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How Abstract Artists Use Mixed Media

  • 3 min read

It’s amazing how artists use their imagination and resources to access a myriad of materials, mediums and tools to create their art. It has been an honor to have worked with thousands of artists throughout my career in every conceivable style and medium. For this article “How Abstract Artists Use Mixed Media” I chose three abstract artists who asked me to write about their art. They came to my attention through my writing and coaching services. Each artist, in her own unique way, displays extraordinary talent in mixing her mediums. Enjoy viewing the artists’ art and reading about it. Please also visit their websites.

What is Mixed Media Art and Its Origin?

Mixed media art is any form of art that combines two or more mediums in one work. Assemblages and collages are two common examples of art using different media that will make use of different materials including cloth, paper, wood and found objects.

Use of the term began circa 1912 with Cubist collages. The first modern artwork to be considered mixed media is Pablo Picasso’s 1912 collage “Still Life with Chair Caning”, shown above. He used paper, cloth, paint and rope to create a pseudo-3D effect. Picasso wasn’t among the first to create mixed media art. Although they weren’t called mixed media artists, artists of the Byzantine Empire, 330 to 1453 AD, often used gilded gold leaf on their paintings, mosaics, frescoes and manuscripts. Many artists applied gold leaf to painted wood panels to achieve vibrant skies or shining halos on religious panels.

3 Contemporary Abstract Artists Using Mixed Media

Patricia Langevin

Patricia Langevin creates art that is characterized by layers of depth and resonance, colorful lyricism, and a plethora of tactile surfaces. Most admirable is her versatile creative approach in using mixed media and her techniques in brushwork and mark-making. She deftly combines the spontaneous dynamics of acrylic paint with Stabilo woody pencils, Caran D’ache Neocolor pastels, graphite sticks, and chalk blocks. Her skillful use of brushes, palette knives and other tools further expands her visual language.

Shown above is Patricia’s “Pirouette”, acrylic and mixed media, 36″ x 30″. It was selected for “The Healing Power of ART In Honor of Nature” juried exhibition.

Patricia explains, “I begin each painting with spontaneous drawings and no preconceived plan, using graphite or wax crayon. I continue by adding translucent layers and scraping through the paint to reveal layers underneath, then by adding marks with various tools. As layers build and a composition starts to emerge, brush strokes become more intentional until I feel the painting has achieved a balance between spontaneity and control.”


Julia Crosera

Julia Crosera states, “A sense of curiosity drives my painting practice and I frequently discover new ways of interacting with paint. I keep the process fresh by bringing other media into the mix, such as oil pastel, graphite, or cold wax. Rarely content with paintbrushes alone, I use palette knives, scrapers, cooking utensils, and anything else I can get my hands on at the time.”

Shown above, “Reflection”, is a 12″ x 12″ painting in which she used oil and acrylic paint and cold wax medium on wood panel. It is from her “Resurfacing” series which she describes as “Excavating the colors and textures of time.”

I have observed how she provides a wellspring of visual references that evoke the passage of time and transformation. Her deft and complex stylistic approach to image-making suggests similarities to the continuously evolving forces inherent in nature. We are reminded of the effects caused by pressure, climate change, geological shifts, and other natural processes. Her paintings serve to inspire discovery, and reflection and provide endless possibilities for interpretation.


Debrah Block Krol

Debrah Block Krol is highly adept in capturing an array of moods and emotions through multi-faceted and atmospheric works of art. Her fluent use of color evokes an immediate visceral response and her dynamic ability to infuse continuous motion propels the viewer through space. Intuitively, the artist arouses our awareness about the world we live in and our responses to it.

In the true spirit of abstract expressionism, Debrah applies layers of paint with unbridled passion and innovation. She uses both brushes and palette knives to achieve a myriad of engaging tactile surfaces. The versatile artist is also proficient in combining different mediums such as watercolor, pastel, acrylic, metallic paint, and mica flakes on Arches paper. Her sophisticated process includes underpainting, scraping, scumbling, and blotting.

Emotions play an important role in Debrah’s creative direction and she often expresses her response to world events with intense perception. This is most noticeable in her compelling painting “Blood on the Capitol”, as you see above.

In several paintings she creates idyllic worlds with a sense of poetic realism. In these works of art sky and water coalesce in contrast and harmony and emanate feelings of tranquility, hope, and renewal.

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