Mixed Media Art Hack: Alternatives to Drawing

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An Art Hack for When You Feel Uncomfortable Drawing

Question: Are there any alternatives to drawing certain items for mixed media artists?

Answer: Yes!

Confession time: I absolutely suck at drawing flowers.

It’s almost embarrassing how bad I am at it.

Especially considering I can make other things I draw or paint look almost photorealistic.

It’s just . . . flowers, man. They’re not my jam.

But what happens when a piece of art calls for flowers? Or what if I just really want to include a flower in one of my artworks?

The good news is . . . I am a mixed media artist. I have options, yo! It just means I have to be a little more creative.

Is there a certain thing you just can’t draw well to save your life? No matter how hard you try it comes out looking like an amoeba, or like your toddler drew it? You could start practicing and improve at drawing that particular thing – over time. That is definitely option one.

But what if you’re working on something right now and don’t have time for that?

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Alternatives to Drawing in Mixed Media Art

I’ve got you covered! There are some fun and non-frustrating ways to include your favorite elements without having to draw them.

Here are 5 of my favorite alternatives to drawing items for mixed media pieces:

  1. Stencils. This is a great mixed media art supply to have on hand. You may want to get pattern stencils (circles, chevron, lines, etc.) that can save you a bunch of time when you want patterns as part of your mixed media background. Or you can get stencils of specific objects, such as birds, trees, letters or yes, even flowers.
  2. Stamps. Craft stores have a really good collection of stamps and inks now. You can find stamps of words, symbols, animals, nature, and a whole host of other things. Ink pads come in every color you can think of, including metallic, silver and gold. Prices of stamps vary quite a bit, with wooden stamps being pretty expensive overall. However, I have found the clear flat stamps can be pretty reasonably priced.
  3. Photos. Taking a photo of the item in question is often a great solution. This works well for natural items, pets, specific objects, and more. Also, it lends a more personal touch to your work, since you took the photo yourself, and were able to get the lighting, angle and composition exactly as you want it.
  4. Collage. Finding scrapbook papers or elements, magazine photos or illustrations of the object you want to include is great for mixed media art. You can cut and glue down as-is, or alter the collage piece in a variety of ways, such as painting on it or transferring it using gel medium for a transparent look.
  5. Actual items or 3D pieces of that item. I have found that the actual item or found objects, jewelry or trinkets work great and give the final artwork a more dimensional feel. Dried flowers, seashells, leaves, butterflies and other insects, shark’s teeth, and even small pieces of hardware or metal make great art supplies! Just make sure you’re using something like “super heavy gel medium” to attach the items to your surface so there’s no chance of the piece coming off the artwork.

Drawing well is certainly important for doing art. But sometimes drawing isn’t the point: you’re experimenting or working around a theme or idea. Or sometimes, like me, you’re good at drawing most things but one particular item gives you trouble. In either case, being a mixed media artist gives you so many alternatives to drawing. Use your creativity and this useful drawing art hack, and you’ll be able to include what you want in your mixed media pieces without frustration!

I hope this advice helped you. Is there a particular item you struggle to draw (like me and my dang flowers?) I’d love to hear your experiences below, and if this art hack helped inspire you to include those particular items in your art without the pressure of having to draw or paint them perfectly!

Now, for those of you who want to improve your drawing skills at the same time, I found a great article from ThoughtCo that rounds up a bunch of great learn to draw resources (most of them are free): Free Online Drawing and Sketching Classes.

If you’d like more art hacks to help make your art life easier, head on over to my post on Amazing Eyes: 10 Hacks for Painting Realistic Eyes in Mixed Media Portraits

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