Media & Techniques

2 Key Things to Know Before Diving Into a Mixed-Media Project

In my district, I teach the last required art class which means it is important that I expose my students to as many different mediums as possible. In 5th grade, students create projects that focus on one medium at a time, allowing them to really get a feel for each medium’s unique qualities. In 6th grade, however, students have more choice and many times mix the mediums up.

Here are two big things I have learned when creating mixed media projects with my middle schoolers.


 #1 Reviewing before you begin is a good idea.

Three months over the summer may not seem like that long, but for my kiddos it is enough time to forget the difference between chalk and oil pastel. Before we start a mixed media project, I like to have them complete a quick review of each medium. I set up stations at each table and they move from station to station playing with the different mediums and marking down what they like and dislike about each one.

Mixed Medium 1


#2 Providing guidance is important.

After several years of doing mixed media projects, I have learned that students are most successful when you guide them as to how to combine multiple mediums. Some examples include having students use one medium for the background, one for the middle ground and another for the foreground,

Mixed Medium 2

having students divide their paper into sections and filling each section with a different medium,

mixed medium 3

or having students complete drawings using different mediums and collaging them together for the final project.

mixed medium image 4


Regardless of what they create and how they use the mediums students love the freedom of mixing things up.

Here are some exciting mixed media lessons from around the blogosphere.

These mixed media owls were created and shared by the “Small Hands Big Art” blog. There are so many things happening in here from lines to shapes to colors, texture and patterns.  You can see the whole post here.

mixed media 5

Elisa Santambrogio is a middle school art teacher in Italy who made these beautiful mixed media perspective drawings with her students. See the whole post here.

mixed media 6

This four season tree was shared by the blog “My Artful Nest” and was done as a collaborative project. I could see this being a great lesson for those upper-level students who might represent the changing seasons or maybe even the different parts of themselves. You can see the whole post here.

mixed media 7

You can check out even more ideas on this Pinterest Board.

Do you have a favorite mixed media project?  Share the link below!

What is your favorite part of working with multiple mediums?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Carlisle

Jennifer Carlisle, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She loves exploring and teaching art through both traditional and digital art mediums.

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