See the work of award winning, German-born abstract artist Daniela Schweinsberg. She mixes acrylic paint with other media such as spray paint, charcoal, oil pastel and pencil to produce explosively colourful, deeply textured pieces which are sure to stand out against any backdrop.
Dawn Beckles takes inspiration from the exotic flora native to her home of Barbados. She beautifully integrates these natural elements such as leaves into her work which features heavy use of bold, block colours to produce striking images of high contrast which are at once simple and emotional.
Another artist whose mixed media paintings should not be missed is Bea Garding Schubert whose fascinating pieces seem to reveal more and more about themselves the longer you look at them. Her works cleverly incorporate text and other media to inspire feelings of hope and happiness and her distinctive colour palette adds a refreshing burst of pastel-toned joy to any room.
A mixed media painting is one which features more than one form of artistic media. It can combine different materials and methods from painting, drawing and even sculpture to create works which serve to break down the boundaries between different artistic genres. Materials that are used in mixed media art range from collage items such as magazine and newspaper clippings to photographs, fabric, soil or packaging. However, mixed media art can also be as simple as merely combining two different mediums such as acrylic paints with pastel layered on top.
Although artists of previous centuries tended to be less experimental in the materials they used to create their artworks, mixed media art is not strictly a 20th century phenomenon. Artists of the Byzantine Empire, 330 to 1453 AD, often used gilded gold leaf on their paintings, mosaics, frescoes and manuscripts and gold leaf was added to church paintings. Many artists applied it to painted wood panels to achieve vibrant skies or shining halos on religious panels.
The use of mixed media as we know it today began in around 1912 with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The two worked completely independently of one another yet produced works which were highly similar. Picasso’s ‘Still Life with Chair Caning’ is one of the most well-known mixed media pieces of all time and Picasso’s first – in this piece he pasted paper and oil cloth to canvas and combined them with painted areas. He also applied mixed media techniques to his dimensional sculpture pieces: his 1914 ‘Glass of Absinthe’ is a vertical piece featuring many disparate objects combined together and his ‘Still Life’ features scraps of wood and a piece of upholstery fringe that were glued together and painted. Leonardo da Vinci also made use of mixed media in his art by combining pastels with other forms of drawing media, while Edgar Degas experimented with combinations of pastels with charcoal and printing inks.
Nowadays, mixed media serves as an accessible art form for both professional and amateur artists alike. Assemblage and collages can be created from mixtures of acrylic and watercolour painting with other details such as rubber stampings, fibres, beads and rocks. And such pieces are finding their way not only into the fine art world but also into commercial products such as greetings cards and quilts. It seems as though the future of mixed media is limited only by the imagination of the artist and by whatever materials they are able to get their hands on.
Mixed media art is a relatively free practice whose only real ‘rule’ is that more than one material be used to execute the piece. However the genre does demonstrate a vast number of techniques used across a variety of art forms including painting, drawing, layering, collaging, texturizing, sgraffito (a form of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting colour), monoprinting, frottage (a surrealist and 'automatic' method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material). Mixed media paintings also span a range of both styles and subjects from representational to abstract; the key theme across the genre is simply that the artist thinks outside of the box and creates something original which breaks the boundaries that exist and segregate different forms of art from one another.
Lawrence Weiner who is regarded as a founder of post minimalism conceptual art is currently working in mixed media. He is well known for his inclusion of textual elements in his works, such as large installation pieces displayed in galleries and the New York Times once went as far as to describe him as a ‘language-based sculptor’.
German artist Rosemarie Trockel is another contemporary artist who works in the mixed media – she once decided to include the last minute addition of a dead moth that she found in the museum to one of her works on display during a 2013 exhibition. This act of adding an unusual medium gave the work a new layer of meaning – calling to mind a video piece that she had previously created featuring a moth.