What is Mixed Media?

I'm a compulsive storyteller, a life documenter and a bit of an essayist.  Someday, when I pass on, my kids will  sort through my things and find a complete history of my life and probably, their lives too.  No one will have any trouble plotting my story, because I have been documenting it since I could hold a pencil.  This desire to document my life easily lends itself to scrapbooking - and in my quest to personalize my story, I quickly transitioned to  mixed-media.

It's my story.  I get to tell it and I am driven to share it - and no one gets to tell me how I share it.   That's the cool part.  There is no wrong way to share your story.  There is no wrong way to scrapbook. And there is no wrong way to create a mixed media piece.  

detail of mixed media tag
mixed media tag

There are design things a person can do to make a piece more pleasing to everyone, Yes.  But if you are pleased with your work, then that is really what matters.  Art journal blogs, scrapbookers, and mixed-media artists everywhere will tell you the same thing - It's your story, tell it like you want to.  

Your art story can be told on all sorts of surfaces: paper, wood, canvas or anything that can hold a coat of paint.  If your surface will hold your medium, you can tell your story on it.  I've worked on paper, wood, canvas and plastic - my surface is as important to me as what I put on it. 

You should know that not all mediums act alike.  This is a biggie.  Combining oil based, water based, and pigments with or with/out binders is a little tricky.  As long as you know what each medium will do and how it reacts, you'll be  fine.  There are tons of easy ways to find out how to use your supplies - googling your questions being the number one source - the second is to just do- play with what you have, mix it up, discover what works on your own journey.  

This is a collage of the many stages of a Lady I've been working on.  I used collage techniques, gesso, acrylic paints, and water soluble oil pastels, water soluble crayons and stablio pencils   I didn't like the face on the bottom right, and kept working at it until I got to the face on the upper left.  It's still not finished, but I'm good with it here for awhile.

My local stores carry some of the things I like to use in mixed media.  Some.  Most stores have paint and canvas and papers.  But Mixed Media incorporates a huge variety of elements that my local walk-in stores seem unable to provide.  Also, some media is expensive, such as good paint or good pastels. 

 It takes time to build a good "library" of materials to use for mixed media.  I've been working on my "craft library" for about twelve years.  

It's best to use a coupon and utilize sales.  Jo-Ann's has some of the best online sales, while Blick and Utrecht offer online prices that almost always beat Amazon.com prices. 

 And this is where you find out that there are two kinds of mixed media art stores.  Dick Blick Art Materials and Utrecht Art Supplies do not carry many scrapbook/mixed media supplies, if any, and to my opinion only grudgingly.  You won't find them fully stocked with the new Prima Marketing Mixed Media lines, Tim Holtz Ideology, or Dina Wakley Paints. Stencils are fun to use in mixed media, but there is an amazing variety of them that just aren't available through the traditional resources.  

For these kinds of products I shop Joann"s, or a few little online shops where the personal attention to my order and my questions offsets the little shop prices.  

I've shopped at: 

The Kraaft Shaak - The best customer service.  You are always an individual and opening orders is like Christmas! 

Blue Moon Scrapbooking - great selection, fast service, free shipping for orders over $50

A Cherry On Top- good sales, good selection, fast service. 

Canvas Corp Brands.- Limited to their brands, but all my favorite things are there,  like Tattered Angels paints, 7 Gypsies, Canvas Corp papers, fabrics, canvases and hundreds of surfaces.  

Any guess what I've wanted for every Christmas and Birthday for the last 12 years?

If your new to telling your story through art and mixed media, don't feel like you have to own the whole rainbow before you start, you don't need to.  There is a lot you can do with just three or four colors.  But I do warn you.  Craft shopping is a little teeny bit addictive.

Have you ever wanted to dip your fingers into some Mixed Media play?  Do you play already?  Have you played with Mixed Media with your kids?  (Maybe you have but you didn't know it!)

Mixed Media is a great way to tell your story.  I would love to hear in the comments how you are using it to tell yours! 



  1. GRear post Dana! I just introduced a friend to mixed media journaling thiS weekend,many helped her pick her first $60 supplies. Gonna forward this to her!


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