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  • Writer's pictureJane

So... what exactly is mixed media art?

I am a mixed media artist. But what is a mixed media artwork and why have I chosen to define myself as a mixed media fine artist?

What is mixed media art ?

The simple answer is a mixed media artwork is one that mixes (there's the big clue!) a variety of mediums in one finished piece.

detail of a mixed media and collage artwork
Detail from mixed media painting A New Beginning by Jane Wilson

For example: in this detail from one of my recent paintings you can see I've used a variety of media including:

  • collage

  • paint

  • ink (the glazing)

  • pen

  • pencil

  • pastels

A Very Brief History of Mixed Media Art

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with first using this new art form in their amazing cubist collages back in 1912 and over time as the traditional, rigid and somewhat stuffy attitude to fine art relaxed more and more artists took the opportunity to experiment with different combinations of media and material within their work.

Click below for a great article from Tate that has some great links if you want to dive deeper into the topic.

Mixed Media Art Techniques Today

Today mixed media techniques are used by many artists working in a variety of different types of art. For example:

  • Sculpture

  • Collage

  • Assemblage

  • Altered Books

  • Wet and Dry Media

I describe myself as a mixed media artist as for the last 10 years or so virtually every piece of art I have created contains a variety of media.

Come back in time with me...

Those of you who have known me and my work for a long time will remember my years as "The Map Lady" !

I have hundreds of maps, old books, folios of sheet music and a myriad of other paper ephemera. I love the smell of old paper (it's called bibliosmia btw!), the patina, texture,the information it may contain, the history and the random marks and notes made by an unknown hand. It sparks so much creativity and over the years I've painted on maps, book pages and book jackets plus used the paper to create colleges and even an assemblage or two.

From left to right you can see a various types of mixed media art

  • "Swimming Against The Tide" an endangered green turtle swimming on an antique map of the Pacific Ocean. This painting was a finalist in Portraits From The Edge sponsored by Octopus Energy

  • Take Flight - does this count as an assemblage mixed media artwork as it contains both hand cut paper butterflies and a wooden matchbox?

  • Robin on an Observer's Book of Birds - A typical example of one of my many altered books

I still undertake map commissions occasionally when there is a gap in my studio diary (I have a Resplendent Quetzal on a map of Costa Rica in the pipeline...) and I usually have one or two Observer's books on the go as they are fun to paint (and I have a lot of them in my collection!)

An artist rarely stands still for too long though and I continually strive to evolve and grow. That can be hard when you have gallery representation and well known for a particular type of mixed media art! Lockdown in 2020 was the opportunity I was looking for to pivot and change direction and oh boy I did ! I used the opportunity to combine my love of mixed media with my love of colour and my background as a surface pattern designer.

It felt like coming home, I shook off any feelings of stuckness or, dare I say it, boredom ... and I haven't looked back!

Mixed media and collage still life artwork with red and yellow flowers and a red spotty round vase Jane Wilson Artist
Red and Yellow Flowers in a Spotty Vase Mixed Media Painting by Jane Wilson Artist

My recent mixed media artworks have included a collection of colourful, bright, happy mixed media still lives like this one titled Red and Yellow Flowers in a Spotty Vase

And, since moving to Cornwall a couple of years ago many multilayered mixed media paintings inspired by coastal life and the landscape, flora and flora of the South West.

So that's my little take on mixed media art. Is it useful? What other questions would you either

  • like to be asked as an artist

  • or like to ask an artist but never had the courage to? Honestly we don't bite! and its great to think that people are interested to know more about what we do.

Let me know and I'll do my best to answer in future posts

If you want to keep up to date with me as an artist (exhibitions, new work etc) there is an email sign up page on my home page for my monthly newsletter, button below.


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