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Learning A New Medium

Updated on January 6, 2014
doodles, just a simple feather.
doodles, just a simple feather.

Finding Your Niche In Art

Everywhere you go, different artists will tell you different things about how to improve and what the best mediums are. Well, the reason for that is because creating art is a different experience for everyone. Much like finding the right diet, or finding the right clothes that fit for you, you have to find what works for you in the world of art. I haven’t had many chances to explore a lot of mediums, but I have tried enough to pick a favorite and know where I belong. I’ve tried pottery, oil pastels and regular pastels, painting, paper mache, and even some wood work. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and pens. I’m not sure I can call everything I’ve done off the top of my head, but I belong in the world of pencils and lead.

Experiencing A New Medium

Everything takes time and work, so you should never try it once and give up. It amazes me how many people don’t know that. Every artist hears it all that time- “I wish I could do that!” You have to apply yourself. Only in Greek mythology are people born with amazing skill. Anyone and everyone can do it, but you have to do it. Often times, you’ll probably hear me say “I can’t paint.” Which completely contradicts everything I just said. It’s also a bit strange, since painting and pottery (mostly painting, though) are the only mediums I was raised around, as my mother is an artist as well. The reason I say I can’t paint, is because I personally dislike the medium. My preferred method for trying something new, is to jump right in and get elbow deep into the heart of the medium. Which is exactly –quite literally- what I did with painting. Sometimes I do enjoy painting, but it’s really not my thing. For the first time trying something new, you shouldn’t try to master it and create something amazing. Just get a feel for it, and the basics of that medium is like.

The picture shown is my last painting, I did a few months ago on my wall. Yes, that’s how I paint, and that’s the reason I like it sometimes. If you’re good enough, you can express that emotion with lead but you can’t get the same feeling while doing it. It’s the feeling of scattered, unbound freedom that I enjoy about painting. The painting represents the sky in all its phases. There is some silver there for the moon and stars, and pink for the sunset, but it’s hard to see in the picture I’ve taken.

There's a window right below it, I adjusted the light the best I could.
There's a window right below it, I adjusted the light the best I could.

Starting A New Medium

With the picture and description of painting I gave you, you probably have at least somewhat of an idea about what I mean when I say “jump right in”. To elaborate, I’ll explain using another medium. I recently received a new set of oil pastels, a medium I hadn’t yet used. I had used regular pastels, and figured they had to be similar. Although they are alike in some ways, they are still very different. I really love pastels, and I wish I had the chance to grow with them more. The differences between oil pastels and regular pastels is pretty hard to ignore. To try them for the first time, I drew a simple flower and used the oil pastels to color it. This way, I can just feel the medium and get an understanding of the basic use. I didn’t try any shading, any hatching or draw anything special for the practice picture because it was only practice and I knew I was bound to screw it up. After I colored the flower a basic color, I did try to had the blue to see how the oil pastels would blend and mesh together. I’m still playing around with colors and blending, I haven’t moved on to hatching and shading. It’s okay to keep playing around with the basics for a while, it’s probably better for you. Like I said before though, it all depends on the artist which style fits best.

Mastering A New Medium

In order to master any medium, you just can’t give up. As children, we all drew simple stick figures. Then one day, we started give those figures a little more body. Then, those bodies got more form to them. After that, we start shading some. Once we get that down, we start shading with detail. Those few things alone can take years to develop. The most important to remember about art and being an artist is that you will never stop learning. You will never stop improving your work. So, I’m not sure if there really is a way to master any medium. Even if you’re extremely good at it, you can always get better. You always will get better. I keep all of my work, or at least every bit that I can. I have work dating back to a time before I knew my ABC’s. One of the things I like to do, is take a drawing or sketch I did years before and recreate it with the skills I have today. It shows me how much I have improved, and is a good way to stay in practice if you haven’t done anything in a while or just need something to do.


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