Mixed Media Techniques with Watercolour
What is mixed media art? Mixed media refers to works of art that combine more than one medium or material. Pablo Picasso is one of history’s most famous mixed media artists who used a combination of wet and dry mediums and newspaper, sand, and even cigarettes.
When it comes to mixed media art, the combinations are near endless, and, in theory, you can combine watercolour with any other medium (with varying results). This blog will go over five different mixed media techniques that best compliment watercolour painting: waterproof ink, oil pastel, gouache, colour pencil, and powder dyes.
1. Waterproof Ink
Waterproof ink is commonly used with watercolour paint, whether applied with a marker, pen, or brush. Artists often use waterproof ink to create line art and crosshatching or stippling (a method used to create shading and depth). Once the ink has dried, watercolour paint can be used to colour in the artwork.
It’s essential to make sure the ink has dried first before applying the paint to avoid causing the ink to bleed. Because ink is permanent, it can be an unforgiving medium.
However, if you create your drawing first with a pencil, you can trace over your pencil drawing to avoid making mistakes and erase any leftover pencil marks once the ink has dried.
We used a detail ink pen to create the dark outlines in the miniature doodle above. Once the ink dried, we used Etchr Lab watercolours to colour inside the lines. Interested in trying this technique yourself? You can get everything you need in Etchr Lab’s Watercolour Starter Kit.
2. Oil Pastel
If you do a lot of cooking or baking, you may have noticed that you can’t simply mix oil and water; they separate. This is because oil is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water.
We can use oil pastel in our artworks to repel watercolour paint. If you apply oil pastel to your paper before adding watercolour, you will see that the watercolour paint will not cover up the areas with pastel.
Doing this is especially fun with white pastel because you can create secret messages or images and reveal them once you apply paint.
Gouache often called “opaque watercolour”, has very similar properties to watercolour paint, so it’s not surprising that they are often used hand-in-hand. You can water down gouache and use it almost like watercolour paint, although its intended purpose is to be used as an opaque medium.
In the example below, gouache has been used on a watercolour painting to create outlines and highlights. If you use a similar technique, it’s important to note that the watercolour was applied and dried before adding the gouache.
Remember: Gouache is like watercolour and is reactivated by water, so adding wet paint on top of gouache will cause it to bleed and smudge.
4. Colour Pencils
Colour pencil is also commonly used with many mediums, including watercolour paint. Colour pencils are used for line art, but they can also be used for shading sections of the watercolour once it dries.
What also makes colour pencil a great pairing with watercolour, especially if you’re using cold press paper, is the added texture. Because cold press paper has slight bumps and dimples, applying pencil creates a rough texture.
In the example below, colour pencil has been used to add shading and texture to a dried watercolour painting.
5. Powder Dye
If you have ever tried dyeing your fabrics at home, you may have some experience with powder dyes. When using powder dyes for dyeing fabrics, you typically add them to boiling water to create a dye bath.
However, you can apply these same dyes to watercolour paintings to get some exciting outcomes. When your painting is still wet (it works best with a lot of wet paint), sprinkle on dye powder. The powder that lands on the wet paint will bleed into the paint and create little splotches.
Don’t have powder dye? Try scraping some pigment off of a watercolour pencil instead to get a similar result. You may also have some natural dyes in your kitchen cupboards, such as turmeric.
We used some powder dye from a standard tie-dye kit in the example below.
We hope this blog has inspired you to do some creative experimentation with your next art project, and we would love to see the results! Please follow us on Instagram @etchr_lab and tag us to show us your artwork.
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