Popular Painting Mediums – Oil, Acrylic, Watercolour and Mixed Media
23 January, 2020
23 January, 2020
Viewing art can be an overwhelming process, particularly with so many different styles, subjects and mediums in use. Below we take you through a simple guide to the different painting mediums available to artists and why they might choose one over the other.
Oil paints are one of the most widely used mediums for artists. Its use proliferated from the 15th Century and it continues to be considered the gold standard of painting medium with its own dedicated institute. Made from binding pigments to oils such as linseed oil, the paint is pliable, slow drying and rich. The properties of the oil allow for swift and broad brushstrokes whilst its slow drying time (sometimes months) offers artists extended working time, allowing for adjustments and changes to be made to paintings between sessions.
Some of Forest Gallery’s most successful still life artist rely on the slow drying time of oil paint to maintain consistency of colours as they work to reproduce the scene they are capturing.
Acrylic paints offer the body, colour, and durability of oils without the expense, mess and toxicity issues of using heavy solvents to mix them. As a result, they are extremely popular amongst professional artists and hobbyists alike. One of the key differences between acrylic and oil, aside from the base used, are their fast drying times.
For artists who like to work quickly and maintain clear colours when painting over parts of the canvas already covered, acrylics offer the preferred attributes. Unlike with oils, acrylics can be touch dry within minutes and ready to take on another layer of paint without mixing with the layer underneath.
For some artists texture is fundamental to the appearance and effect of their artwork. Water based painting mediums offer the broadest selection of materials to work with ranging from impasto gels to sand impregnated mediums and iridescent tints to ceramic matte finishes.
One of the oldest painting mediums, watercolour is named simply for its solubility in water. Made from pigment and a binder of gum-arabic, the medium is highly transportable and accessible. However, be under no illusion, watercolour is one of the trickiest mediums to master. Although available in an opaque (widely known as gouache) and transparent form, the transparent watercolour medium is more familiar to most and relies on the whiteness of the paper underneath to reflect light back through the applied colour.
Watercolour paintings hold a sense of immediacy that can be conveyed in a few, well placed brush strokes. Using the technique wet-in-wet allows colours to flow and drift into each other, creating harmonious and soft transitions between them. Conversely, dry brush work can render unique appearances of texture within the work.
Inks and Mixed Media
Combinations of painting mediums are sometimes used to create effects that one single medium cannot do alone. Pen and ink are a staple for may artists and provide artists with a fluid medium that is able to convey a great sense of dynamism within the work.
There is no definitively better or worse painting medium, rather they each have attributes which may suit one artist’s style better than another. An artist will choose that which best allows them to impart their skill into the art and ultimately convey their vision.
When viewing art you may find yourself enjoying one medium more than another, but remember the medium is simply the means by which the artist is conveying their work. The most important element to consider when viewing art is how it makes you feel, after all artwork is a viewing experience that can influence a multitude of emotions not by the means of how colour is fixed to canvas, but by the marks on that canvas.
To see the collection of works by the artists shown in this article follow their hyperlinked names. More work can also be seen by the featured artist, Marc Allante, through the button below.
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