When it comes to mixed media with paper, few will disagree that it opens the doors to an endless realm of possibilities. Paper is often one of the main mediums used in mixed media – as a substrate, as part of the background or the focal point of the artwork, or as embellishment. Regardless of the exact way in which you plan to use paper in your mixed media projects, it is important to take extra care in selecting the best papers in terms of visual appeal and quality. In the following lines I will give you a few tips on how to choose high quality papers for mixed media projects that will stand the test of time.

Mixed media with paper: visual appeal. Everybody knows the popular proverb ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ The literal meaning of this ancient Greek saying is that the perception of beauty is subjective: what seems visually appealing to you may be considered utterly distasteful to someone else. In that sense, how can you select paper designs that will be perceived as “beautiful” by your peers? The good news is that you do not have to worry about that! Since mixed media implies that various different mediums will be used, you should not be too much obsessed by looking for the nicest paper designs but rather concentrate on the completed “image”. Go for papers that:

  • work well together in terms of color (together and as part of the overall color composition)
  • best illustrate the overall “feel” of the mixed media art piece you are creating
  • can most effectively translate the “message” of your artwork

Mixed media with paper: quality. The key to creating artworks that will last and retain its beauty for the generations to come is to always opt in for high-grade materials. That applies to any kind of art and any type of media, including paper. What are the characteristics of high quality paper for mixed media?

  • go for artists’ quality (archival grade) paper. These are acid free papers designed to endure, i.e. will not change color and become brittle over time
  • use handmade papers as they are much more stable, durable and generally can sustain a heavier use of paint, inks and other mediums
  • look for high quality print

Additionally, you should carefully consider how the different mixed media supplements may interact with the paper you use.

Where to find paper for your mixed media crafts? That pretty much depends on the intended use of the paper: is it going to be the substrate of your project or you are planning to use it for creating the background or the focal point of your project. In case you are creating mixed media on paper, the best choice is to purchase appropriate high quality paper. Almost any kind of paper is good for creating backgrounds or focal points – from junk papers (newspaper, magazine and old book pages, junk mail, old paper bags, etc.) to hand painted digital paper packs that you can print at home.

Perhaps the one feature that makes mixed media so alluring for craft enthusiasts and professional artists is the vast choice of mediums that can be used in the creation of memorable art and craft items. Inevitably, paper is one of the essential “ingredients” that should not be overlooked. Focus on quality and remember that sometimes the most boring looking papers that you would normally throw away can be used create different stunning mixed media compositions.