Trying Different Painting Mediums

Perhaps you have just started out in art and are keen to try out different painting mediums, or you have been painting or drawing in one particular medium and are slightly hesitant to start in another as you don’t know much about. Here are a few tips to get you started and expand your artistic repertoire.

Each medium has it’s own qualities and is often suited to different types of painting. Most artists tend to gravitate towards one particular medium and concentrate on that as this gives them the opportunity to learn all of the intricacies of that medium and become proficient in it.

Drawing

Charcoal Tin Whistle

Sometimes artists start out straight away in painting rather than beginning with the basics of drawing. Whatever stage you are at it can really help you in any medium to have a good grasp of the basic techniques of drawing. You can draw in many mediums as well as pencil, including charcoal, pastels or pen and ink. Working in charcoal can be a great medium to help with shading and building contours and this shading can help give your pictures more depth. Pastels can also be fun and come out with different results to painting in other mediums. Drawing in general can help with your perspectives and accuracy of depicting scenes. You could also move to a different area of drawing if you have already been used to simple drawing techniques. Maybe you want to expand to be able to draw caricatures?

A lot of people think that they ‘can’t’ draw but if you learn the techniques and practice them then really everyone is able to draw even if to different levels. Keep practising and you will get there!

Watercolour

'Bildeston' in Watercolour

If you have not tried working with watercolour then you should definitely give it a try. A few plus points of using watercolours include:

  • You can start easily with a few materials that do not take up much space
  • There are a wide variety of classes available usually at your local community centres and adult learning establishments
  • You can go out and do a quick watercolour painting in situ with just a few items
  • Watercolours dry quickly and can be done on paper and so you can quickly create your own work of art and frame it
  •  If you do a watercolour painting and decide you don’t like it then just throw away the paper and start again!

Acrylics

'Tartan' - Abstract Acrylic

Painting with acrylics can be fun and can produce some interesting results but the paints do take a bit of getting used to. Acrylic paints are water-soluble when wet but not when dry and they dry quickly. So it is advisable to make the most of thequalities that acrylics have and use those to your advantage. You can use acrylics to do traditional ‘realistic’ style paintings but I think that the real beauty comes from using them to create abstract works.

You can paint acrylics on to many surfaces including the traditional canvas or board, and maybe you could even use some texture to create and almost sculptural effect. Be radical and find some different objects to include in your painting. You could also use acrylics in a watered-down form to get some interesting effects. Acrylics dry really quickly so maybe you can have a fun painting day with some friends and see what you can create.

Oils

Oil paints are a beautiful medium particularly if you want to blend the paints or produce wonderful rich colours. Oil painting can be a bit daunting for people who have no idea how to use thinners, linseed oil and all the other extras that go with it. Get yourself a book to learn the essentials or take a couple of lessons and see what you can achieve with these wonderful paints. Check out the article on ‘Oil Painting For Beginners‘ for more information.

There are also other painting and drawing mediums that you can choose including encaustic, airbrushing and mixed media. Give as many of them a try as you can and see which one suits you best. It may be more than one medium. For me I started in watercolor, dabbled in pastels and charcoal, but my first love is oils. I now paint a lot in acrylics though and make the most of the properties of each kind of paint depending on what I am painting.

Pastels

A Pastel Landscape

Pastels are a great, if slightly messy, medium to work with and really come into their own when using smooth blending techniques. Having said that, I have seen a lot of great, really precise, pastel paintings. There are a number of different pastels that you can use but the attached picture was completed using just a few colours of soft pastels.

You may need to fix your painting afterwards as the pastel is easily brushed off the paper if not and their are specialist fixatives that you can use (as well as just hairspray).

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How to get texture into your art.