The beauty of art is that there are no rules – it’s all about expressing yourself and pushing boundaries. Because art can be whatever you want it to be, there are no restrictions or guidelines you must follow.
Whatever medium or style speaks to you is what you should go with, but how do you go about choosing a medium – especially if you are a beginning artist? Here are some tips for choosing the right medium by reviewing the pros and cons of each.
1. Oil Paint
Many artists like oil paints because they dry slowly which enables you to make changes over a longer period of time – it also opens up new opportunities for blending colors or creating thick layers of paint. On the downside, some of the oil mediums you’ll need to create different effects contain toxic ingredients and oil paintings need to be handled and stored carefully because they never fully cure, even when they are dry to the touch. Some colors also tend to yellow over time or may crack if too thick.
2. Acrylic Paint
If you prefer a paint medium that dries quickly, acrylic is a good option. There are also many mediums and products you can use to make acrylic paints dry more slowly or to change their texture, absorbency, or sheen. Acrylic paints allow for a great deal of creativity and they generally don’t crack or yellow over time, though they may take up to 2 weeks to cure fully.
Another popular paint medium, watercolor offers unique opportunities for blending and for creating transparency. This medium also allows some room for error as the water-soluble nature of the paint makes it possible to make some changes, even after it has dried. On the downside, the paint does sink into and stain paper surfaces so you won’t be able to fully remove it once it dries. Also, watercolor paintings need to be protected behind glass due to its nonpermanent nature.
4. Chalk Pastel
A dry medium, chalk pastels are technically a drawing medium and they do not require any drying time. This medium is highly portable and great for use outdoors – they also come in a wide range of colors and they can be blended directly on your working surface. On the downside, pastel pieces do need protection behind glass. There are spray fixatives you can use but they may cause some discoloration or changes in sheen.
5. Oil Pastel
This type of pastel is technically a drawing medium, though it creates an affect similar to oil paints. These pastels can be layered on top of each other or used in conjunction with other wet media to create a unique effect.
6. Mixed Media
Who says you have to choose a single medium to work with? As an artist, it is all about bringing your vision to life and sometimes you can’t do that with a single type of paint or drawing medium. Mixed media comes with its own challenges but it also offers expanded opportunities for creativity.