It All Started with a Dried Up Centipede . . .
When I first started doing mixed media art, which would have been back in around 2009 or 2010, I worked on a painting of a fairy ghost girl in a graveyard. That painting is long since gone or painted over . . . the vision I saw in my head and what I painted on my canvas were way different. (Embarrassing, even!)
But there is one thing I did on that painting that opened a weird door for me: I glued a dried up centipede my daughter brought me to the canvas. This started me on a path of finding the most interesting, coolest items I could stick on a canvas. Over the years, I have stuck shark teeth, cicada shells, moths, butterfly wings, metal and jewelry dropped in parking lots or on the streets, and even an actual (dead) black widow spider. See image below.
I think a lot about how that little centipede helped make me the artist I am today.
I also think a lot about the day in January of 2018 when I was feeling frustrated and uninspired with my paintings and stuck on the fact that they didn’t feel like “me.” On that day, I sat down and really thought about that frustrated feeling.
What would make it go away?
What would make my paintings feel like me and not just a copy of other artists’ styles?
It was then that I asked myself a really important question: What are my favorite things about art?
What do I look forward to doing the most? I had never asked myself this question before. Instantly, I answered myself, because when you’re talking about your favorite things you love, you don’t have to really search for answers. Here is what I discovered:
- Making cool backgrounds with torn papers, ink, paint, 3D objects and glitter.
- Painting portraits.
The realization hit me like a ton of bricks: well, if that’s what you love to do, why don’t you just do that? Duh.
That started my next phase of art making, where I no longer copied other artists’ styles but created my own. It’s what I’ve been doing now for two years! Over that time, I’ve found I love working with certain materials – some traditional art materials, and some not so much.
My List of 10 Favorite Mixed Media Art Supplies
Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite mixed media art supplies:
- Scrapbook Paper. I started using scrapbook paper because one, I had quit scrapbooking but still had a bunch of supplies just gathering dust, and two, I had a coworker show me a home décor DIY she had done, which was to layer scrapbook papers on a canvas as a piece of wall art. Since then, scrapbook paper has become one of my most used items.
- Old Book Pages/Old Papers. In addition to scrapbook paper, I love to use actual vintage pages and papers. Old sheet music, book pages, papers with handwriting, post cards, old office papers, letters, and cards. I even have a small stash of old sewing patterns on that thin tan paper that are great to tear up and glue down.
- Natural Items. Shells, leaves, dead insects, shark teeth, rocks/pebbles, feathers, snakeskin. Myself and my kids are pros at finding interesting things out in nature. I have a pretty good collection going by this point. I have even ordered a bag of shark teeth off the Internet to use in my series of shark paintings!
- Inks and a Spray bottle of water. I have probably 25 bottles of ink and spray ink! Because I love how unpredictable ink is. I use a dropper and drop the ink on my canvas or spray the ink over my background, then use a spray bottle of water to get the ink to dilute and move around, creating interesting patterns and color mixtures.
- Ribbon, yarn, fabric. This is also left from my scrapbook days, and I often buy ribbon and fabric from the scrapbook section of hobby stores. Also, old sewing or new sewing materials are great for this.
- Metal pieces. This is probably my largest collection. I have three drawers full of various metal items, from gears and old keys to tiny skulls and broken watch parts.
- Old jewelry. Whenever I find old costume jewelry collections, I can instantly start to see the pieces on a canvas! I also go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby’s jewelry and bead making sections and look for fun items. I prefer creepy or vintage-y looking items, but there are so many choices, you could go for many different styles.
- Super Heavy Gel Medium. I couldn’t do art without this! It’s the only thing I use to stick heavier objects to my canvas. I like that it dries clear and holds any object I’ve glued down (so far).
- Mod Podge. This is by far my preference for gluing paper. I prefer Mod Podge over other mediums or glues because I discovered as Mod Podge dries, it pulls the paper tight to the surface and helps eliminate bunching or air bubbles. It makes doing my style of art easier and less frustrating.
- Glitter. Need I say more?? I’ve discovered glitter is frustrating, messy, unpredictable, and if I don’t have glitter on some part of me every day then something’s wrong! But that doesn’t change the fact that I love glitter and think my art would be not the same without it.
Now I’d love to know: what are your favorite supplies? I am always on the lookout for fun new things to try! Leave a comment below!
Want to see how I use all these supplies? Head on over to my Mixed Media Art tutorial, where I take you step-by-step through my process.
- Mixed Media Art Tutorial From Start to Finish: Moon Girl Portrait - September 29, 2020
- Video: My Thoughts on Coronavirus as an Artist - March 19, 2020
- We All Start Somewhere: What Our Old Mixed Media Art Teaches Us - March 11, 2020