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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 2020 > Mixed media best practice

Mixed media best practice

In the first of a new occasional series offering essential guidelines for artists, Robert Dutton suggests ten ways to approach mixed-media work to ensure best results

Autumn Morning above Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, mixed media on Canson Moulin du Roy Not watercolour paper 300lb (640gsm), 22330in (56376cm). Having made a very useful observational drawing of the scene with colour notes and taken several photographs I completed this semi-abstract mixed-media painting using Royal Talens acrylic spray paints, watercolour, gouache, acrylic inks and soft pastel. I masked areas, one over the other and used spray paints to create contrasting areas of colour and edges over the base layers of wet-in-wet ink, watercolour and gouache layers. The thick watercolour paper was essential with so much diluted paint

When combining several different media in a painting there is the complex issue of what works best with what, and in what order, to avoid ‘mixed mess’ rather than mixed media! Hopefully the following guidelines will help you to achieve successful outcomes.

Conquer your fears

Fear of making mistakes is the biggest drawback for any artist but playing safe is really not what mixed-media painting is about. You have to be willing to let go and allow ideas to flow. Allow media to interact and watch what happens without fiddling with the paint; this creates exciting areas of texture, patterns and blends on which you can develop your mixed-media painting. This is especially true of watercolour, where beautiful marbling or granulation effects take place.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first 2020 issue of The Artist. With a new year of drawing and painting to look forward to Paul Talbot-Greaves suggests 12 ways to help improve your watercolour skills throughout the year. Our four-page diary with the details and entry deadlines for all the main open competitions to enter will help you plan your year, while Bob Brandt's advice will help you maximise your chances of success. Watercolourists will enjoy Ian Sidaway's feature on painting the Rockies, Jake Winkle's focus on why good design is essential for an attention-grabbing composition, Julie Collins' colour-mixing ideas for winter trees and Jenny Wheatley's guide to choosing the best watercolour paper for your style of painting. Follow Robert Dutton and Soraya French and used mixed-media techniques to paint landscapes and flowers, plus Robert Brindley demonstrates how to capture light on water in pastel. With demonstrations in gouache, oils - including how to paint noses - charcoal and pastels, there's something for everyone, whatever your preferred medium. Why not make 2020 the year to try a new one with inspiration and guidance from The Artist?! Enjoy!