Mixed Media Painting — Choosing Your Paints

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012

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Which paints do you need to get started with mixed media art?

Quarry Books


Get started on mixed media painting with some helpful advice from art instructor Suzi Blu. With a huge variety of mixed media paints to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start. Suzi Blu provides great descriptions of each medium used for mixed media painting that will make it much easier for you to choose. Or, you can try a little of each medium and see what's really right for you!

Acrylics. I like Golden Fluid Acrylics; they’re perfect for mixed-media layering because they contain a high density of color. You can thin them down with water and the color remains strong. The color Titan Buff acts like an eraser for light-skinned complexions. Adding it to another color lightens that color to an antique tint.

Stewart Gill makes wonderful acrylic paints that are transparent and extremely creamy. The company’s Alchemy line of interference paints is beautiful. Whirlwind is my favorite color. I use it for cheek and eye shadow color.

Gouache. This is a type of opaque watercolor. It is very opaque straight out of the tube and available in an array of beautiful colors. Opera from Holbein is the most fabulous color ever.

Water-soluble oil paints. These have vibrant depth and color, and, like oil-based paint, they take a long time to dry. Unlike traditional oil paint, they clean up with water. Use water-soluble oils over beeswax to take your painting further — rub it into grooves made into the wax for a distressed finish.

Oil paint is the only paint that can be applied over beeswax. I use water-soluble oil paints and Shiva Paintstiks (see right) for this. Acrylic paints cannot be applied over beeswax because they are made of polymer and will eventually flake off.

Watercolors. Watercolors create a nice wash straight on wood. Any brand is fine, even cheapie kids’ watercolors. For intense bright colors, use the Dr. Ph. Martin brand. They come in a bottle with an eyedropper. Use straight or water down.

Pigments with mica. LuminArte makes many different paints, but my favorite product is called Polished Pigments Pure Color. These are pure color pigments mixed with mica to create a luminous powder that, when mixed with a binder such as gum arabic, becomes a permanent paint. I use Polished Pigments for a final layer of eye color to make it pop and as a glaze for creating layers. You must add gum arabic to the paint for the paint to be permanent. If you apply mica powders with water or other mediums, the powder will blow off once it’s dry. A little bit of gum arabic goes a long way. Mix up just what you will use on your palette.

Fabric paints. Jacquard’s Lumiere paints are the best for painting girls on fabric, because they are specifically made for fabric and, unlike other fabric paints, remain flexible when dry. Nothing feels worse than a rough painted shirt next to your body! Jacquard’s Neopaque is excellent for covering jeans. Get Jacquard’s medium to go with it, to make it blend easily. Jacquard also has fabric marker pens in flesh tones. Making girls on fabric is where mixed media is going next.

This mixed media guide to painting is excerpted with permission from the book "Mixed Media Girls" by Suzi Blu (Quarry Books).

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