The best books to help you explore mixed media acrylic painting techniques, along with color and composition

Why am I passionate about this?

My mixed media journey began as a kid growing up in a family of scientists and artists. I always loved to combine things, adding unusual objects to my mud sculptures and later mixing things up as a chemistry student. I created some wild concoctions as a bartender and then eventually as an acrylic painter. I began as a traditional oil painter, but I moved on to painting murals on walls, and cutting stones and metalwork. I introduced the other art students to some great construction sites where we would scavenge materials and give them new life. This passion led me to write six books on mixed media.

I wrote...

Acrylic Painting for Encaustic Effects: 45 Wax Free Techniques

By Sandra Duran-Wilson,

Book cover of Acrylic Painting for Encaustic Effects: 45 Wax Free Techniques

What is my book about?

Discover 45 innovative ways to use acrylic paints, mediums, and a variety of mixed-media art supplies to achieve the look of encaustic without the wax or the heat usually required. Compose and create intriguing works of art with fun techniques that include creating crackles, carving with stencils, making wax-like elements, adding image transfers, and so much more!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting: Fun, Creative and Innovative Techniques

Sandra Duran-Wilson Why did I love this book?

Abstract Explorations has many projects that will take you from start to finish.

She has a limited number of products to use, and her compositions are strong and consistent throughout the book. I think the strengths are the creative ways she shows you how to use traditional tools like stencils, stamps, and pens.

The idea of beginning a painting with a black background and adding resist lines before adding color lends itself to a powerful value range.

There are beautiful color combinations that you will want to try and the compositions are fresh and energized.

By Jo Toye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Built around the concepts of play and practice, Jo Toye embraces experimentation and innovation. Focusing on technique, line and "working small," she shares a host of unusual techniques and works with unusual materials.
As many acrylic artists do, Jo creates primarily (but not exclusively) abstract art. Her emphasis on line and the use of line to build an understructure for design and composition is unique, as is her incorporation of "writing" into her paintings. Surely, few acrylic artists have ever thought of painting on a black surface or using razor blades masking fluid pens, applicator bottles or mouth atomizers to…

Book cover of Confident Color: An Artist's Guide to Harmony, Contrast and Unity

Sandra Duran-Wilson Why did I love this book?

Color is visual and this book shows you through images how colors interact with each other and what constitutes good color combinations.

She sets the foundation for rules and color strategies, but she moves on to incorporate various color wheels and finished paintings using those selected colors. I love how she categorizes various color wheels from traditional to bold, opaque earth, old masters, and modern palettes.

She also shows paintings using various color combinations from triads to analogous color combinations and all the other possible combos.

I love this book because it is educational and visually beautiful.

By Nita Leland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confident Color as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to use color in your own unique and expressive way!

Color is what you make it: sensitive, explosive, dreamlike, atmospheric, somber, cheerful. Nita Leland brings logic and intuition together to create a foundation for color selections that allow you to be more inventive, break out of old habits and experiment with new colors. Her approach eliminates time-wasting trial and error while giving you the freedom to use color in personal, meaningful and exciting ways.


   • Artwork from more than 50 contributing artists that illustrates many personal approaches to color
   • 85 "Try It" activities that will help…

Book cover of Acrylic Revolution: New Tricks and Techniques for Working with the World's Most Versatile Medium

Sandra Duran-Wilson Why did I love this book?

Acrylic Revolution introduces the artist to an assortment of tools, products, and techniques to help you understand the many possibilities of using acrylic paint.

It is a book you want to keep handy as you explore what acrylic paint can do. Nancy provides an extensive list of tips, tools, materials, and a handy glossary.

The book has steps to take you through everything from gluing, creating textures to how to change your paint to act like other mediums. The technique steps have helpful photos but limited finished art.

However, there are many beautiful pieces at the end of the book with handy page references to go back and see the techniques that were used to create them.

This is a great book for someone starting out in the acrylic painting.

By Nancy Reyner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Acrylic Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acrylic Revolution is your essential, all-in-one guide for acrylic painting techniques and more. Use any of the over 101 strategies to break through the boundaries of conventional painting and redefine your creative potential with the world's most versatile medium.
Every page is packed with insights into using acrylic paint in ways you never thought possible to create stunning visual effects and textures.
A gallery of finished art at the back of the book will show you how to combine different tricks to use in their artwork offering you real-life applications for acrylic techniques.

