I’ve been doing mixed media for several years now, and I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and supplies. I think it’s important to try out different methods to help you get the look you want that is just you and no one else.
By the way, you can see all the posts in this category here.
These are some of my personal favorites. I should note, also, that when buying art supplies, see if you can get just one or two pieces (rather than a set) to try things out. This is especially important if you’re like me and not near a major art supplier. I like to order a few supplies here and there from Amazon delivered right to my door because otherwise I’d have to drive an hour and go to someplace like Michaels, which doesn’t always have these tools. I’ll link to the ones I use most on Amazon (using affiliate links) but please, do what is right for you. If you have a Dick Blick store or some other art supply store you want to frequent, feel free!
Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints
Acrylic paints are what I use most, and I’ve tried out all kinds, but for mixed media paintings I love the Golden Fluid Acrylics the best. My favorite colors are the Teal (shown), Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, and I’ve also stumbled on the Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and LOVE it. I used this color for the background in my recent “I Have Hidden Your Word In My Heart” painting.
These acrylics are light and great for going over mixed media papers or building layers. You can layer on and make the color more intense or go lightly and build up layers mixed with other mediums.
PanPastel Ultra Soft Artist Pastels
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I like using pastels in general, especially over acrylics. But the PanPastels are really great for things like faces and hair. They glide over paint nicely and add a soft texture and shading. I’m wild about the Orange Shade (shown) but I also have the Turquoise (which I used on the dog’s wings in the “Ever Faithful” picture I did) and I’m also hooked on the Red Iron Oxide Shade. You can use your fingers to apply the color and blend or a paintbrush.
Shiva Oil Paintstiks
I used to use oils all the time, and then I got a chemical burn once during clean up. So I abandoned oils until I found these beauties, which are so lovely to use they quickly became my favorite. They blend nicely and don’t have the mess of traditional oils. These dry in a day or two so they’re easy to use and incorporate into your mixed media works. I started with one color I really liked (cobalt) and kept adding because I found these so great to work with. I tend to add these at the end, as acrylics and pastels don’t work well on top of them. In my painting “Sweet Angel Doggie” I used them for the dog’s body and the iridescent color for the wings.
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks
I was leery about using inks at first because the first couple products I tried left a sticky, hard coating. But after trying a few I fell in love with these Bombay Inks, which dry nicely and work well in solid color or watered down by spray bottle. I use these to create texture and interest. In my painting “Loved Just As She Is,” for example, you can see the inks were added early on in the picture as hearts and I kept them until the end. In my picture “Carrying Prayers to Heaven” I used them to fill in the branch area and in “Love and Prayer” I used them in the background and to create the tree where the birdie sits.
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This is another product where I started with the basics. I bought a white and black Gelato stick at Michaels and quickly fell in love with how beautifully they blended and added interest to my paintings. These acid-free pigment sticks are perfect to use as a solid or watered down, and there is so much variety with these I sometimes break off a piece, mix it with water, and spray onto my canvas or over a stencil. They work especially well over multiple layers.
Who would think a pencil would be so great I’d actually recommend it? But this Stabilo pencil allows you to write on almost anything. It’s perfect for outlining an image in the steps after the background is in but before the final layers are built, or adding depth and shading, or even adding delicate eyelashes and facial features. It’s great when you blend with water or use as a solid.
For example, in my “Be Kind to One Another” picture I’ve used it heavily for outlining and lashes and in my “We Have Such a Hope” I’ve used it for the dress, face, and hair. I also started using this pencil in white. Very handy.
Pitt Pens are really essential for my art. I use them for lettering, face work, line details… you name it. I mostly use the white and black pens but then over Christmas I splurged and bought a set and I’ve been using them like crazy. If you want to give them a try, I’d start with the black brush pen and go from there.
My embossing heat gun is a must for me, especially because I’m often pinched for time and squeezing in painting in between other things. I use this to help dry acrylics or certain layers, especially before I’m about to do face work or some other detailed image. It works well for acrylics but you can’t really rush oils or some of the creamy pastels. Still, it’s a must to speed up drying time on mixed media paintings. You can find these in most craft stores.
Golden Regular Gloss Gel Medium-8 ounce
Another Golden product that I can’t live without. I use this gel medium to adhere different papers to my canvas and it dries quickly and without clumps. It also responds to the heal tool nicely, so if I want to start off a picture quickly I can put down the base layer, dry it, and get going right away. It does not leave a film and works so much better than other glues.