I decided to do some work in mixed media today. I needed to work in a way that brought stress relief and mixed media work always has a therapeutic quality for me, even when what I am doing turns out to be terrible. I came up with Two Blue Birds pretty quickly, and luckily, it wasn’t terrible!
Mixed media is a medium in which I have been trying to improve my skills. If you Google “Mixed Media” you will see a variety of styles. I seem to be drawn to artists who know how to layer well like Chellestein from Journal 52 and to artists like Catherine who seem to be able to put people, words, and textures together in fun and sassy ways. I stare at their work in awe and I love it, but I can’t seem to create that way. I’ve heard other artists say, “we are drawn to what we cannot do” and I am starting to believe that is true.
When I attempt a mixed media piece I seem to do better when I keep it fairly simple. I think I just get overwhelmed by too many possibilities when I try to add several elements into a piece. Somehow it just ends up looking cluttered. A few too many layers and my eyes no longer know where to look. My work gets too busy too fast and then I don’t know what to do with it.
The other day someone commented on one of my art journal entries. She said, “I love your pages because they are simple and that makes them powerful.” Her comment really made me stop and think. First of all, I was grateful because my word for the year is “simplify” so maybe I am sticking to it! I was also caught off guard because I’ve always felt awkward about my simple and somewhat plain mixed media pieces. I’ve been disappointed in them because I wasn’t able to pull off what I thought was a “real” mixed media piece. And by “real” I mean one with lots of details and layers under gorgeous images and words placed in just the right spot. To hear someone call one of my pieces powerful gave me new courage and confidence. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was doing this whole mixed media thing the wrong way, it was just that I had a different style than the artists I admired most. Not to mention, it is always humbling to discover that someone loves something you feel insecure about. It makes you realize you should have more gratitude for what you can do and for what you are doing.
With my new found courage and confidence I started putting together Two Blue Birds. I thought maybe I would start embracing my simple approach and see where that path takes me. I can tell you for sure that I am much less frustrated by letting go of what I wish I was doing and enjoying more of what I am doing. I’m really happy with how Two Blue Birds turned out. I’m looking forward to doing another mixed media piece with my new “embracing my strengths” and having more gratitude approach!
Have you ever tried to paint or work in a style that you admired, but never really managed to pull it off? Did you feel more joy, or even relief, once you finally gave in to doing something your own way?
I want to remind you that I am on day 14 of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. If you would like to see all of the artwork other artists in the challenge have been creating please click over to Leslie Saeta’s blog and take a look. You’ll be amazed by what you see.