Featured Artist Helen Becker Discusses Her Process as a Mixed Media Artist

Mixed Media Artist Helen Becker

  Go With the Flow , 2017, Acrylic with Combined Media on Paper Mounted on Wood Panel, 22” x 28”

Go With the Flow, 2017, Acrylic with Combined Media on Paper Mounted on Wood Panel, 22” x 28”

What are some things that come to mind when working with acrylics to create mixed media art? Acrylics are very versatile for the mixed media artist who wants to work quickly, yet still have the same feel and responsiveness of working with oil paints. The same pigment can be found in different mediums, from watercolor to mixed media collage. It’s the vehicle used to carry the pigments that changes. Acrylics dry fast. Acrylic paint can be layered one on top of the other when creating abstract collage art without waiting too long for the layers to dry. This means that layers of mixed media collage materials can be placed and glued down easily and quickly. The speed this medium gives to the mixed media artist allows her to respond more intuitively to her collage art. I don’t get caught up TOO much in thinking TOO hard about my next move. I just get in there and create mixed media collage.

  Exit , 2017, Acrylic with Combined media on Canvas, 40" x 30"

Exit, 2017, Acrylic with Combined media on Canvas, 40" x 30"

As a result of this speed, it is easy to play more with the process of creating abstract collage art rather than keying in on the final product. This is what I like to focus on as a mixed media artist - to combine the process of creating abstract collage and product so that both are equally important.  The process allows me to put emotions into my collage paintings.

Unlike some mixed media artists, I do not use mediums or gels with my acrylic work. I am more of a purest mixed media artist in this regard. Give me some paint and let me paint. That’s all I need to do. The collage painting adds another dimension to my work.

I generally like to work on either stretched canvas or 140 lb or 300 lb watercolor paper to create my mixed media collages. The canvas is gallery wrapped and is one and a half inches deep. I usually add sawdust to all my canvases for some added texture to the collage painting. I paint the side edges by continuing the content of the abstract collage onto the edges. It is more difficult to do this than painting the edges black but I think the former effect is a much nicer addition to my mixed media collage than the latter.

For some of my collage art I choose work on heavy watercolor paper which I have primed with several coats of white gesso. This surface reacts in the same way as a canvas primed with gesso. After I have completed the collage painting I glue this paper down to a two and a half inch deep painted wood panel. A one inch margin of painted wood shows all the way around the mixed media art. After pressing it for twenty four hours under heavy weights the abstract collage is finally adhered to the wood panel.  Lastly, I apply several coats of polycrylic water-based varnish over the entire piece; collage art work and panel. This seals in the collage painting so that I do not have to bother with framing the paper and putting it under glass. I find this process to be the most time consuming aspect of creating abstract collage art but the effect is so stunning on mixed media art that I take the time to do it.

Visit her work at https://www.helenbeckercollagepainting.com/