Book cover of Rethinking Acrylic: Radical solutions for exploiting the world's most versatile medium

Sandra Duran-Wilson Why did I love this book?

Patti’s book is a visual feast.

She features several artists working in a wide range of styles. This really shows the dynamic range that can be achieved with acrylic.

She begins with a comprehensive introduction to acrylic paints, even how they are made. If you really like details this book has so many tidbits and treasures but first you have to pull your eyes away from the colorful artwork and actually read.

I discovered many helpful solutions to issues after I sat down one day and read it cover to cover. I love seeing the finished art and it will jump-start your imagination.

By Patti Brady,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rethinking Acrylic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revolutionize your work with acrylics!

Get ready for the creative ride of your life! Tradition is out, experimentation is in with this cutting-edge how-to sampler of techniques to use with acrylic, the world's most versatile medium. Inside, you'll find inventive, non-traditional, downright inspirational ways to paint with acrylic (pour, scrape, squirt, roll, layer and excavate).

Workshop style instruction covers a wide range of approaches:
Watermedia Effects * Creating Texture Gels * Subtractive Techniques * Collage and Acrylic Skins * Acrylic Transfers and the Printed Image * Pours * Acrylic Encaustic * Metallic and Reflective Paints * Drawing and Resists with…

Book cover of Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques and the Personal Artistic Journey

Sandra Duran-Wilson Why did I love this book?

Jean’s book has a novel format for teaching that I love.

She does begin with an introduction to acrylics but then she breaks down various components with examples and then a featured artist to explore that technique. She shows how collage, texture, drawing, and different styles can turn out so different using the same materials.

Jean is a brilliant figurative mixed media artist and she abstracts the figure in a way that invites even nonobjective painters to want to try a new subject manner. She has some fun composition ideas and even a roadmap of when to add other materials.

A visually beautiful book that will inspire your work no matter what your genre.

By Jean Pederson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mixed Media Painting Workshop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The artistic journey of a lifetime!

Are you interested in adding a bit of mixed media to your artwork but unsure exactly how? Mixed Media Painting Workshop takes the fear out of artistic experimentation and instead celebrates the journey, step by step!

With Mixed Media Painting Workshop, you'll learn a variety of techniques and use a unique selection of materials to express yourself and your style! From backgrounds to sketching, from painting to collage, from the elements of design to subject matter, you'll find it all right here!

Inside Mixed Media Painting Workshop you'll find:

A plethora of background information--get…

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Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

Book cover of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

Lisa McCourt Author Of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a joyful person. But today I’m freaking sunshine, and full-out committed to being an effective member of the team that’s elevating the level of love and joy in the world! My positions on that team have included writing dozens of mega-selling books (my own, and as a ghostwriter), founding my online Joy School at, hosting my Do Joy! podcast, and collaborating on projects with many other popular teachers of consciousness and joyful living. My books have sold over 9 million copies, earned 7 publishing industry awards, and garnered over 9,000 glowing Amazon reviews. Joy is my jam. I know a joyful book when I read one! 

Lisa's book list on igniting joy despite all the crap in your life

What is my book about?

We all want peace. We all want a life of joy and meaning. We want to feel blissfully comfortable in our own skin, moving through the world with grace and ease. But how many of us are actively taking the steps to create such a life? 

In Free Your Joy, millions-selling author and podcaster Lisa McCourt takes readers through the life-altering principles of vibration elevation that she has taught for 20 years through her online Joy School, sharing her unique formula for raising your “joy setpoint” to cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life. Joy is…

Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

What is this book about?

Bestselling author and creator of Joy School Lisa McCourt outlines her unique formula for sustainable happiness, offering a year's worth of activities, prompts, and techniques that raise your "joy setpoint" so you can cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life.

Unprecedented global events have left many of us feeling depleted, depressed, isolated, and disconnected from many of the things that made us happy. Lisa McCourt, host of the Do Joy! podcast and founder of Joy School, helps people raise their joy setpoints regardless of what is happening around them.

Learning about joy is one thing, but it's…

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