Learn Mixed Media

Mixed Media: Work With Many Different Materials My Love of Materials...

Many years ago, when I was in art school, I stood back and scrutinized a painting I was working on. It was a human form, simplified, shaded by an eerie light. It was OK, I thought, but something was missing.

Then it came to me. The shapes I had painted need to be dimensional. And, the painting need to be perforated--by air, so I could see through it.

I set about making another painting, this one was comprised of shaped canvases that were body parts--a clavicle, a shoulder, a breast, a hip, a thigh. On the shaped canvases I painted the forms again and now they made sense to me. They had the dimensional form that I wanted. I assembled the shaped canvases within s rectangular frame, screwing them together so that they were immovable and strong. Certain areas were open and through those areas I could see the wall behind. Yes! That was it! And that was the first piece for my undergraduate degree show. More would follow, as well as plaster reliefs, sculptures and prints made from collages (collagraphs.)

A year later, in New York at Pratt Institute, my assembled works began to change. I started to glue clothing onto the human-form shaped canvases. Eventually, I started using old doors instead of shaped canvases, cutting human-form shapes in them with a sabre saw and re-assembling them. I sanded the surfaces and stripped some of the paint away wit chemicals to produce a rich and varied multi-colored patina.

Putting a variety of materials together

to make a unique piece is called assemblage, which simply means assembling a variety of materials into one piece. In assemblage there is no restriction as to the materials that can be used. Anything and everything is a candidate for assemblage, including: fabric, wood, stones, tiles, painted canvases, electrical motors, car tires, I-beams, etc.

Mixed Media 

My beginning mixed media students work two dimensionally, learning how to work with many different materials including conte crayon, acrylic paint, oil pastels, found papers, fabrics, etc. They discover that any material may be used for their artwork!

Many times boundaries are crossed or changed in the process. Mixed media demands a new way of thinking about what art is and how the creative process uses anything and everything.

For many students, especially those that have been taught traditionally that drawing and painting are the key skills to making art, a wide open, freewheeling class in mixed media excites them, and at the same time, makes them a bit uncomfortable. The new outlook takes a new perspective!

Often this way of working introduces students to assemblage, a three-dimensional way of working. Materials we have used for assemblage include fabric, wood, plexiglass, sheet metal and rope.

mixed media, multi-media, painting, drawing

"Mixed Media Study2"

Paper, acrylic paint, oil pastels, conte crayon, pencil

by Lois DeWitt

Are you ready for the FREE mixed media project? Great, just click here to begin!

Real Feedback

Dear Lois,

Thank you for sending me the link. And God bless you for offering the course free.

My family and I are Filipino (from the Philippines) expatriates herein Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Both my daughters, 11 and 14 can draw really well but I would like for them to be guided professionally in order to develop their talent. I saw your website through yahoo search. When my kids saw the lessons through the link you sent, they were delighted and excited to start. This weekend we'll try finding the supplies that you listed.

Thanks again and we pray for more success for you.

Sincerely, Aileen


Hi I live in spain, and i saw your website while I was browsing free instruction sites. thank you for giving free lessons

x janet


I think drawing with conte crayon may be a good step to get a more representative, impressionistic feel in my drawing. I have no desire to use anything other than one or two colors and am intrigued with getting the feeling from a drawing without colors.

My other drawing desire is to draw aircraft. I am a pilot and teach flying on the side. Antique and homebuilts are my subjects.

Any direction you can give me would be much appreciated. Your website is a good resource for information that I have not found elsewhere in any good amount. I'll look through it more thoroughly and give you some better feedback.

Thanks again,

Kenny G.


I took a water color class years ago. There were six of us women and we had a lot of fun, but I don't think we learned very much. The teacher just let us paint and "play with water color" and taking your lessons, Lois, I'm really feeling like I'm learning how to paint with water color! Great website, Annie B.


I didn't know much about conte crayon. I saw you classes and you sent the link, so then I started with the lessons. Conte crayon is awesome. The drawing and shading is fun and my sister is doing it too.



Thank you for sending the links. I live in Sunnyvale, California. I came upon your site when I was searching the internet for some ideas for developing lessons for a free art class I wanted to offer kids in my neighborhood.

Best regards,



I did the Intermediate Painting and two months after, I sold a painting in a local gallery. They want me to have a show in the spring, so I'm painting, painting, painting!

Thanks, for your help and comments,


collage, mixed media

Collage(burlap) by Paul Burri

Students ask what they should bring to Mixed Media Class. "Everything!" is my response. That includes found papers, magazines, oil pastels, pen and ink, pencils, acrylic paints, water color, sketch book, fabric, anything that can produce texture when glued down on cardboard (and oh yes, glue.)

Collage (cut up paintings) by Dubuffet