Mixed Media Art for Beginners

I love painting and creating art of all kinds! Trying new techniques and different types of art forms is so freeing. My favorite thing to do is to combine the things I love about each into one piece of mixed media art.

Mixed media art involves mixing two or more artistic mediums into one piece. For example, you can add objects to your painting or combine ink drawing with watercolors. There are no rules. You can use whatever you want, however you want.

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When first trying mixed media art, start with art mediums you are used to working with, and try new techniques to bring them together. We have all done a little paper crafting! Even if it was in grade school 🙂 It’s a great place to start and easy to blend with your painting skills. Using stencils, stamps, and different finishes with waxes and oil pastels make easy additions to a paper and paint mixed media.

You can see some of my painting tutorials available in my shop and from my private painting membership below.

Today, I am going to share some tips for creating mixed media art for beginners. I made a rustic mixed media cross last Easter that combines scrapbook paper, hymns, paint, stenciling, and of course, lots of gold detail. The tutorial is a great demonstration of blending techniques and mediums in a fun and simple way. 

Christie Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

Tips for Creating Mixed Media Art for Beginners

When I create mixed media paintings, I don’t go in with a set plan. I might have an idea of what I want to create, but I make sure to have an open mind and a wide selection of materials to choose from.

I had a simple vision for my mixed media cross, but you get to see how I design and create as I go in the video tutorial below.

Collect Your Supplies

Build a collection of things that inspire you. That could be fancy papers, stencils, rocks, shells… anything! Then when it’s time to get creative, you can pull out your stash. 

I like to have all of my mixed media supplies set out and available to me when I am creating. Then it’s easier for me to let it come together as I work and enjoy the process.

gold paint and stencils Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

I collect scrapbook paper pads when they go on sale at the craft store and save all my scraps for these fun projects.

If you want to use hymns in your artwork, ask your local church if they have any old hymnals that are out of use. Another place I’d look at is thrift stores. Or, find some sheet music to print off the internet. 

scrap paper Sheet Music Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

Before beginning, I go through my scrap papers and set out coordinate patterns and colors that are inspiring me that day. I may not use much, but I like to have a wide selection to look at and grab from as I work.

Don’t forget your favorite paints, pens, brushes, and your painting surface.

Mixed Media Painting Surface

For mixed media art, I like to use canvas board panels. You can use wood, cardboard, or even your mixed media pad for practice. 

A stretch canvas is fine, but they have a lot of give to them. If you do decide to go that route, find something to put underneath as support while working.

I am asked all the time how to hang canvas board panels. I frame mine! You can use any open back frame with or without glass. Other simple solutions would be these velcro strips or attaching a pretty ribbon glued to the back. 

Plan Your Focal Point and Play with Composition

I know I said you don’t need a plan. But in my mixed media cross painting, I knew I wanted a cross as my focal point and to use a special hymn. 

So first, play around with those main elements you know you want to include and decide on a basic composition. 

Hymn Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

Then, just play with stuff, and maybe something will capture your eye.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted my background to look like. I had all these colorful papers I wanted to use. After moving them around my canvas a few times, I ultimately decided on a patchwork quilt look. It’s the perfect backdrop for layering the cross and hymn on!

Sheet Music Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

I don’t usually cover the whole background with paper. You can see in this fun Mixed Media Owl Painting tutorial, most of the background is done in paint with a few strategically placed textured layers of paper.

Fall Mixed Media Owl Trust the Process The Social Easel Online Paint Studio
Mixed Media Owl Tutorial

There is no right or wrong.

Pasting The Layers 

I use scrap paper in almost all of my mixed media paintings. I have also used tissue, napkins, pictures, and more. There are a few things you can use to adhere the paper to your work.

I like to use decoupage. The finish is smooth and consistent with choices of matte, satin or gloss. Plus, it holds everything in place well.

You can use school glue in a pinch! Just mix three parts glue to one part water for easier spreading. 

When using paper in mixed media art, you need to laminate the edges of your scrap paper between two layers of the adhesive of choice. Apply decoupage on the back of the paper, put it in its place, and then paint a thin layer over top of those edges so they don’t start to curl up.

Sheet Music Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel (1)

Use an older brush when working with decoupage. Sometimes it can be tough to clean the glue out of the bristles. An inexpensive foam brush works too. You just don’t want to ruin one of your favorite brushes. 

Use decoupage as your sealant! When your mixed media art is complete, paint over the whole thing with a thin layer for a smooth finish. 

Mixed Media Art Is All About The Layers

There are unlimited possibilities when creating mixed media art! Like acrylic painting, work from the background up. After planning and placing the background, I like to start layering with some stenciling, painting, stamps, and more papers before adding my focal pieces.

Paper, Stencil and Paint Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

You may even want to superglue small objects into your composition. I have seen some really amazing painted beach scenes with tiny seashells glued around the base in the sand. How fun!

When overlapping all your layers, keep contrast in mind. Some of my stencilings are big and bold. While others almost blend into the prints of the papers for subtle texture.

Cross and Sheet Music Mixed Media Art for Beginners The Social Easel

When I added the cross, I left crisp straight cut edges on my paper. Not only does it look more like wood, but it makes it stand out against all my torn edges in the patchwork background.

Take your time to play around with your placement. Piece by piece, it will all come together.

Be Playful and Get Messy

Mixed media is going to be messy. Your hands will get sticky and covered in paint.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and we’d play with glue on our hands at school. When you are done with your mixed media art, your hands will be so messy with glue peeling off, LOL.

Just try new and random things and see what will happen. Don’t worry about if it’s right or wrong or what others will think. Just be creative and enjoy it.

Choose a few of your favorite artistic mediums, remember these tips, and watch the video tutorial below for inspiration on how to layer them together.

This lesson is jam-packed full of artistic techniques of all different kinds. Even if you don’t plan on creating this piece, you can use any of these tips to make your own one-of-a-kind art.

Watch Christie’s Full Mixed Media Cross Video Tutorial

Don’t be afraid to get messy! 

I hope you try this out, I would love to see what you create. You can post it inside my Free Facebook Page.

Have fun with it and enjoy how it all comes together.