class projects section!

PART 2: Test & Swatch Media Combinations

For part two of the class project, we’re going to make some sample mixed media swatches. Choose a group of 2-4 different media and layer them according to what we discussed in this lesson — water/alcohol based or light first, oil/wax based and heavy second, etc.

With these test swatches, you’re looking first and foremost, to ensure that the combinations work (i.e. that they stay on the substrate). After that, you may want to evaluate aesthetic considerations — for example, whether a lighter color in one media on top of a darker color of another has bleed through. Once you’re done, share your swatches and your findings in the class project section!

PART 3: Select a Subject and Choose Your Media

For part 3 of the class project, select a subject, and while keeping in mind what you know and have tested in media combinations so far, ask yourself the following to decide which media you'll use:

  1. What are you painting? What’s the subject? 
  2. What size will you work at? What substrate will you work on?
  3. What do you want to achieve aesthetically overall? (i.e. realism) 
  4. What are the specific artistic problems you need to solve? (detail, color, etc) What media should be used to solve them?

Share your reference image (if using), your answers to the above questions and your plan for what media you'll use in which order in the class project section. 

PART 4: Bring it All Together & Create a Mixed Media Painting

Following part 3 of the class project, take your reference image and planned supply list and execute your mixed media painting. Share your completed work in the class project section, along with any learnings or takeaways. And please do share on social media, I’m @kendyllhillegas on Instagram and Twitter. I love seeing what you make!

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