Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mixed Media and Me

I've been working in various art forms for years, and I have been involved in Mixed Media work for the last ten years or so. I think one of the reasons I like Mixed Media is that it can include anything and everything so if I get bored with one thing, I can change to challenge myself with other materials. Working in Mixed Media lets me explore techniques in painting, sculpting, sewing, and soldering (to name a few), as well as work in paper, fabric, canvas, wood, polymer clay, glass, whatever I can think of. Going to the hardware store, for example, and finding materials to work with in my art turns a boring shopping trip into a creative challenge. Try it some day and you'll find that a bag of nails will never look the same to you!

When I get stuck on one idea and I feel like I can't get beyond a preconceived notion, I can transfer the skills and techniques from one medium to another. One of my favorite expressions is Collage and I have explored Collage techniques with paper, fiber and metal. What makes a composition interesting? What kind of composition moves your eye so the whole piece becomes more than the sum of its parts? How can I use color, form and texture to my advantage in expressing myself and my work? I find the answers to these questions in working with the assets of a certain material as well as its limitations. I also find that answering these questions in one medium can, and does, transfer to other media. So an answer to one may be an answer to all.

An important part of my artwork is playing. I put on good music and lay out some materials and just fool around seeing what materials will do -- when used together, when heated, when covered up and then exposed -- anything that comes into my mind. I have found techniques that have worked for me countless times by this type of directed play. I also find that play lends itself to group endeavors. It can get awfully isolated working by myself all the time so I asked two friends to come over last week. We worked for two afternoons playing around with making little 3-D projects. I put out paints, glitter, rhinestones, paper, small wooden shapes, oil sticks, and pencils. Not only did we have a ball, but we made some pretty fun things. Give three artists the same materials and watch what different art we can come up with! The laughs and camaraderie in working together and watching what each other does makes it fun and inspiring. A technique one uses inspires us all in different ways.

So to end my first blog entry, I say go forth and multiply (those art supplies and ideas)! Best to all of my new friends at RRAA, Annie Onderdonk