Creative exercises for every month

March into Mixed Media

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.” - Pablo Picasso

See our Facebook group for our latest course, our exercises are also posted to our Instagram page.

Mixed media opens doors to new ideas. We have found our art has become much more exciting by playing with other materials. It can seem restrictive but actually gives you an opportunity to find something surprising. Paint will get caught in bits of the paper creating unintentional lines, roughly splattered on paint makes its own composition.

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No expensive supplies needed. Use what you have at home or buy kids craft supplies. These are experimental exercises 👉 pencils, acrylic paints, charcoal, paper, pen and glue.


Paint with texture
I used cheap cooking salt for this which is quite chunky rather than a fine salt.
🎨Use Henri Matisse’s Matisse’s Blue Nude (II) as a reference image.
🎨Mix up your colour in acrylic paint.
🎨I used a palette knife to create a quick copy of the image.
🎨Next I mixed salt into the paint to create texture and added this to my painting.
👉 Watch the video for a demonstration 🎬



Mixed media, overlapping images exercise

Choose two objects and overlap the images with a different medium for each image

👉 I chose a plant to draw with my chalk pastels.
👉 I used 2 colours and quickly sketched my first subject.
👉 I chose an upside down wine glass for my second drawing.
👉 I painted the minimal shadows and reflections to allow the image underneath to show. 


 Mixed media exercise, create tone using collage

Create tone using collage as a basis for a painting.
Working on small pieces let’s you be experimental without investing too much in each piece. Half a piece of paper is big enough.
🎨Select an image to work from. A photo or a piece of work. Something with fairly obvious shapes and colours will work best. I used a pastel still-life I had drawn earlier.
✂️Use an old book or newspaper and rip it cut some into the basic shapes you can see in your reference picture or drawing.
✂️Stick these down once you’ve played around a bit with the layout.
🎨Mix a little acrylic paint with water to create a wash. This allows the text to show through.
🎨 Apply the colour to your work.
🎨You could then add thicker paint to some parts. There are no rules! I chose to add black for lines and dark areas.
Doing more than one is a great idea— hopefully you’ll create one you like.



This exercise is more mixed technique.
👉 I found a high contrast image to use for basic shapes.
👉 I watered down some acrylic paint and used a cloth to rub over my canvas paper
👉 I used a dark acrylic paint applied with the cloth for the shadows, not worrying about accuracy
👉 I then picked two other colours to flick and drizzle over the image. I watered down the paint to make this process easier.
👉 I was so pleased with the result, the flicked on paint added details I didn't expect!


Mixed media exercise, line drawing over acrylic paint
Line drawing over acrylic painting on paper 🎨
🔅I used an picture I’d taken in the bush as inspiration for this one and painted the basic composition onto primed cardboard.
🔅I used acrylic paint watered down as I wanted my pen to show up easily over the top.
🔅For my lines I used a purple sharpie— I hear gel pens are better though. I didn’t take my pen off the paper but kept going with a continuous line.


Mixed media exercise, charcoal over printed text

Charcoal over printed text.
The text and edges of the paper add interest. The charcoal will also react differently depending on the type of paper you use.
👉 Use an old book or newspaper
👉 Tear up some pieces and arrange them into the basic shape of your subject.
✍️ Draw over the top in charcoal


Wool drawing and acrylic paint.
🤔 This exercise helps you start with some bold lines. String is restrictive which is great for taking away control and overthinking.
🎨Use an image or painting as a reference.
🎨Something with clear shapes and colours works well.
🧶 Use wool or string to create your lines. Glue these down.
🎨Once totally dry apply areas of paint.
🎨If you want to draw more attention to the lines you created you can scrape black paint across the wool at the end. A palette knife or piece of card can work well for this.




Stitching over acrylic paint. My materials were, acrylic paint, blue and yellow, green thread, thick sewing needle to puncture the canvas paper.

* Find an image to use as inspiration. I chose one of a sculpture.

* Paint roughly on your surface, I chose canvas paper. Allow it to dry.

* Tie a knot in the end of your thread and stitch onto your painting. I chose to use the stitching more as line. I only tied off the end once I'd finished all the stitching.

👉 Watch the video for a demonstration 🎬


mixed media exercise, collage on wet paint

Collage on wet paint 🎨
I put some black acrylic paint on my paper and dragged this around using some card.
📸 This image had jumped out at me from the magazine— the red really appealed. I stuck it on top of the paint.
The mascara tear was totally unintentional and I love how the it ended up looking like she was on a chair. 



mixed media exercise, using material and acrylic paint
Using material for an abstract painting
👉 I kept this one simple and used 2 colours.
👉 I dragged some acrylic paint across my page, then dragged a piece of scrap material across.
👉 I painted some yellow on-top of the material.
👉 I think this makes a good starting point for a painting.



mixed media exercise, cut-out magazine over a painting

Cut-out magazine image over a painting
👉 I found this very cool image from a 70s knitting magazine 🤣
👉 I cut out a few distinct parts of it.
👉 I then found an abstract painting I'd done a while a go and stuck the magazine page over the top.
👉 Have fun, doesn't matter which parts you cut out.



Fabric cut out. This helps you to focus on simplifying a shape and to play around with colours and patterns.
🎨I had done a simple painting of a plant in blue paint with a palette knife and used this as my inspiration. You might want to do this step first.
✂️ find a patterned fabric to cut a shape out of. Or cut one from a newspaper or magazine.
✂️ copy the shape from a painting or from life.
🎨 you might want to paint your paper first— I used watercolour paper and painted it with watered down acrylic paint.
🎨 I went with a green paint similar to the one in my fabric.


Our final exercise for mixed media. Find a painting to paint onto an object.
👉 I used this painting by Nicolas de Staël, Agrigente, as inspiration. I thought it's flat colours would work well on a round object.
👉 I painted a passata bottle with ceiling paint, let it dry, then painted over it.
👉 Use this painting or one of your own.