Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
Mixed media paper is something I get asked about ALL THE TIME by my students! As mixed media artists, we need super strong paper that isn't gonna buckle no matter how many wet, messy mixed media art supplies we throw at it. If you're a mixed media beginner or a seasoned artist looking for answers that won't break the bank, today's video is for you!
Mixed media art supplies can get overwhelming FAST because there are so many to choose from. I've created a FREE 9-page Supplies Guide to explain which mixed media art supplies I love most AND how they perform so you know what to expect right from the start.
Simply click the button below, and I'll send it right over.
Once you understand your supplies a bit better, mixed media art will become SO much more FUN! If you need help with layering check out my signature Hamburger System. When you're in the mood to work with fewer supplies, check out the Hot Dog System!
Before we continue, super quick announcement: All product links are Affiliate. I may earn a small commission if you choose to order through these links but by law there is never any additional cost to the consumer for doing so. I thank you for your support.
When it comes to mixed media projects you want to complete on paper, my advice is to simply use watercolor paper EVERY time.
Are you surprised by my answer?!
People usually are. I know there are a zillion papers sold by amazing brands labeled "Mixed Media Paper," but trust me. I've tried them all, and nothing holds water soluble products, watercolors, fountain pen inks, acrylic paints, mod podge, and even collage- like watercolor paper!
Take a look...
See the vintage postcard collage materials above? I glued these all down with matte medium in my Strathmore Watercolor Journal, and did a full on, 7 layer mixed media project on top of it - "Hamburger Style" (see below). This page was FULL of matte medium, gesso, mod podge and acrylic paint!
If you're new to me and my work, I do mixed media art projects on anything and everything. Typically if I'm not working on canvas, I'll do projects in my Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal (above), or on loose sheets of watercolor paper.
To keep things simple, I'm teaching you about 3 main kinds of watercolor paper today:
While rough cut watercolor paper can be super fun, keep in mind, your watercolors aren't going to work exactly the same as they would on cold or hot press paper. It's just different. Here's one of my rough cut watercolor art journals:
What about cost? You'll notice when you visit your favorite craft store that there's super cheap watercolor paper and crazy expensive watercolor paper.
What's the difference?!
When it comes to the cost of watercolor paper, the biggest factor connected with expensive watercolor paper is the percentage of cotton used to create the paper. The higher the percentage, the higher the price.
Arches is one of the most expensive watercolor papers because it's made up of 100% pure cotton. You can find the cotton percentage of paper on the cover (yellow arrow above). This type of paper typically comes in "blocks," so the paper stays nice and firm, and does not buckle.
If you find a watercolor paper without the cotton percentage noted, you're likely in the right place, and your cost will be significantly cheaper. I love using Canson watercolor paper for doing practice work. It's much more reasonable than Arches.
The second cost factor to watch for when you're buying watercolor paper for mixed media projects is the paper's weight.
At a minimum, I recommend using 140lb. paper, especially if you're doing mixed media work on top and not just watercoloring. Don't use the 90lb. paper because it's just not gonna hold up.
The watercolor paper I typically use now is by Fabriano. It's 25% cotton (and 75% cheaper than the Arches brand!), plus it comes in either hot press (smooth) or cold press (textured). This is a very high quality paper. You can work on this and it will be museum quality, is great if you want to sell or gift your work.
HOT TIP: You DON'T have to put gesso on top of watercolor paper to prime it for acrylic paints - just start painting!
Gesso is well-known in the world of mixed media art as a primer for acrylics, but when you're working on watercolor paper for mixed media projects, it's not needed, so save your money and skip the gesso!
I hope you found this info helpful! Be sure to click over to the video, so you know what to look for next time you head to the craft store on the hunt for mixed media paper for your own masterpieces!
"Karen is flipping hilarious and she's very real...I like the way she teaches in a way that really gives you confidence, whether you're a beginner or advanced there's always something new to learn!"
- Elizabeth W.
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Karen, you are absolutely fabulous! You make me feel like I can draw anything. I have recently retired and finally have the time to do some of the art that I have loved since I was in school. I am really at the beginning of my art journey and I hope to learn as much as I can. Thank you for all you do.