As a beginning artist the first thing you have to decide upon is what materials you will be working with. The options are almost unlimited if you keep an open mind and willing to try new things.
An important part of making art is to explore the unexplored and trying a new art medium from time to time can help to get your creative juices flowing again.
Trying something new might also help you find your unique art style.
This article features some of the most popular art mediums, so you can easily see which one suits you the best.
Art Mediums – Definition
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the meaning of an art medium is: “material or technical means of artistic expression (such as paint and canvas, sculptural stone, or literary or musical form)”.
So some examples of mediums used for art are colored pencils, acrylic paint and wood.
However, painting techniques can be completely different depending on what surface you are using. Acrylic painting on canvas or on wood are two different things.
That’s why sometimes art mediums are categorized not only on the primary material you are using but also the material the art is made from or made on, such as:
- Acrylic paint on canvas
- Acrylic paint on fabric
- Acrylic paint on wood
Types Of Mediums In Art
To give a quick overview, you can find a quick list of art mediums below. I tried to include all some common and tradition art mediums, and also mentioned some of my personal favourites.
But please note that it is impossible to mention every art medium out there. If you have a favourite medium that is not on the list, let me know!
Drawing is by far the most accessible art medium since pretty much everyone as some pencils and paper at home. Not surprisingly it’s the first form of art that we teach our children in school.
Although any pencils will do for beginners, you can transition to the more expensive professional pencils that give more vibrant colors when you want to take things more seriously.
Besides the standard charcoal pencil, you can also use pen and ink or markers for drawing.
- Colored pencils
- Ink markers
- Pen & Ink
Painting is just as common as drawing and easy to pick up. However, learning good painting technique can take quite some time. Moreover, there are many different types of paint and each of them is completely different.
Of course, besides the paint itself you will need some extra supplies such as paintbrushes, an easel and the right paper or canvas.
- Watercolor paint
- Acrylic paint
- Oil paint
- Watercolor pencils
3. Digital Art
In the past few decades many artists have made the transition from traditional art medium to digital. Instead of a mouse and keyboard, a drawing tablet is used as input device.
A good drawing tablet can accurately mimic the feeling of drawing with a pen of painting with a brush. Whereas some tablets need to be connected to the computer, more expensive tablet come with their own screen so you can draw directly on top of it.
Special digital drawing software is used in combination with the drawing tablet, because we all know that Microsoft Paint is just not cutting it. These programs are what makes working digitally so great. A quick undo button, layers you can change at any time and the free transform option are just a few features that will make use life much easier.
- Drawing tablet
- Drawing software
In contrast to the art mediums mentioned above, sculpture is a form of art that is 3 dimensional rather than just 2 dimensional and is normally made either by carving away small pieces from a big block or by modelling smaller pieces together.
These sculptures can be made from many materials such as wood, glass, clay, metal, and stone. I’ll just focus on the first three, since they are the most accessible for beginners (and are the only ones I have tried personally).
With wood carving you start with a big block of wood and you slowly remove pieces of wood using a sharp knife or chisel.
There are many forms of wood carving such as whittling, chip carving, etc. All of them require different tools and techniques. As a beginner you’ll probably start making small figurines using a whittling knife.
Not all types of wood are suitable for wood carving. Different types of wood can be roughly classified as either hard wood or soft wood. Obviously the soft wood is easier to work with and more suitable for beginners.
Once you finished your sculpture, you can further decorate it by painting on it, lightly burn it, varnish it, etc.
- Carving knife
- Pyrography pen
Glass being a hard yet brittle materials can’t be carved as easily as wood. Hit is too soft and nothing happens; hit it too hard and it shatters into thousands of pieces.
Instead glass art is normally made by fusing different pieces together or by melting the glass completely and pouring it in mould. This of course takes very high temperatures so normally a kiln is required. If you don’t want to buy a big kiln from the start, you can go with a cheaper microwave kiln. Unfortunately, these aren’t as reliable as the as a real kiln though.
If you don’t want to work with high temperatures, you can still try your hands at glass windows. These can be made by connecting different pieces of stained glass together by soldering pieces of came.
- Stained glass
- Glass cutter
- Glass grinder
- Soldering iron
Turning clay into cups, pots, vases, etc. has been a worldwide practice for centuries. Not surprisingly pottery has turning from a humble profession into a form of art.
Normally a pottery wheel is used to shape the clay to the desired shape. Due to the continuously rotating wheel it becomes easy to make a radially symmetric shape. Although these wheels used to huge and expensive, it’s not too hard to find a decently priced model for home use nowadays.
After moulding the clay into the right shape, it will need to be fired at high temperatures to harden the clay. After the clay cooled down you can decorate it by carving, painting, applying a glaze, etc.
Although many styles have developed over the years there is still plenty of room to let out and show your own creativity. If you are looking for a different medium of art that is not only beautiful but also practical, then pottery might be the right option for you.
Different Art Mediums
Besides the different art mediums mentioned above, there are many more materials that can be used to create art. Some more examples include weaving, paper crafts, candle making, etc.
However, since these are normally not considered to be one of the traditional art mediums and for the sake of brevity I decided not to include them in the list.
But if you are still interested, here are a few articles you might want to read as an introduction:
- Most important weaving patterns and techniques
- Best leather tooling kit for beginners
- Kits for making candles at home
- Best die cutting machine
If you are still hesitant to start, you might want to read my article explaining why making art is important.