Thinking Ahead of Mix Media
Thinking Ahead of Mix Media
Mix media is the current creative rage for artists, and a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Mix media is not new. For centuries, artists have experimented with a variety of mediums to express their creativity. It might start with a pencil sketch. Ink is added for expression and then perhaps an ink wash is added to create value. You need some highlights and now you have a choice of a white color pencil, a permanent white marker, or perhaps white gouache. It's looking good and you spray it with a workable fixative to preserve what you have created, but your creative juices continue to flow and you start thinking about adding color. Of course, now you have a lot of choices. Unfortunately, there is a problem, the paper is buckling. Here is the dilemma, it started as a pencil drawing. What surface did the artist choose?
“Fall Leaves”, Ed S. Brickler, color pencil, watercolor, metallic watercolor, acrylic marker and absorbent watercolor ground
Here are several facts of creative life to consider:
1) Paper wrinkles or buckles when wet. It doesn't matter whether it is called watercolor, mix media, or even art/illustration board, because it is made with natural fibers, it will wrinkle or buckle if it becomes wet.
2) Paper also has limitations based on characteristics such as sizing, texture and paper weight.
With that said, it's necessary to choose the right surface before you start that mix media project, or, have an alternative plan. For example, the drawing paper you started with could be mounted onto a piece or art board or illustration board. While the board might warp, it is easier to flatten the board than it is to flatten a piece of paper with your artwork on it. See below for instructions on how to properly mount paper to an art or illustration board and also how to flatten a warped art board.
“Meditation”, Ed S. Brickler, watercolor, white acrylic marker, color pencil and collage with Japanese paper
Mix Media is an ambiguous term. What is Mix Media? A general definition is art work created with two or three different mediums. Which mediums? You can see the dilemma. Therefore, when paper or surface is called Mix Media, we cannot take for granted that it may or may not be suitable. Instead, surface choice should be predicated upon the mediums we choose to define our mix media and not the name given to the paper. For example, if a water-based medium or collage is your primary medium, you need to choose a heavy weight paper, or, a better choice would be an art or illustration board. On the other hand, light weight mix media papers are reserved for dry mediums and light watercolor and/or ink washes.
“Just Wing It”, Ed S. Brickler, watercolor, ink, and collage with Japanese paper and a napkin
When mounting paper to an illustration or art board remember that both surfaces are absorbent and will compete for the adhesive. While you could use a spray adhesive, I find them too messy and I ‘d rather not breath in all that glue. My recommended glue of choice is Acrylic Matte Gel Medium. One, it has less water and it also dries slower. First, apply a coat of Acrylic Matte Gel Medium to the art or illustration board and let it dry. This will render that surface non-absorbent. Next apply another coat of Acrylic Matte Gel Medium and place the paper on top of the wet medium. Starting at one of the corners, use a clean rubber brayer to flatten the paper onto the board.
Flattening a Warped Art Board
After mounting the paper to the art board, it will warp. The simple solution to flatten is to mix some water with the leftover Acrylic Matte Gel Medium and paint an “X” diagonally from corner to corner as shown below. As the medium and water dry the art board will flatten.