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While I didn’t have high expectations, I certainly hoped for something better than this lackluster and weak colored result. I guess it got way too diluted and lost its ability to deliver the clear vibrant color I wanted to make the gray tones shine.

This is a perfect reminder that when you work on paper it can be your best or worst friend, depending on the quality of the sheet. Looking at how this paper took the washy color I know I won’t ever be able to go back and add more wash layers that will give me that clean vibrant color look.

So time to figure out a plan B. As an advanced beginner or intermediate artist you have some experience with different techniques and types of wet and dry media. Hopefully you have spent some times experimenting with color pencil, pastel, charcoal, gesso, collage, pencils, etc., learning the strengths and weaknesses of each medium.

Now you know which mixed media can be combined and what works together to create the effects you visualize. After reviewing all the different media I decided that only pastel could give me that bold, pure vibrant color that I originally wanted. Pastel also has a unique blend of being translucent (the space between the particles allows the under layer to shine through and reflect light), but it is opaque enough to cover over some problem areas.

So went into the stash, using the reference picture and original fluid color scheme I started with, selected some medium/soft pastel sticks that were similar colors.

Ok, inhale a deep breath and just go for it!! Just trusted myself to add the various colors where they felt right. Certainly wanted to liven up some dead background color, arms and hands. Added both highlights and medium tones to the planes of the face. Right about now a little wine be beneficial!!

Ah, much happier with the addition of pastels and some color pencils. Recap of what was used for this mixed media piece:

1) Should have started the paper with several coats of white gesso, that way the fluid acrylics wouldn’t have been so easily absorbed into the paper

2) Used black/white acrylic gesso for grisaille underpainting

3) Added a layer of diluted fluid acrylics, watery watercolor-like application

4) Added pastels for bold vibrant color passages and pops of color

5) Limited use of color pencils for those little accents and neatening up the edges

Let your combinations and ideas flow as mixed media rides to the rescue and provides extra interest to your next project. You can save that stinker!!

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