What is the Best Medium for an Artist to Work With?
Now more than ever, there is an ever-growing variety of media in which an artist can work. When an artist decides what it is he or she wants to create, there is at once another vital decision to be made. What medium will he use, or, in other words, what means will be most suitable for communicating his message?
This may not seem to be terribly important, but it is. Suppose, for instance, that the artist wishes to create the image of a horse, stressing above all its massive power. He is likely to be more successful if he carves it in stone than if he makes it of porcelain.
Pencil, charcoal, pen and ink
Again, it may be the speed of the horse that interests him, and in this case a drawing may serve his purpose best. If, however, it is color and texture he wants, he must make a painting. The artist may want more than one copy of his horse - if so, he will have to make prints of it.
Having made the first decision about a medium, there are other, finer points to be settled. There are many different kinds of pencils, charcoals and crayons for drawing, and a number of different methods of painting. If the artist wants to make prints there are several ways of doing this.
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Oil, acrylic, watercolor
Oil paint is probably the best-known medium today, as it has been for about six hundred years. It is so called because the granules of color, or pigment, are bound together with linseed and other oils. This paint is usually applied to stretched canvas or to board, both of which are first treated to prevent their absorbing the paint. If these are well prepared and of good quality, a painting should last many years.
In watercolor painting the pigment is bound by gums, such as gum arabic, and the color block or paste is soluble in water. This is used mainly on heavyweight paper or board, and the transparency of the color gives a luminous effect. Gouache paint is also water-soluble, but it is much more opaque than water color and less difficult to apply, as a light color may be painted over a dark one.
Other materials may be used to bind pigments, such as the white of egg used in tempera painting. This paint is used on a wet or dry plaster surface, and it also gives a glowing, transparent effect. When used on wet plaster it is known as fresco.
Mixed Media Art Canvas - Journey
Collage and Mixed Media
The 20th century brought many new methods. One of these was collage, which is painting by sticking down bits of various materials, such as paper, wood, cloth or metal.
There are also new media for binding pigment color, including polymer and acrylic resins. New methods of working, like the spraying of paint from aerosol cans, add to the number of choices now open to the artist. So, too, does the introduction of drawing instruments like ball-point and fiber-tip pens.
Technology contributes the materials, and art finds the uses tor them. Digital interactive media, such as 3D animation, has increased the speed in which an artist can create, but it doesn't replace the artists creative ability and imagination.
The invention of plastics has given the sculptor many new and exciting materials. These are now so numerous that they may be tough, brittle, soft, or even inflatable. And it is no longer necessary for sculpture to convey movement only through its form. Instead, sculpture really can move!
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Printmaking and Photography
Artists who use print-making are also experimenting beyond the traditional methods, which are: raised surface printing, such as linocut and woodcut; lowered surface printing, such as etching; and same-surface printing, such as silk-screen and lithography.
The growth and development of photography has brought possibilities of new methods to add to these old ways.
What is your favorite art medium?
© 2014 Paula Atwell