Permission to Play With Mixed Media Art

by guest blogger Michelle G Brown

Mixed Media Art is a craft where anything goes, mixing unusual mediums to create wonderful works. And there are so many artist creating wonderful things, that some times we tend to forget that these artists had to start somewhere too. Often we are too hard on ourselves, seeing a lovely picture in a magazine, using it as inspiration for our own work and then being disappointed when it doesn’t look as good. Sometimes we may even give up, thinking “I was never artistic anyway”.

I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty hard on myself and get easily overwhelmed when I see those pretty magazine pictures. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Artistic skill is like any other skill, it can be learned and developed with nurturing and practice. Let’s look at a few tips to free ourselves up and give ourselves permission to play.

Catch that internal voice

As with many things that are in our heads, we need to have a stern talking with that little voice in our heads. The one that tells us we aren’t good enough or that we are wasting time (always a problem when we are trying to do lots of things at once). You tell that voice that we have set aside this time to craft and whatever happen is okay, regardless of the outcome. Some days will be creative and productive, other days maybe spent tidying up or fueling our brains with new ideas.

Also, it is JUST art – we are not trying to create world peace or solve world hunger (however noble those causes are). And yes it is important to us and we want to create things, but if you are being stopped before you even begin, then tell that voice to sit aside for a while and see what happens.

This also takes practice but once you begin to take note of that voice and tell it to play nicely, as you would an errant toddler, then there becomes more mental space to begin your next creative endeavour.

Permission to play

Give yourself permission to play, to try things out, to experiment. Even with no end idea in mind. Depending on what type of person you are, you can simply say aloud to yourself “I give you permission to play” or you can make up a sign on the computer and hang it above your art space. There are many different ways to set your mind in this direction, so choose one that works for you and DO it!

Remember the aim here is to try things out and experiment. When you get started, don’t put too much thought into it. Use materials that you have lots of so you don’t need to worry about “ruining” your good papers (this is where cereal box cardboard comes into it’s own!). If you feel the need, jot down ideas and thoughts into your art journal under the heading of “Play Day”. Just follow along and see where it takes you.

Sometimes being spontaneous and open to new ways of doing things can be hard. Make note of when you get grumpy or hit a mental block; what is that telling you? Are you just being a stubborn toddler? Or is there a real reason why those two colours can’t go together?

Seek support

If you are still getting stuck, give yourself a break, sleep on it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. I often surprise myself when I see my art in the new day – hey, that looks good! I am doing okay! We are often our own worst critics.

Look for local groups that can be supportive. Search online for internet groups that have a regular meetings in your area. This is really important if you don’t have much support from home; “Is that all you have done?” will not inspire confidence to keep trying and experimenting, so avoid those critics as you would that little voice.


Remember our New Year’s resolution to “Make more mistakes”? – this all falls under the same mindset. Once you shake off the limits of “should” and “musts” your real artistic ability will come to the forefront. So have a stern talk with that little voice in your head, seek artistic support and give yourself permission to play!

rainbow stripe divider

Michelle Brown is a mother and an engineer, who is passionate about all aspects of mixed media art.

See more at: Mixed Media Art and What is Mixed Media Art?

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