Archive for category Medium: Mixed Media

DVD Pastel Alchemy – a masterclass in ink over pastel || Jason Bowyer

The title and subtitle of this film, taken together, sum it up perfectly. What Jason Bowyer does with watercolour wash, ink applied with brushes and reed pens and with textures and highlights added with pastel does feel like the legendary philosopher’s stone.

Jason provides a more or less continuous and comprehensive narrative that builds up through the various sections into a discussion of the creative process itself. In this, the editing is very like Paintwork’s previous offering on Patrick George, although here there are demonstrations to run alongside the commentary.

It’s a film that’s in many ways best taken in reverse. The main meat of it is the complete demonstration, filmed over two days at Kew Bridge Steam Museum (now the London Museum of Water and Steam). Boiled down into a little under an hour, this nevertheless feels like the complete thing, covering all the processes from the initial sketch through the blocking out of the basic shapes with brush-applied ink and the gradual build-up of detail through to the finished work.

It should be said that, as the location implies, the subject is industrial. Please don’t let this put you off, though, as Jason is much more interested in working with shapes and light than he is in the details of a piece of machinery – “[painting the same thing repeatedly] gives you the freedom to play with the abstract nature of your motif.” Although that has the potential to sound as though it comes straight from Pseud’s Corner, it demonstrates the way Jason regards any subject matter. It is merely the starting point for a creative process and a journey that ends with a piece of art that is about much more than simple representation – although, it should be said, his work is not in itself abstract.

The film actually begins with a series of technical demonstrations, from stretching paper to making a reed pen, mark-making and the use of pastel with ink. Interesting as these are (and the paper-stretching section even has Zen-like qualities), they become more informative if you re-visit them after watching the set-piece, the main demonstration. What can be perhaps slightly dry now has context and relevance. You can see exactly why you need to make what look like random marks with pastel over heavily-laid ink washes and where the initially-applied blocks of watercolour fit in.

Jason has a warm and engaging delivery that encourages you to relax and listen. If you like Radio 4, you’ll feel at home here. Visually, this is not always the easiest film to get to grips with – the colours are dark and some of the marks uncompromising, but the narrative that I referred to earlier carries it all forward and makes the whole thing subtly compulsive.

Available from

Leave a comment

Abstracts: Techniques and Textures || Rolina van Vliet

Show me an abstract book and I’ll bang on about how the style is as much about a state of mind as it is about techniques. I’ll also say that the skills you need are mostly the ones you already have. Am I about to contradict myself, then?

Well, no. Paint is paint, brushes are brushes and they all do what they do. However, there is a certain shorthand that can help in the ultimate aim of abstract painting, which is to make your viewer feel the same as you do about what you saw. This means that shapes and colours become pre-eminent, but you can also use textures to emphasise them and draw the viewer into and around the image in a particular way.

The contents list includes terms like Negative Line, Textile Texture and Sketching Using Liquid Paint. Telling you this tells you the facts, but it doesn’t tell you how it all works and you really have to see it to get the idea. The book itself is arranged as a series of studies (being neither demonstrations nor deconstructions) which include several illustrations, notes and a work sequence. I’m not sure you’d necessarily want to follow one through, or that you’re meant to.

If you’re already a fan of abstraction, then this is the next logical step.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

Leave a comment

Mixed Messages – the versatility of collage || Ann Manie

Collage has always been a hard sell in the amateur art market and I’m tempted to say that this contribution isn’t going to make it any easier. That’s a bit unfair and we’ll come to why later.

The problem collage has is its primary school associations. It’s hard enough to get leisure-time artists to consider coloured pencils; and show them any sort of oil-based crayon and they similarly run screaming for the hills. There have, though, been some successes with mixed media (meaning more than just watercolour with a subtle hint of pastel) in recent years, notably the popularity of Mike Bernard’s book. All of this means that it may be possible, eventually, to show that collage is capable of excellent and striking results.

I don’t think, as I hinted before, that this is going to be the breakthrough book though, because most of the work illustrated is probably a little too avant garde for the domestic reader unless they have a predisposed interest. However, if you’re adventurous, you’ll welcome this. Ann Manie provides a good survey of what’s going on at the present time, illustrating works by many contemporary practitioners from around the world. She also examines practicalities and working methods and provides a historical introduction to the medium.

