Mastering the Basics and Embracing Creative Experimentation: How Combining Different Media is Transforming My Artistic Journey

I increasingly believe that understanding one's roots is crucial before embarking on any journey of discovery, particularly a creative one. This idea presents a paradox: How can one truly know oneself without first experimenting and discovering what one dislikes and is not? Few of us are fortunate enough to have a crystal-clear vision of our purpose or path before learning what doesn't belong on that list. For artists and media innovators, knowing your origins provides a solid foundation from which you can branch out and explore new territories.

I find this concept to be relevant in the realm of mixed media art, where the fusion of different artistic mediums results in rich and innovative creative expressions. Since I began regularly writing these blog posts, I've been contemplating topics that resonate with the vision, mission, and values of the Fineliner Diaries brand. In this post, we’ll explore the significance of "knowing your roots before branching out" and how this philosophy can guide your creative journey.

Recently, I encountered some conservative creatives resistant to the idea of digital media. They were unwilling to consider its potential benefits and the ways it can simplify a creative's life. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s worth examining both sides. Let's explore the process of blending media, address the critiques often posed by "art puritans," and share practical tips for staying true to your creative vision. I will argue my conviction that embracing your origins and experimenting with mixed media can lead to profound artistic innovation.

Grasping Your Foundation: The Cornerstone of Creative Expression

Before you can confidently mix media to create unique pieces of art, it's essential to have a deep understanding of the artistic traditions and techniques that form your foundation. Knowing your roots means appreciating the history, culture, and personal experiences that shape your artistic perspective. This understanding lends authenticity and depth to your work, allowing you to innovate from a place of knowledge and respect.

My background is technical, and while I have always enjoyed free-hand sketching, my extensive experience with technical drawing during university has undeniably shaped my style. When I resumed creating art regularly after a long hiatus, I naturally gravitated towards using technical pencils and fineliners. I found comfort in employing geometric shapes to organize and conquer the blank piece of paper before me.

While the foundational elements continue to anchor my designs and artwork, I have developed techniques to soften rigid contours and strict compositions. By incorporating fluid resin, organic textures with structured paste, and digitally enhanced collages, I have achieved a more harmonious and dynamic expression.

This fusion of traditional and contemporary styles creates a rich tapestry that marries tradition with modernity, adding layers of meaning and context to each piece.

Embracing the Journey of Mixing Media

The journey of mixing media is one of exploration and discovery. It involves stepping out of your comfort zone and experimenting with different artistic tools and techniques. For me, this journey has been a necessity, driven by an insatiable desire to find the perfect way to express myself creatively.

Mixing media allows artists to push boundaries and challenge conventional norms. It's a process that invites curiosity and encourages a spirit of playfulness. Whether combining photography with painting, integrating digital art with traditional sculpture, or experimenting with unconventional materials, the possibilities are limitless.

This journey isn't always easy. It often involves trial and error, moments of frustration, and a lot of perseverance. However, it's also incredibly rewarding. Each experiment brings you closer to discovering new forms of self-expression and unlocking your full creative potential.

Facing Criticism from "Art Puritans"

As you venture into mixed media art, you may encounter criticism from "art puritans" who believe in adhering strictly to traditional methods and techniques. These critics often view experimentation and innovation as a departure from the purity of art.

It's crucial to remember that art has always been in a state of evolution. Throughout history, many renowned artists have encountered criticism for deviating from traditional norms. Nevertheless, these trailblazers have often paved the way for new movements and styles, enriching the art world with their innovative approaches.

Experimentation and innovation are not merely valuable; they are indispensable for the growth and evolution of art.

By questioning the status quo and exploring uncharted possibilities, artists enrich the ever-evolving landscape of creative expression.

Practical Tips for Exploring Mixed Media

If you're inspired to explore mixed media and stay true to your creative vision, here are some practical tips to help you on your journey:

  1. Start with Your Strengths: Begin by incorporating elements from the mediums you're already comfortable with. This will provide a strong foundation as you experiment with new techniques.
  2. Research and Learn: Study the works of mixed media artists who inspire you. Learn about different materials, tools, and methods to broaden your understanding and spark new ideas. It's even better if you can attend in-person workshops with the artists who inspire you. While online learning resources are fantastic, there's no substitute for observing a mentor firsthand as they teach their techniques and provide direct feedback after you implement them.
  3. Experiment Freely: Give yourself the freedom to experiment without the pressure of creating a masterpiece. Embrace the process of trial and error, and view each attempt as a learning opportunity. Remember, a sketchbook is just that—a place to practice sketches without any obligation to create something extraordinary. The same principle applies to studio work. Let go of perfectionism and the high expectations of producing a masterpiece every time you pick up a brush.
  4. Document Your Journey: Keep a journal or sketchbook to document your experiments, ideas, and reflections. This will help you track your progress and identify patterns or themes that emerge in your work.

Although I personally find it challenging to journal regularly—it's how the Fineliner Diaries started, as I prefer drawing over writing—I do make a point of photographing creative milestones in the studio. I've also begun scanning my drawings at various stages of creation, including contour lines, watercolor applications, and colored fineliner crosshatching.

This approach not only allows me to track the evolution of my creative journey by improving project planning and resin pouring preparation but also helps me to securely back up my drawings and patterns. By saving distinct design elements at various creative stages, I ensure that I won't lose everything in the event of a program crash or accidental damage to a drawing.

  1. Stay True to Your Vision: While it's important to be open to new ideas, always stay true to your artistic vision. Let your personal experiences, beliefs, and passions guide your creative choices.

Although certain media trends will undoubtedly gain popularity, you need not feel obligated to follow every single one. Trust that you'll recognize which trends you want to explore and which might seamlessly integrate with your current projects.

As a personal example regarding this, when I discovered the Artivive app, I realized it could transform my Peony Glitch painting by adding a 3D dimension (digital extension). It brought to life the glitching effect I had envisioned for the centerpiece flower, truly animating it.

Conversely, I never quite managed to embrace the NFT trend in art, despite my genuine interest in it.


Understanding your origins and the core elements of your creativity is vital for any artistic journey. This foundation provides a base of knowledge and authenticity, enabling you to explore new directions with confidence. By embracing mixed media, artists can push boundaries, challenge conventions, and discover new forms of self-expression.

Despite criticism from "art puritans," remember that innovation and experimentation are essential for the growth and evolution of art. By staying true to your roots and following your creative instincts, you can create meaningful, impactful work that resonates with others.

So, don't hesitate to mix media, experiment with new techniques, and follow your heart. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards are boundless. Embrace your roots and let them guide you as you navigate the vast and exciting world of mixed media art.

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