If you sometimes need a break form washing paint brushes, consider pouring or dabbing a little paint directly onto your surface and smearing with a pice of folded up cardboard or a credit card. I like to randomly draw onto pages with a Sharpie pen and that cover some of my marks with paint. I often will go back over the dried paint and draw shapes and lines on top of the blotches. Then I tear up my painted pages and create abstract collages. I find old books at library tag sales and other places where tattered or old books are either tossed away or sold for under a dollar.
I'm often asked how do I decide on a palette when i am making my Mixed media collages? The answer is, I like to start with browsing through books about textiles from the 1950s or 1960s. I then begin to practice trying to get a certain color just the way I want it. Some days the color happens quite easily and other days for some reason, I struggle. Yes, I am aware that many artists actually know exactly how to mix colors. But, that is not the way I go about the process. I like to stumble onto the color I am after because along the way I end up making new versions of vintage colors which suit me just fine. Poking through older textile books, is just a starting point. Designer shown is Robert Stewart. This 1954 design is called Macrahanish.
I have a love hate relationship with using art products as the company suggests. I usually start off just doing my own thing and then months later I read the directions. This is not always a safe thing to do, so let me go on record saying...don't listen to everything I say. In the case of permanent or even waterproof ink, we are not talking about too much "danger" here. But what we does happen with ink is that people get a little nervous about how to use ink products "correctly". I urge you to simply experiment with "drawing" with the tip of the bottle, dipping a brush into the bottle, loading a pen, using homemade brushes, etc. With practice you lose your "ink anxiety".
Mixed Media artists simply cannot look at an ordinary object in the same way as the rest of the world. For example, to the average person, a pencil with an eraser is a writing or drawing tool with the graphite end taking top billing. To a Mixed media artist, the rubber tip of a pencil is so much more than a device to eliminate unwanted marks. Case in point, (no pun intended), Lynn Gall an accomplished Mixed Media artist taught me how to use the eraser end of a pencil to stamp perfect dots or circular shapes into a painted or collaged piece. You can dip the eraser in any color, but dipping the eraser into white paint really adds highlights to your work.
Artwork by Lynn Gall http://www.lynngall.com/
Like so many other artists, I seem to have my favorite palette when I am either painting or creating Mixed Media Abstract collages. A fan of the colors of the 1950s, I'm just not happy unless I have done a piece with a fair amount of turquoise, chartreuse, grey and of course some mixture which includes one of my favorites...Payne's grey along with whatever blue is hanging around on my paint table. It is really hard for me to reach for the warmer colors, but adding an accent of red, or orange or pink is so critical when you need to spice up a piece!
There are many ways to organize a Mixed Media abstract collage. One way is to repeat shapes such as circles, squares, triangles etc. The trick is to come up with different versions of circular shapes that don't scream "I am a circle". What you want to achieve is the essence of the shape which might include a sense of movement, direction, orientation etc. It takes awhile to learn how to "sink" a shape so that it does not look like it is sitting smack on top of a piece of work. You can paint over your "circle" or use only a partial "circle" or vary the sizes of your circular shapes.
Did you ever wonder how artists come up with the subject matter for their artwork? Which comes first a concept, a color scheme, a design or a story in your mind that yhou are trying to illustrate? For many Abstract Mixed Media artists, the work evolves and the "content" establishes itself later. In this piece shown, I was loosely thinking about "salad". So yes, I did indeed mix several colors of "green" paint and I did have an underlying concept going on in my brain. But for the majority of my work, the work dictates the narrative after the fact and each person who views the work, has their own intepretation of what they see.
It is not unusual for me to start off a collage in one palette and to end in a completley diffrent zone. During one of my recent sessions in my art studio, I was working in soft cream colors, only to leave the studio with an incomplete piece that ended with shades of aquamarine and dark blues. One thing is for sure, never fall in love with your first layer. And if there are papers that you really are keen on, don't use them in the early phases of your piece, because if you work like most of us, these pieces will eventually become buried with newer layers. I also have learned through the years not to be too careful when covering my support with the first layer. Just let it go....the piece will eventually emerge that wants to be found.
Most Mixed Media artists I know, never throw out anything and I'm a member of this creative group of "savers". When I am down to my smallest pieces I like to tear them into little rectangles and add a Mid-Century-ish doodle onto them with a Sharpie pen. Then when I'm in need of some "therapy" time, I create a grid-like pattern with my left over squares. I use pads of Strathmore 400 series Acrylic square paper which are just right for my smaller mixed media artwork.