There are many different types of painting mediums used all over the world during different time periods. Different mediums are used for different purposes and give different results. It is important to understand the differences in the mediums to be able to select the most suitable one for your desired style and work.
In this post, I will be talking about different types of painting mediums normally seen in art. I will give a short introduction to the medium, its ingredients, the basic material needed to get started and the pros and cons of each medium.
This medium is fast drying, water-soluble in liquid state and water-resistant when dried. By varying the ratio of acrylic paint and water, acrylic painting can have results similar to watercolour or oil painting. Acrylic paints are usually water-based, meaning soluble in water. Depending on the concentration of acrylics in water, the drying time of acrylic paint can vary from a few minutes to a few days.
- Acrylic binder
While mixed with water, the binder and pigments are suspended in water. As water evaporates out of the mixture, the pigments and binder bonds together, forming a solid layer. This is why acrylic paint should be stored in closed containers to prevent them from drying.
You will need a few materials to start painting with acrylic paint, the basic ones you’ll need are:
- Acrylic paint
- Support: canvas, paper, board
- A palette or some containers to pour paint into.
- Some water
You can paint with acrylics straight out of the tube, it can create a painterly effect like oil painting. You can also add mediums or water to dilute the paint to make them thinner.
Remember to keep your paint which you’ve squeezed out on a palette wet to prevent them from drying during your painting process
Pros and cons
- Fast drying. Unlike oil paints, they can dry very fast. So you can apply new layers without having to wait for too long.
- Non-toxic. No harsh chemicals since you can just mix the paint with water.
- Fast drying. Some people like to work slow using certain painting technique that only works for slow drying mediums. In this case, oil painting may be a better option. However, there are mediums out there that you can get to slow down the drying time of acrylic paint.
When you see or hear ‘oil painting’, you’d automatically think of all the great artworks done by many masters in the past. To those who’ve never tried oil painting before, they’d normally associate oil painting with messy workplaces and complicated procedures. However, that’s not (entirely) true. Oil painting is one of my favourite mediums and I’ve written a post on oil painting for beginners here.
- Drying oil, usually linseed oil
The thickness or the consistency of the paint can be changed by adding solvents like turpentine for smoother application of paint.
The basic materials you need to start oil painting are:
- Oil paint
- Canvas/ board
- Solvents like turpentine
- Optional: mediums to change the drying time or finish of the painting.
There are different mediums you can use to make the paint dry faster or slower depending on your prefered working pace.
When you are done with a painting and it’s completely dried, you can cover the whole painted area with a layer of varnish for better protection and different types of finishes (eg: glossy or matt finish).
Pros and cons
- Slow drying time. Good for people who like to work slowly
- Forgiving. It is easy to correct any mistakes you’ve done due to the slow drying time, you can simply wipe it off and repaint the area.
- Slow drying time. Sometimes you will have to wait for days for a layer of paint to dry before you can start working on a new layer.
- Solvents may contain smelly and toxic chemicals in them, need to work in a well-ventilated room. There are also variations of solvents that contain less chemical and are gentler on the nose.
As the name suggests, watercolour is literally painting with coloured water! They are compressed pigments in high concentration, so are small in size. They are good for painting outdoors due to their ease of carrying. All you need is a paintbrush and some water to activate the pigments. There are even brushes that can hold water in them, making it even more convenient to paint outdoors with watercolour.
- Binder to hold the pigments
- Additives to control properties
Water is used to activate and dissolve the bound pigments. You can adjust the transparency of the paint strokes by changing how diluted the pigments are in water.
The basic materials you’ll need to start watercolour painting are:
Pros and cons
- Easy to carry around, good for outdoor painting
- Easy to clean up.
- Cheap to start out
- Difficult to control. It can be hard to work with and difficult to control the amount of water in your brush
- Can wrap the paper if too much water is used
Also known as opaque watercolour, Gouache may be an unfamiliar term to you. It is similar to watercolour, but less transparent; like acrylic paint, but less opaque. Like watercolour and acrylics, water is used to to activate the paint. Gouache is like the middle of watercolour and acrylic paint. Painting in gouach will result in a matt finish.
- Chalk (increases opacity)
Some basic materials you’ll need to start painting in gouache are:
- Gouache paint
- Canvas/ paper
Pros and cons
- Dries quickly, less waiting time between new layers
- Can achieve the look of watercolour or oil paints
- Not water-resistant, dried gouache can be reactivated by water, thus proper framing and protection will be needed
- colours can get darker when it dries
Egg tempera has existed for a long time. They were there before oil painting was invented, it is one of the oldest painting mediums, used by a lot of great masters in the past. It is water-soluble. Most artists like to make their own egg tempera paint as it is very easy to make, the ingredients are easy to find. Being able to make them yourself also allow you to control its consistency.
- Egg yolk (act as a binder)
As you can see, the ingredients are pretty easy to find in our everyday life.
Some basic materials you’ll need to start painting with egg tempera are:
- Egg tempera paint
- Wood/ hard support
Pros and cons
- Very cheap, can make them yourself easily
- Permanent, will not yellow or change colour over time
- Brittle when dried, will flak off on a flexible surface like paper, must use a hard solid support
Ink is a medium used in various ways such as calligraphy, drawing and painting. You can use it straight from the bottle or dilute it with some water for more transparency. You can also smudge the painted ink using some water.
- Pigments/ dye
- Various solvents
Some materials you’ll need to start painting in ink:
There are also ink brush pens out there for more convenience
Pros and cons
- Easy to clean ( just use water! )
- Not good for fine details
- Ink will reactivate with water so much be framed/ kept your work properly.
So those are some of the different types of painting mediums that exist. They each have different properties and produces different results. Depending on the art style or look you are going for, a painting medium can make or break your artwork. Therefore, choose your painting medium wisely!
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