Mixed Media artists are always looking for new surfaces to paint on for a variety of reasons from stretching their imaginations to cutting down the cost of materials. In a recent art class I invited students to practice mark making with inspiration coming from Shaman masks using ordinary brown shopping bags as their "paper" or surface. Students could use the whole bag or cut up the bag following the seams in the bag. Black and white gesso worked really well on top of the bag as well as soft pastels. Detailed marks were then made with metallic pens, paint pens, markers, oil pastels etc. While the lesson at hand was mark making, brown bags can also be used for surfaces for collage or Acrylic paintings.
Don't feel guilty if you are a Mixed media artist who pokes through bundles targeted for charity . Even though I donate toys, clothes, linens, household items to local organizations, I also keep in mind whether a particular object can be used in my art making projects and I separate it out form the giveaways. Let's call it like it is, Mixed media artists are scavengers. In the photo shown, I saved this blue game part to use to create circular patterns in my Mixed media collages. While it looks like a stencil, it was actually part of a child's game unrelated to art. You can draw into the circles or paint over the circles leaving an impression with the paint.
As an artist I have very little patience, but I have learned over the years to work with that quirky trait. If I absolutely had to sit and render a very carefully executed vase of flowers sitting on a table, I'm betting over time and practice (and some skill building) , I could truly pull that off. But I'm thinking that I would frankly be worn out and not energized while TRYING to create a painting of flowers. In contrast to drawing or painting realistically, when I slop around in my studio experimenting with colors, products and applications in all the "wrong" ways I'm "unglued" but satisfied. I really do like the idea of accidentally falling into a project with little preconceived notions and few expectations (ha ha). I really have to get back to stop trying so hard, that's when my best work appears!
I am trying to come up with a title for an upcoming Art show. Some days it seems like every good name has been used. I have done what so many artists do when they are searching for a name that will grab attention and hopefully bring interest in their work.... they stare at their body of work hoping the paintings will begin speaking with a brilliant answer! I've talked to my abstract mixed media collages all week and so far nuttin'. My watercolors were silent too and my pastels and ink pieces are also keeping under the radar. I've considered following the advice of a favorite author and blogger, Austin Kleon who suggests that one "Steal Like an Artist". Should I refer to the big box of old Art show promotional postcard from others and recycle a name? Would I be better thinking of a name without referencing others so that I can pretend i was original? At this moment in time, I am Ferklempt! Hey that has a certain ring to it....maybe that's going to be my name for my show.
I am hooked on Sharpie pens for mark making. But every time I think that I own every single black permanent marker made, I discover yet another gem from this company. My newest art "toy" is a big fat chunky oil based black paint pen marker with permanent ink. Favorites among graffiti artists this product creates a shiny thick line which appears to cover over almost all over media. You get started by shaking the paint pen and then once you remove the cover, you are good to go and can make gorgeous black marks to your heart's content. As you can see, I have really "broken in my Sharpie paint pen.
UPCOMING SPRING CLASSES
Contemporary Mixed Media-Collage at Dick Blick Plainville CT. MAY 2016
Let Loose With Collage & Mixed Media: Leave your inner critic home and join others in the art of creating Mixed Media artwork and collages using painted papers, print making techniques, textures, mark making, dry and wet media. Emphasis on helping students “loosen up” and work more spontaneously with a variety of art materials and products. All levels of students welcomed. Day/Time: 4 sessions on Wednesdays 1:00 - 3:00, May 4,11,18, 25. Fee $120.00.
The beauty of Mixed Media collage is that you can use every thing and the kitchen sink in the process of making art. While I have my favorite products, you are welcome to bring to class what you already have and to build materials and supplies as you discover new ideas. My favorite essential materials are Canson Drawing paper ()or similar) in a gummed pad (any size works); Acrylic paint; brushes of different sizes; Sharpie Markers; Crayons; oil pastels. Other materials to collect and bring include products that can make textures such as mesh bags from onions, bubble wrap, corrugated brown packing paper that have different kinds of ridges, wallpaper that has raised texture, combs, inserts from candy boxes that have patterns and interesting surfaces etc. BTW, I also smear paint with old glossy post cards or card board that i fold to size. We will discuss adhesives in the first class. http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
Right now I am in my studio struggling with a HUGE painting I am working on. I'm out of my comfort zone and wondering just how many layers of paint this piece can take before the painting weeps in agony. (Or maybe it is just me weeping in agony). The ability to stick with a project through thick and thin (no pun intended) took me years to learn. At certain points I have actually "attacked" my painting in a frenzy of heightened frustration. After all, if you are at your wits end, why not go ahead and "ruin it" ! Interestingly enough, some great things happen after these painting storms. The splashes of paint, the drips, the bold strokes seem to add just the right touches to reawaken a piece that was previously viewed as hopeless and that we wonder if we should kiss goodbye.
When I paint papers to use in Mixed Media collage, I use many tools and gadgets to create interesting textures and surfaces for my painted papers. A fun way to work is to apply paint with a painters putty knife of a palette knife. I have a very durable painter's knife that I picked up at a tag sale which has become one of my favorite tools. It is much stronger than some of the products out today, Try experimenting with applying one color at a time to your papers or see what happens when the putty knife picks up several colors in the process. After the painted papers dry, I am ready to tear them up and use in my next abstract collage.
I still can't believe i spent over ten dollars to buy a decorating magazine because i liked one page in the magazine which showed a new color combination for me to try in one of my mixed media collages. i often jumpstart my work by being influenced by some element in either a brochure, advertisement or magazine photo I fancy. So here you see the photo on the left for the inspiration for a collage (photo on the right) of a piece I am working on.