ART Smart: Mixed Media Art

Let's Get Started

No one is born understanding all the different types of paintings and art that artists are creating. In this series we will be taking a look at the basics of each type of art so that you can feel confident and art smart! Wondering how I got to be ART Smart ? I apprenticed in an art shop for three years and while I was there it was my job to play with everything and teach people how each medium works.

IMG_8506Rain DancerThe Aerialist

 What is Mixed Media Art?

First I should untangle two terms that I still mix up on occasion.

Mixed Media Art is the kind of art that you create when you combine paints and pastels, or drawings with clippings of cool things or vintage items.  Whenever you are combining two or more different art mediums, you are creating mixed media art. It can be two dimensional (on canvas or paper) or three dimensional when you create it with statues, and/or found objects.

Multi-Media Art refers to film, digital and audio art forms.

mixed media art, assemblage and painting, Laura Tetrault Artist

Days 80-90 Construct I

Not Just Strange Art With Randomly Placed Doll Parts …

There is a huge spectrum of mixed media art, from art that you would barely recognize as mixed media, like my Peacock painting. Art created for dia de los muertos where families create elaborate altars honoring their family members with photos, candles, beads and other things are considered mixed media. Altered books are another avenue to explore, where artists cut out shapes and grooves and niches in books. Quelle horreur! At least to those of us who were taught that books are almost holy and should never be introduced to a pair of scissors ;). Mixed media is great for expressing ideas that are complex and personal – because anything goes. Instead of being confined within the boundaries of a single medium, the artist has access to anything and everything he or she can lay hands on.  Some mediums you might find in a mixed media piece are watercolor, pastel, oil paint, acrylic paints, collage, charcoal, conte crayons, graphite powder, pencil and colored pencil – really anything is fair game. If it can be glued, tacked, pressed, folded, stapled or painted over you will find it in someone’s art.

If you’re thinking about playing with art yourself, mixed media may be a really great place to start. By nature mixed media is experimental. It doesn’t have perfect lines, or even perfect results all the time. You don’t need to be able to draw a perfect circle or paint the Mona Lisa. It is perfectly ok, and even expected that you put random things together to see how it works.

Peacock mixed media art piece

Mediums: Watercolor, Pastel, Oil paint sticks

How Should I Care for Mixed Media Art?

Since each mixed media piece is different, I recommend following the artist’s instructions for care – but just in case you aren’t sure here are some general good practices for caring for art.

Your mixed media piece may include some mediums that don’t like to get wet, like watercolors, pastels and differnt types of glue or adhesive. If  your art is on paper I’d recommend framing it with a mat. By now you probably remember that although a mat is decorative its’ main job is to keep the glass from sticking to and damaging your art.

If your art has been created on a three dimensional form like a sculpture or found object, there is a really good chance that the artist has put a protective seal on it, so wiping it with a damp cloth should help it stay dust free. Also, sculptures, ceramics, and wooden objects aren’t usually very friendly to the more delicate mediums of watercolor and pastel so there is less chance that you will damage them.


Art Smart: Acrylic Paintings

Let's Get Started

No one is born understanding all the different types of paintings and art that artists are creating. In this series we will be taking a look at the basics of each type of art so that you can feel confident and art smart! Wondering how I got to be ART Smart ? I apprenticed in an art shop for three years and while I was there it was my job to play with everything and teach people how each medium works.


What are Acrylic Paints?

Well to answer that, let me explain quickly what paint is and we can go from there.  All paint is made up of pigment (think of this like powdered colour – so for a red paint you may have a pile of red powder) and a binder that makes it stick together.

In acrylic paints a polymer binder is mixed with the pigments. Polymers are chemicals and if you are interested in the technical explanation of what they are click here. For our purposes think of polymer as plastic.

When you apply acrylic paints to a surface they dry in a thin layer of plastic. These paints dry quickly and when they do they are water resistant, durable and permanent. And really hard to get out of clothing – after putting a bunch of holes in clothes I liked trying to get the paint out I now wear full body protection. It is impossible to “just quickly fix that spot” with out dammage. Trust me, if you ever do this wear a paint suit, your good jeans will thank you.

