Before wanderlust I didn’t really know anything about mediums other than online crafty people used this thing called gel medium in much the same way that I’ve always used pva glue… I’ve been using gesso for about eighteen months now but that is the extent of it.

Now, I’m only just starting to realise how much there is that I don’t know about them.  we had a lesson about some of the main types of mediums, including why we might use one over another and a second lesson where Kasia took us through the process of creating a piece using different mediums.  Both have really helped me get a better understanding. There’s lots of info out there (which I’d never bothered looking at before) so this isn’t going to be a post about the why’s, how’s and what’s of mediums.

Realising there are so many different types and not knowing which ones to start with, I treated myself to a golden starter kit which helpfully came with a wanderlust discount. It contains:

Extra heavy gel (matte)
Regular gel (semi-gloss)
Soft gel (gloss)
Light molding paste
Coarse pumice gel
Clear tar gel

My starting point was to grab a piece of card and add a bit of each, playing with creating textures, peaks etc and then seeing how it look and held its shape once it was dry – a lot of the mediums dry clear and its obviously useful to know which before you slap it onto your art. Once dry I played with adding a layer of paint and seeing how that went on.  alongside this I also mixed each medium with a bit of paint to compare the results. I’m obviously picking things up from wanderlust because this kind of experimenting and testing and comparing is not something I’ve ever done before!  Normally I just start using things and learn as I go along.

I then got started with my project for this week – creating a mixed media landscape including different mediums.  As I got working I realised that as well as the different effects you get by applying paint with and over mediums, you also get a different effect by putting the medium over the paint. And it’s good to know which dry opaque in this case!

I don’t think photos will ever do this justice because of the importance of texture but left to right we have paint with heavy gel on top, paint mixed with heavy gel and heavy gel with paint on top. Top to bottom we have dylusions turquoise, dylusions crushed grape and white opaque ink. Chosen mostly because they were what I saw first on my art table. I’d be interested to have a play with other things such as gelatos, chalk pastels and paint pens.


On the right, where colour is over medium, you get more obvious shadows where the nooks don’t get paint cover or in the case of the ink, it pools into the nooks. The middle, where medium and colour are mixed, offers a more solid cover. On the left, medium over paint, you get a mix of texture, that of the paint and that of the medium. The medium has the effect of pushing the paint backwards in the image.


If you like working with texture and haven’t seen dabbled in mediums, try a taster set like the golden one so you can compare different ones, find your favourite and learn what works well for different things.  And whilst I’m normally all for jumping in and just giving it a go, I think there’s value in doing some comparison first – you can always cut it up and use it in your piece later.


Wanderlust: still life

Still life isn’t really my forte. But the teacher was so engaging and inspiring that I had to give it a go. I compromised on materials; she used liquitex gloss fluid medium and varnish to add depth and light to her acrylics but not having any, I used a pearlescent white transparent-ish acrylic. I’d never considered using mediums to affect the paint effect.


Now this is far from a masterpiece but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself given it was my first venture into still life since the days of school. I particularly found the process for creating a background interesting and its something that is very transferable to art journaling.

Mixed media – texture

I think one of the reasons that I love mixed media is the texture that’s involved in it.  The way that I approach creating texture means that you have to let go of the outcome because you simply don’t have much control over it.  You have a rough idea of the type of surface but not the details.

Creating texture

Playing with different ways of pushing paint around would be up there in my top tips for creating texture.  It gives you an idea of how the paint reacts as well as creating unknown effects and it detaches you a little bit from the outcome – you’re playing, you don’t know what the tool will do so you aren’t invested in making it look perfect.

Tools you could use include gift cards or old credit cards, old knives, baby wipes, bubble wrap, fingers, roller.. use them to apply paint but also the remove areas of paint eg using old pens to etch into the paint.

I like to cover a piece of paper in thickish paint and then lay paper on top of it, press it down and pull it up.  You’ll get a different texture each time with no control and have two pieces of coloured paper!

blotting paint

I have a tube of acrylic paint which is probably over 15 years old… It doesn’t work well as acrylic paint any more but it is still a fantastic way to add texture.  It’s got really thick and sticky in it’s old age and you can use it to add height and depth.

old paint
old paint

I’ve also just reached the end of a tub of gesso and used the dry plasticy paint that you get round the top on the inside to add texture to a canvas.