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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Verhoven

How to Use Mixed Media to Create Beautiful and Unique Drawings

Updated: Feb 10, 2023


Welcome to my first artist blog post! 🙌

I thought it might be helpful to break down one of my mixed media drawings into a diagram since I use so many materials in my pieces.

Mixed Media drawing diagram
Anatomy of a mixed media drawing

So, why mixed media? 🤔

Simply put, no medium is perfect. There are pros and cons to everything, and there are certain results that just cannot be achieved with a single material. For example, graphite cannot reach the darkest blacks that ink, paint, or Cretacolor black pencils can. However, graphite has a delicateness in tone, and the ability to be easily removed if working subtractively (more on this later) which cannot be said for the other aforementioned materials.

What type of paper do you like?

I currently love using different shades of toned Legion Stonehenge paper. It has just enough texture and thickness for all the mediums I work in.

What is working subtractively?

I always start my drawings with a layer of graphite powder because I like working subtractively. Working subtractively is when you erase a material away to achieve the lighter areas in the drawing. For this to work, your base paper needs to be at least somewhat light. I then use white pastel and/or gouache to pump up the highlights in key areas.

Do all materials work well together?

Unfortunately, no. It takes time and practice to know what does and does not layer together. For example, charcoal cannot be used over graphite due to graphite’s oily nature. A good solution I found to this is Cretacolor Nero Deep Black pencils. Another example is that no dry media can be used over gouache unless it is severely thinned down with water, which in most cases, for me at least, defeats the purpose of using it since I want the opacity that it brings. A good base material to use for backgrounds is ink/marker as most materials can build upon it with no issue.

Overall, what all of this means is that a lot of planning goes into the drawing beforehand so that I know the proper order of the materials being used. And when in doubt- practice on a scrap piece of paper!

Materials list-

· Genuine Gold Leaf (23K, 21K, 12K)

· Graphite powder

· Graphite pencil (various leads, HB-12B)

· Cretacolor Nero Deep Black Pencils

· White Gouache

· White Pastel pencil

· White & Black PanPastel

· Higgins Black Magic Ink

· Finetec Gold Watercolors

· Legion Stonehenge paper in Pearl Grey

Let me know if you have questions in the comments below. 😊

I’m going to be making a step by step process with photos on a future drawing so check back soon!

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