Second City 300 clean

How should I care for an acrylic painting?

If it is on canvas, you can hang it framed or unframed away from direct sunlight and heat sources like fireplaces. The heat can cause expansion and contraction of the painting’s surface and over time that weakens the painting’s surface. Worst case scenarios: you get cracks or the paint gets soft enough that you can dent it, scrape it off or leave finger prints in it.

If your painting is on paper, I’d definitely recommend that you frame it with a mat. Not only is a mat a nice enhancement to your painting, it also protects your painting by keeping the glass from touching the paint. Changes in humidity can cause paintings that are next to glass to stick to the glass.

Liz 90percent 003

More about Acrylic Paintings

Acrylic paints are pretty new as far as art history is concerned. They were invented in the 1950’s and have been gaining popularity since.

They can be thinned with water to replicate the look of a watercolor painting, or used directly from the tube to create paintings that look like oil paints or they can be used to create looks that no other medium can make.

Some critics suggest that acrylics are not as luminious as oils. (Then again – everyone’s a critic, what do they know?? I do happen to be biased to acrylics myself…) But to get beautiful, transparent layers you can add gloss medium to the paint from your tubes. It creates luminousity and makes your paints last longer.

As a biased acrylic painter, I’d have to say that if you are looking for a medium to play around with as a beginner that I’d recommend acrylic paints. You can get student grade acrylics for between $4-$7 per tube  (avoid the cheap stuff – it will just frustrate you and leave wierd patchy spots in your paintings). Acrylics are quick to set up and clean up with soap and water. (Yay for easy clean up – no fumes to deal with either so you can paint in your closet if that’s where inspiration strikes) And the best part for me is that if you make a mistake you can always paint over areas you don’t like.

Day 100: Trista

100 Paintings 100 Days
Day 100 Trista

Day 100 Trista

Hey! We made it! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

It took much longer than 100 days, but we are finally here at 100 and it is so nice to go out on a strong note.  Trista is a little bit of legend, a little bit Mucha inspired, and a little bit something else.

She has the heaviest, most dramatic lines, the most detail. And there is an emotion… a something else.

And this is what I want to carry forward into my work. Moving forward I want to move into emotion not just beauty. It’s tricky, because on some level, in order to paint more complex emotion I have to let myself feel it and put something real, of myself on the canvas.

Day 98: Violette

100 Paintings 100 Days
Day 98 VIolette

Day 98 VIolette

Violette, the most zipped up of the girls. She’s elegant and cool and Gatsby before Gatsby was Gatsby.

When I was in highschool I visited Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I was totally taken with it, but especially the solarium. At that moment in my life I put it into my imaginary dream home.  It was the best of a beautiful green house and sitting room. A place surrounded with greenery year round, lush and beautiful, but not overgrown and claustrophobic. The center of the room was open to the sun coming in and the sky and I imagined an easel in the center. Perfect.

Well, Violette inhabits that solarium in my mind.  I hope you enjoy her.

Day 97: Elizabeth

100 Paintings 100 Days
Mixed Media Art, Laura Tetrault, painting, 100 in 100

Day 97 Elizabeth

Back to working small – travel again!  This time I’ve made the backgrounds on the illustration board with washi tape. So much fun! After I put the tape down, I gave it an aged look with a wash of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold.

Travel forces me to work with whatever I can get my hands on. Good thing I leave a few artists markers in my purse, my travel bag, my parent’s place…. you get the picture. (Confession: I shed art supplies! 🙂 ) I also have a few watercolour pencils I keep in a travel case, along with a brush that will fit in my purse.

Elizabeth and her sisters that follow are from the turn of the century. I think about them as different decades. Elizabeth is the most Victorian of the bunch. Maybe it was inspired by the yellowed “pages” and text behind her?  What do you think?

