Are You Afraid of Mixed Media?

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This article is written by Anjuli Johnson

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

Having the courage to break into a new form of art can be tough.  I remember my scrapbooking days and being fascinated with other forms of mixed media I would see around me.  My scra’pbook pages were one thing- the altered books and art journals I would see in magazines were on a whole other level.  There are so many talented people who do amazing things with canvas, books, paint, beads, paper, and an infinite number of other mediums.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

I was inspired every time I turned around, it seemed.  But the idea of actually trying to do something that didn’t involve preserving my own memories was extremely intimidating. How could I, just an ordinary woman, find a way to create such unique mixed media pieces?  I wanted to learn these awesome techniques, but I didn’t want to just copy what everyone else created. The only thing I had that made my creative work unique were the photos I used in my scrapbooking.  So, I kept my mixed media dreams in the back of my mind and stuck with what I was comfortable with.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

Of course, then came 3 years of limbo.  I moved across the country and couldn’t afford to bring any of my things with me besides the bare necessities, and it was that long before I was able to access any of my art supplies.  To say I felt the absence of a creative outlet would be an understatement.  By the time I opened those boxes and started organizing everything, I was starving for my long lost supplies, most of which I’d forgotten I had.  There are few things better than unpacking boxes of art supplies.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

The creative ideas are like a flood.  It was during this period that I finally found the courage I needed to start experimenting in unknown artistic waters, and as a result was able to develop my signature abstract collection that has been featured in several galleries around Raleigh and has led to some of my first commissioned works.  I’ve have further in the last two years than I could have dreamed possible.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

Throughout those months I realized the work I was doing was something I hadn’t seen anyone else do. My pieces were unique, not just because of my individual style, but because I was using tools and supplies in ways I hadn’t seen anyone else use. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized the infinite possibilities that are available to those who work in mixed media.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

Most artists who work with quilling strips have a very different way of using them.  Some of the things they create are amazingly intricate, but are less abstract in nature- less accidental than my pieces.  It’s been interesting to see how my quilling is similar and yet different from most quillers out there, but that is an aspect of mixed media work that I love- the fact that artists can take different techniques and mediums and use them in brand new ways that people haven’t thought of before.

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

I don’t know to what extent other artists have struggled with the false idea that anything they create will be derivative; simply a copy of another artists work.  In some ways, it almost felt like an excuse for me to not even try, despite being a legitimate fear.  I do know that all artists wrestle with fear in one form or another.  It is a daily struggle, but the more we create, the more we learn and the less fear becomes an obstacle.  What art supplies do you use in a unique way?  What pieces or collections have helped you overcome your fears?

How to overcome your Fear of Mixed Media

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Author bio: Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process ever since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, paint, pens, wire, gears, clay… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her.  To see more of Anjuli’s art and techniques, check out her website at www.thefarpavilion.com, her blog at www.thefarpavilion.blogspot.com, and like her Facebook page TheFarPavilion

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“Under Glass” Mixed Media Steampunk Canvas

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This aricle is written by Anjuli Johnson

I have become rather obsessed with cloche’s and bell jars.  I’ve started collecting them and using them to display books and things around my house.  I love the vintage, sophisticated feel they bring to any room.  Not to mention, they make me feel like part of a fairy tale (I’m thinking Disney’s Beauty and the Beast here, in case you were wondering).  So when I found that Tim Holtz had some mini bell jars in his Idea-ology collection, I couldn’t resist bringing home a package.

Under Glass- mixed media steampunk art

I grabbed a 6*6*1 ½ inch canvas, and turned it around so that I could use the center hole in the back as the display for the cloche.  I wasn’t sure exactly how this project was going to come together, so I covered everything with acrylic gesso to prepare the surface and help cover the staples and the transition from the wood to the canvas.  The rest of the process was a step by step decision of which elements to use and where.  To decorate the cloche, I knew I wanted a natural plant type of look, so I went to Michael’s to find some moss and maybe some small branches or twigs that would be made for models.  Well, I did find some moss and some small branches of grapevine- they were scattered on the ground, about to swept up and thrown away.  So I grabbed a small handful and asked if I could save them from the depths of the abyss- I didn’t even have to ask.  J  And now my mini cloche shimmers with a touch of green and a tiny swirling branch with a hint of moss hanging down.  Perfect!

I love the chipboard lamp and frame in the background that add a dollhouse type of look, especially as the background for the cloche.  Just seeing all these elements come together is giving me lots of ideas for how to use the rest of these mini cloche’s to create different types of assemblage pieces. I haven’t done much assemblage art, but I’m pretty excited to try some new techniques that could really stretch me as a mixed media artist.

Close up of mixed media steampunk art

I do plan on framing this with a floating frame to give it a more finished look.  Then it’s just a matter of deciding where to display it!

I made a video to showcase the whole process, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to leave comments and links to your own projects with Tim Holtz mini bell jars.

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Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her. For more of her projects and techniques check out her blog at www.thefarpavilion.com.

