You never know what you will discover.

How do you grow as an artist? Honestly you just keep doing the work. The work that resonates with you. You can work in more than one medium, or several at once, and still move forward. You will surprise yourself! What we fail to remember is that techniques are invented, discovered, re-invented, and re-imagined each day all over the world. By people who went to art school and those who did not. You never know what you will discover.

Mixed media art journaling in an altered book by Tammy Garcia.

One of my favorite escapes is the process of mixed media art journaling.


❝When I return to ___ⓐ___
after working with ___ⓓ___
my mind is in a different space.❞

My method of madness is to rotate between projects/mediums. You might choose to do quite the opposite. See? No map. In this MadLibs format… ⓐ and ⓓ are variables representing different mediums. Like last year I did a 365+ deep-dive into little inked art cards, painted pages for my new gouache workshop, worked in my altered books, participated in ICAD, etc. The repertoire is fairly consistent the past several years… ink, gouache, acrylics, collage, pen, and thread. And now that I think about it, digital art, blogging, writing, and photography hum in the background.

There isn't any rule book - or map.

A path of Oklahoma flagstone materializes as you go, and you've got to trust in some aspect of the process or you won't keep moving forward.


Playing with collage elements, found papers, and assorted ephemera.

It’s kind of like Atari’s Pong, the puck bouncing around the edges but eventually going round and round.

The good parts. When I move “back” to something, I experience it again with fresh eyes. I gain something from each thing I do, plus the breaks give me a new start and the chance to take a tangent. Like, the work I’m doing in ink has informed the work I’m doing in gouache — or is it the other way around? Who knows!

Each medium is unique. And that balance of everything-ness keeps my creative wheels spinning. I’m never bored! Like when I paint with gouache, it feels floaty. Ink ➼ I’m a mad scientist! And then there’s the feeling of escape that happens when I work in my altered books [that’s acrylics + collage]. Some practices are structured, others are quite free-form.

Mixed media panels, Tammy Garcia, 2013.

Painting with acrylics on wood board.

Playing with inks.

Abstractions + mark-making in ink [reviewed Dr. Ph. Martin inks here].

Altered hardback book by Tammy Garcia.

Mixed media art journaling + collage escapades in an altered hardback book, including hand-stitching, machine-stitching, index cards, washi tape, found papers, magazine images, gel medium transfers, acrylics, and Neocolors.

Each medium works differently. I’m lucky to be able to work with SO many different materials! Following your curiosity is fun! There is ALWAYS something to learn or research or practice. So that engages my brain! There is also the SCIENTIFIC stuff, the way it actually, literally, functions. The characteristics, the tools, the fluidity, the permanence, the chemical interactions, the texture, glossiness, the type of paper… etc.

The bad parts. Deciding between [thing (a) or thing (b)] is bittersweet. It means that some other aspect of the process often needs to be upended|altered|impacted|transformed. There is a flow to the creative process — that is interrupted. But I can’t say that interruption is always bad. I know that I’m scattered, but this is how I work.

Tiny ink illustration by Tammy Garcia.

Tiny illustration in ink.

Journal in gouache and card in ink by Tammy Garcia.

Painting patterns in gouache [the journal] and similar patterns in ink [the small card].

But in the end, I don’t think there is any other way I could do this. I like picking up the fringe threads, regrouping, figuring out. Sometimes I have to stumble sideways or slantways or diagonally [diagonalways doesn’t seem like a word]. But this constant refreshing of creative energy is EXACTLY what empowers me. It is what keeps my creative ideas flowing, medium to medium, page to page, day to day.

Keep on creating!!!

PS. I teach workshops in mixed media art journaling with acrylics + collage {Novel Approach + Groovy Grunge}.
PSS. I teach workshops in abstract painting in watercolor and gouache {Tiny Museum + Tiny Adventure}.
For information go to the Workshops Section!

art journal, 1bestDaisy Yellow