Mixed media painting involves artists using heterogeneous drawing techniques and “unconventional” combinations of materials. The artists violate the canons and show their imagination, convey the idea and mood of the picture, and achieve the desired visual effect. The mixed media technique is most widespread in graphics, where tools and materials are cheaper and more accessible than in painting, and artists are less limited by complex imaging technology.
The favourite recipe for experimental drawing is the combination of pencil, watercolours, gouache and ink on paper. The artist covers the pencil sketch with watercolours; after drying, he creates areas of dense material with gouache, and intensifies the contrast with ink. Pastels get along well with water-soluble paints: the artist draws with chalk on paper or cardboard, but leaves blank areas of the background. Then the draftsman moistens the work with water and fills with watercolours. The wax of pastel fragments repels water and light “transparent” areas of a clear sky, water expanses or foggy plains appear on untouched areas. Mixed media painters combine tempera, oil and acrylic paints.
The representative of the early Renaissance, Jan van Eyck, was the first to prefer oil to tempera. To create his immortal masterpieces, the Ghent Altarpiece, 1432, and The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434, the Dutchman developed a special recipe for oil paint and painted on white gypsum undercoat covered with transparent varnish. The innovative artist Stefan Lochner combined oil, tempera and gold in his religious scenes The Last Judgment 1431, St. Mary Magdalene, John the Evangelist 1450. The German avant-garde artist Otto Dix revived the tradition of painting in oils and tempera in 1932, and created a huge War triptych. An Imaginary Wooded Village with Drovers and Cattle serves as an example of a mixture of techniques (painting and drawing) and materials (canvas, paper, oil, chalk, coal).
The 19th century was the time of artistic experiments of the Pre-Raphaelites. John Roddam Spencer Stanhope used oil and tempera, gouache and watercolour, gold and gum arabic. The result is Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead? 1896, a bright work of the sweet style in mixed painting. Be sure to appreciate the works by the inventor of fantastic realism, aesthete and provocateur Ernst Fuchs, the First Day 1988 and The Apocalypse Chapel 2010.
Famous mixed media paintings:
St. Mary Magdalene, John the Evangelist 1450 by Stephen Lochner; Lais of Corinth 1526, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife and Two Older Children 1529 by Hans Holbein the Younger; An Imaginary Wooded Village with Drovers and Cattle 1772 by Thomas Gainsborough; Still Life with Flowers and Fruit miniature, A China Dish with Birds and Fruits 1791 by Pierre-Joseph Redouté; War. Triptych 1931 by Otto Dix.
Jan van Eyck, Stefan Lochner, Hans Holbein the Younger, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, Konstantin Korovin, Maxfield Parrish, Ernst Fuchs.