How to create Mixed Media Artwork Paintings

Tips and Techniques on how to create mixed media canvas artwork using cloth or fabric and oil paint and airbrush.

There is probably unlimited number of ways to create mixed media artwork. I want to share some tips on techniques on creating one specific mixed media painting type - oil and airbrush canvas artwork using fabric to create more depth and texture.

When I create figurative paintings of women I always try to make them more intimate and not as 'vulgar' (for the luck of better word). Also, using fabric for additional texture allows me to create a true 3D effect. Paintings end up having a lot of vantage points and look different virtually every angle and every lighting condition, so it can take a life time to get really familiar with it.

This is how I do it:

I take stretched canvas. I prefer 36 inches wide by 48 inches high - they are fairly inexpensive, large enough for the task and not too big to stretch when, primer oil paint or airbrush is applied.

I prime it first; any primer should work since it will only be used to create additional texture. Then I wait about a week or so, letting primer to dry out as much as possible.

The next thing is to glue fabric or cloth on top of the canvas. I use glue that will not go though the fabric and case paint to change colors later when it is applied on top of the canvas and the fabric. This is the time to decide how challenging and exciting artwork will be. The more bends and twists fabric will have the more complicated and rewarding it will be to paint over it. So, I always keep in mind that the final artwork has to look like the fabric was glued on top of the painting, and not like painting was done on top of the fabric. Again, I let it sit and dry as much as possible.

Now the exciting part - actual painting:

1. I always assume that the surface is flat, so if there are bends or bumps in the fabric I visualize what the women's figure would look like if painted directly on the canvas, and just follow those lines.

2. In the 'valleys' between the fabric bends and twists - these areas will get less light and even some shade (especially when artwork is lighted from above ). So they need to be kept that way. I do not make them lighter or the effect of fabric glued over the painting will be lost.

3. The 'hills' (or 'mountains' if a lot of texture was given) will get more light then the rest of the painting, but to create the effect of fabric glued on top of the artwork I make them even brighter.

These are the three basic techniques to create figurative mixed media painting. There are obviously a lot more needed to insure that artwork looks intimate, exquisite, real but not provocative, but it is better left to an Artist to decide how to do that.

See examples of my figurative canvas artwork using mixed media here, (4 of them are figurative women mixed media paintings created using cloth or fabric glued to the canvas that the painting was painted over) Figurative Artwork - Women

Mikhail Onanov