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Children Need Encouragement

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This article is written by Ann Strecko Koeman 

I believe that children need to be encouraged in what ever they want to do, as long as no harm is caused.  It is a fundamental philosophy that I hold stead fast to and share with whom ever comes my way.  Even more so when I am approached by an adult with irrational concerns about a child pursuing anything creative.  What I mean is that too often I have heard a concerned adult, sometimes a parent or relative of a child who is concerned that the child in question has declared that they want to be an artist when they grow up.  I usually respond with delight and may even say how nice that is.  Sometimes the conversation takes, what I call, a negative turn as you see the said concerned adult thinks that the child is being foolish or irresponsible.

colour wheel

Now when that child is of pre school age I like to remind the parent that there is plenty of time for the youngster to explore many interests and that it is great if they can feel supported.  If the child is of school age I still say the same thing but will ask if this is something the child is seriously thinking about, and if so what is that adult doing to support the child.  Well, sometimes that is not what that adult wants to hear from me!  In such instances that adult is looking to me to admitting defeat.  In other words, I am expected to say something like: “Oh no don’t let any child grow up to be one of those starving artsy types.”  But, I won’t, and I can’t.  Here is what I prefer to say:

So your child has declared they want to become an artist when they grow up.  Fantastic!  Have you talked with them to understand what causes them to say this?  Is this something they are serious about?  Do they have any questions?  Are they interested in developing their creative abilities in order to help them in becoming better in their chosen field?  You know, being creative has a lot of value in many fields of work and professions.

exploring museums and art galleries

Not all students of the Arts choose to work full time and gain employment  as a painter or sculptor!  Sometimes studying the Arts is adjunct to studying in other fields of interest, such as law, business, medicine, teaching, etc.  Did you also know that the majority of University and Post Graduate  graduates of Arts Programs are employed full time?  Did you also know that of that group the majority are working directly in a creative work environment?  Here I can give you links to some official studies.

My goal is to encourage everyone young and old to find their own creativity and see how it can enhance their lives.  One does not have to become a major artist represented in the finest galleries and earning massive amounts of cash to be declared successful.  Any person can declare themselves successful when they are truly happy with what they have chosen to spend their life doing.

future Rock Star or Classical Musician?

I encourage anyone to encourage young and old people to pursue their creative interests.  Support these people emotionally first, and support them by giving them gifts of supplies they need.

If you want my advice on what you should get them, let’s talk.

For the sketching and drawing enthusiast I suggest  they get very good pencils, an eraser, a good sharpener, lots of paper, a surface to work on and good lighting. And Emotional support.

For the general all around craft enthusiast: a good pair of scissors, a glue gun, (OF course if age appropriate), white glue, a variety of adhesives and ways to fasten things, lots of papers and just about anything you can find! Plus, emotional support.

For the painter, I suggest an easel, good paints, canvas boards, good brushes and a bucket. Finally, emotional support.

For any type of creative endeavor I am very happy to recommend  supplies to help encourage your future budding artist, but you have to provide the support.

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 Ann is a Mixed Media Artist Crafting Writer Home Schooling Stay at home mother and Domestic Engineer Business woman that believes that everyone has creative capacities and just needs encouragement and support to develop their abilities.

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The Importance of Using Symbols

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This article was written by Anjuli Johnson

Google defines a symbol as “a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract.” In other words, a symbol is something tangible that represents an abstract idea.  When we think of symbols, I believe the tendency is to think of them as obscure references, not widely used, but the truth is we use symbols every day.  They are all around us. Logos and banners, gestures, signs- symbols are on our money, on our cars, and even in our language.  Letters and words are themselves symbols if you stop to think about it.  Each letter of the alphabet is simply a mix of lines and curves on a page.  By themselves, letters and words don’t mean anything, but because our culture has ascribed meaning to these markings and the order they may be arranged in, they enable us to develop thoughts and ideas about the world and share those ideas with other people.

Symbols are a teaching tool, and as such are indispensable when it comes to artistic expression.  Artists can teach absolute truths indirectly by incorporating symbols into their art.  I’d like to talk about a few of the ways I have added symbolic meaning to my art, and how each of us can share our ideas of absolute truth with our audience through the intentional use of symbols.

This panel represents corruption and sin- our attempts to hide our sins, and the fact that such an endeavour is impossible.

Symbols are best for sharing ideas when they are easily recognizable.  The piece pictured is one in a series of panels, and this particular panel is using color to symbolize sin and corruption.  Black and Red together are easily recognizable as symbols of darkness and terror. (Think “The Masque of the Red Death”, by Edgar Allen Poe.) Combined with the mess of elements, the erratically stitched muslin, the splashes of paint, and the overall messiness and chaos of this piece, the ideas of corruption and attempts to hide that corruption are well represented.

I use text in this piece to represent our knowledge as individuals and as a society.

In this piece I used blocks of text from different books that are easily recognizable in western culture (The Bible, Shakespeare, Don Quixote, etc.)  By themselves, these blocks of text could symbolize an accumulation of knowledge and culture; the birthplace of our western societies and way of thinking.  However, combined with the mess of paper clay, the splashes of brown paint, and the randomness of the paper elements, the meaning changes.  Now it represents how our culture forgets and covers the past in many ways to justify the choices of the present.

The symbols of direction and guidance are important in this piece.

I generally approach my art in two different ways- I work on a piece one element at a time and allow it to develop a life of its own, or I plan things out carefully and really take my time to ensure my vision matches what I have created as closely as possible.  I’ve found that deliberately finding ways to incorporate symbolic meaning generally means I have to take my time and plan my work very carefully, but that process really stretches me as an artist.  It’s when I’m working in this way that I experiment more, I expand my thinking and my ideas, and I end with a creation that feels like more of myself.

There are so many ways to incorporate symbolic meaning into our art.  Through color, texture, text, visual signs and tokens, etc. we can share important ideas and themes.  Just as words are written down to reveal truth and knowledge to its readers, so too symbolic art can teach absolute truth to those who take the time to understand it.  This is one of the main reasons why I believe art is so important- the fact that it can help change and stretch us as artists, individuals, and societies.

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Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her.  TheFarPavilion

www.thefarpavilion.com 
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