Leave a comment

Encaustic Mixed Media || Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch

I’m at a loss as to how to describe this. On the face of it, it’s a book about painting with wax, but open it at random and you’d be hard put to spot that because there are so many other techniques and media involved. The best thing I can say is that it’s a whole new craft in itself and I haven’t seen anything like it before (and I don’t think I’ve led that sheltered a life!).

Find a copy. See it for yourself. If new ideas and methods appeal to you, I think this could keep you busy for a long time to come.

Leave a comment

Mixed-Media Paintbox || ed Tonia Davenport

I think I’d place this fairly firmly in the craft category, but it’s an interesting collection of ideas from paint textures to jewellery. Everything involves paint at some stage, but this is not mixed media in the pen & wash sense. Each section is just a couple of pages, so these are not extended demonstrations, but rather ideas for projects that you can try out and develop for yourself.

If that’s your thing, then there’s a lot here and, even if you don’t want to try it all, you should get your money’s worth.

Leave a comment

Painting Vibrant Watercolors || Soon Y Warren

Subtitled “Discover the magic of light, colour and contrast”, this is a collection of handy ideas to brighten up your painting. Chapter headings include Don’t shy away from intense primaries, Contrast stirs instant interest, and Use perspective to play up your subject.

All of these things are covered in other books, but usually with just the what and the how, leaving out the why. One of the things I like about American books is that they wear their hearts on their sleeves and never leave you in doubt about the message. Each chapter includes a full demonstration illustrating the point in hand and the range of subjects is as comprehensive as you could wish.

If you’ve more or less mastered the basics of painting, but are feeling a bit stuck in a rut, this could be the book that clears the logjam and gets you moving again.

Leave a comment

Flavor for Mixed Media || Mary Beth Shaw

Once again, I’d have to put this in the craft category although, as most of the work here is two-dimensional, it does have more potential interest for the painter. There are some quite neat ideas from collage to texture and, if you’re feeling experimental, there’s plenty to get you interested.

As this isn’t really my field, I don’t feel qualified to comment further, but it’s nicely done and certainly worth a look.

Leave a comment

The Artist Unique || Carmen Torbus

This came out of a mixed box, a lot of which covers very similar areas of paint-based crafts and which, if I’m honest, starts to look a little similar after a while. If I was an enthusiastic crafter, I’d probably want them all, or at least be able to offer an opinion on which is the best. As it is, all I can really say is that, if collage and texture are your thing, have a look at all of these and pick the one/s you fancy. They’re well done and it’s really just a question of working out what floats your particular boat.

Leave a comment

Experimental Painting || Lisa L Cyr

If you’re looking for new avenues to express your creativity, this is full of ideas. Oh, goodness, that sounds like a publicity blurb, but this is actually an intriguing book.

The author presents a series of projects based on mixed media and assemblage to produce visually stunning results. Techniques include using textures and resists to modify your surface, and materials such as clay and patinas to create a different finish. It’s all quite hard to explain and you do really need to see the results to decide whether this is for you. It won’t be for everyone but, if you’re prepared to think outside the (paint) box, you could find it has plenty to offer.

Leave a comment

Abstracts – 50 Inspirational Projects || Rolina Van Vliet

This is a nice change of direction in the literature of abstract painting. When it comes to abstracts, it’s the ideas behind the work that mainly count and it’s difficult to come up with a strictly instructional approach because you’re not simply representing a subject but interpreting it and, if you don’t have something to say, there’s not really any point in even getting started.

However, there are various muscles you can develop and working from a set of ideas and exercises based on what other artists have done will help you get the idea of where you’re supposed to be going and how you might get there. Rolina has come up with a good range of approaches such as the interplay of lines, monochrome working, even painting from photographs and to music. This latter is something that’s cropped up before and is an intriguing idea – you use a favourite piece to put yourself in a specific frame of mind and then simply (well, I say, “simply”) transfer that creativity to paper.

As well as the projects, Rolina has some useful comments on where you might look for sources of inspiration and, in her conclusion, a list of do’s and don’ts that every artist should have taped to their studio wall.

Leave a comment

  • Archives

  • Categories