Day 96: Lyric Sky

100 Paintings 100 Days
Mixed Media Art, Laura Tetrault artist

Day 96: Lyric Sky

Still playing with the Chroma Atelier paints. They can give some different affects, but I still don’t like the sticky feel of the paint.

I’ve gone back to some things that fascinate me – vintage sewing patterns, for example!  I love the lines and wrinkles and the direction that they can give a painting.

In this painting, the old, crinkled tissue gives this piece a modern, futuristic, almost space-y vibe. Funny how that works sometimes!

Day 95: Astral

100 Paintings 100 Days
acrylic painting, Laura Tetrault painter, Art work Title Astral

Day 95: Astral

The first thing I think of when I think of Astral is that it was hard to photograph! The pink… wow. It works in real life, but when it is photographed…. hmm. The colour can go wrong so many ways. I’m still not convinced it is the right pink.  I’m also experimenting with Chroma Atelier Interactive Acrylics – they are acrylic paints that you can reactivate after they dry, if you do it within a certain period of time.  I have a super pared down palette – red, blue, yellow and white. So I’m experimenting. So far, they are ok – but I don’t think I will switch from Golden. The Chroma paints are sticky and that’s an adjustment. And since I don’t usually have trouble with the drying time being quick (being the patient person that I am! ) I don’t see a huge advantage in changing.

But I do love the idea of the mythic woman, stepping out of the mist. Serene. A little bit Aeowyn… a little bit unreal. It is an idea that I have played with before and one that I will always play with, I think. But maybe not in so much pink. 🙂 Maybe green or blue or violet or grey. All good options. I like grey right off the top of my head.


Day 94: A Walk in the Park

100 Paintings 100 Days
Day 94: A Walk in the Park

Day 94: A Walk in the Park

So this is irony. I got hung up on this painting – A Walk in the Park.


First, while I was painting it. The second time, here on my blog. I’m sorry I’ve been silent for a few days. Between some last minute travel and celebrating my daughter’s second birthday getting here fell through the cracks.  Personally, I blame the painting!

It probably shows, and I’m ok with that. If I have learned anything from this project, it is that there is a good portion of my work that I won’t love. Some that I will do battle with. Some battles that I will loose, and some will be a draw. A few I may even win. But I learn something from each of them.

This painting was inspired by a photo I snapped by my house. There was something about the light, about the way the girls were standing. I didn’t get it here.

Day 93: Opportunity

100 Paintings 100 Days
Day 93: Opportunity

Day 93: Opportunity

Do you ever take the long way home? I do.

When I have time, I follow interesting roads. If it looks pretty, I take a chance. Today’s painting is a result of a walk like that.  I happened to pass this path on my walk and although I didn’t take it, I was captivated by it.

So when I got home, I painted it loosely on purpose. The way details are suggested but not clearly outlined indicate a possibility to explore. Where does this pathway lead?

Day 92: What the Mermaid Wore

100 Paintings 100 Days
What the Mermaid Wore

What the Mermaid Wore

The idea for this painting was sparked at my favourite beach.  Which is how this painting got it’s title. I was sitting on the beach, watching my kiddies splash around, minding my own business, when all of a sudden there was a girl, in this green, and gold and orange dress posing for pictures on the beach. I thought at first that she was the most daring bride I would ever see and then I realized that she was likely celebrating her Quinceañera.

I took the idea of the lake and the gown and the girl and ran with it. I have to say this is one of my favourites from this series. Maybe I’ll do it on a large canvas – what do you think?

Day 91: Carnival

100 Paintings 100 Days
Day 91: Carnival

Day 91: Carnival

Imagine yourself as a young child – 5-8 years old. And you have an ALL RIDES PASS and parents who are committed to let you close the place down.

When I was painting this, I was thinking about my little girls excitement, my oldest got her first taste of freedom. She rode the ride with a friend while the mommies watched. And she was sooo excited.  What do you think – did I catch the feeling?