painting mixed media creates awesome paintings

  • Start painting mixed media and create some awesome paintings!

When I was doing street festivals in Florida, I started doing these mixed media paintings. People would stand and stare at the paintings because they were so different from regular watercolor paintings.

  • They are a combination of watercolor and acrylic.

People would just rave about them! They would stand with their mouths open and ooh and aah over the paintings.

"What awesome paintings", they would say and they would ask, "How do you do it?" I never told.

Well since I am in my mid-70s and I am not doing festivals anymore, I figured - why not share how to do mixed media paintings?

Learn about painting mixed mediaWatercolor and acrylic mixed media painting

painting mixed media is different from regular watercolor paintings

  • You get unexpected and interesting texture that is not possible with just watercolor.
  • Pouring the paint creates unusual lively color movement.
  • The finished painting is framed without glass covering up the exciting texture and colors.

I had been doing butterfly paintings and it was getting tiresome doing all the detail. Plus, the glazing of traditional watercolors, takes a lot of time.

So to jazz it up, I decided to do some mixed media paintings of butterflies.

The butterfly is painted fairly realistic. Around the outside of the butterfly there is lot of color and the Penta flowers they love. The extra color and texture create a free and lively painting.

White Peacock butterfly detail-1White Peacock detail-1

Sometimes when you are pouring the paint, it flows into unexpected areas.

The red and blue flowed into the butterfly's wing. That is not its natural wing color. But it certainly adds interest to the painting.

White Peacock butterfly detail-2White Peacock detail-2

The acrylic texture sometimes grabs the paint colors and other times it blocks the paint and keeps it from flowing. It blocked the red from flowing into the leaf.

The added interest and variety makes awesome paintings.

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more mixed media paintings

On the way to a show I stopped to show my neighbor the paintings I was taking to the show. When I pulled "Freedom's Light" out of the travel bag, she exclaimed, "What an awesome painting!"

She could feel the heart of the painting. That's what inspires me to paint. When the viewer feels the painting, you know you did a good job.

This is a prophetic painting showing the sailboats heading out of the storm toward the light.

A mixed media painting of sailboats heading out of the storm.Sailboats heading out of the storm toward "Freedom's Light"

the exciting texture depicts the stormy weather

Freedom's Light - detail of sailboat 2Detail of sailboat 1
Freedom's Light - detail of sailboat 1Detail of sailboat 2

how to do a mixed media painting


Usually my watercolor paintings are on Ampersand's Aquabord. Aquabord has a texture similar to cold pressed watercolor paper. See why I switched to using Aquabord.

  • Use Ampersand Claybord because it has a smooth surface without texture. Claybord works well for this technique because the poured paint flows smoother than on Aquabord. Also, the smooth board creates a nice contrast to the rough texture of the acrylic.
  • Tube of acrylic paint, white or your desired colors. Alternately, you may also use gesso, but it does not give the same texture as the thick acrylic paint.
  • A palette knife to spread the acrylic.
  • Watercolor paints of your desired colors
  • Several small containers for mixing the watercolors for pouring.
  • Paper towels for clean-up and to add more texture.

the painting process

  • Do a pencil drawing on the Claybord to give you a better idea of where to apply and not to apply the acrylic texture.
  • Apply the acrylic paint on the board with a palette knife. Move it around to make texture. Leave parts of the board smooth with no acrylic.

Normally I use white acrylic, in Freedom's Light I used a combination of white on most of the painting and yellow for the light.

The watercolor moves normally on the areas without the acrylic texture. The textured areas make the paint do interesting things. That's the beauty of painting mixed media.

  • Allow the poured paint to dry completely.

In Freedom's Light (up) I used paper towels to blot the poured paint on some areas of the bottom of the painting to create additional texture.

  • Now paint your subject.

If the poured paint went over the areas of your highlights, you may use a fiber brush to remove some of the watercolor paint. The fiber brush is included the tool kit made specifically to use on Aquabord and Claybord panels.

  • Allow the painting to dry completely. Then spray it with several coats of a UV fixative spray.

The finished painting can then be framed without glass. The texture and colors display beautifully.

more examples of the painting mixed media technique

  • This awesome mixed-media technique creates texture not normally possible with watercolor.
Buckeye Butterfly by Carol May

Flowers, especially daisies are two my most favorite things. When I saw a Buckeye Butterfly on my daisy Chrysanthemums, I just knew they needed to be painted.

They cried out to be painted in a new and unusual way. Painting mixed media was the answer. It made a fresh and unusual painting with texture in the butterfly wings, the flower petals and the background.

Painting watercolor alone cannot create this amount of texture.

Freedom a fantastic painting by Carol May

Painting mixed media will give you a new freedom in your creations. The horse in this painting is running in his "Freedom" of this awesome technique.

After the horse was drawn on the painting support:

  • This painting was done on Aquabord.
  • White acrylic paint was applied.
  • Frisket was applied to some areas like the flowing, splashing water and some of the mane and tail.

The painting is done with a limited color scheme of red, orange, yellow and blue. The browns and greens were created by the paint flowing and mixing.

Learn more about painting color schemes.

A fiber brush was used to pull out some of the highlights on the rump and other muscle areas on the horse.

The freedom and joy of doing this painting was awesome! You can do it!

have fun painting mixed media!

more pages to enjoy!

  • How to Start A Painting

    Learn how to start a painting with five easy steps. Use these steps to start your own individual painting creations and to practice the how-to tutorials.

  • How to Paint a Painting

    You will amaze your friends when you learn how to paint a painting! Use the basic steps of painting a picture plus, get tips on painting watercolors and oils.

  • Begin Painting - FAQs

    Begin Painting with answers to frequently asked questions. Find answers about selecting paints, colors, supplies, drawing, what to paint and other questions.