Painting Mediums

I’m not an expert in painting. But when I had the subject Humanities: Art Appreciation, I discovered different things; one of those things is about different painting mediums. This is just what I know about this topic. I’m actually not an “arty ” person or whatever. I’ll just share what I know about different painting mediums used.

Art, to be recognized as such, needs a medium. What is a medium? In art, medium is the material or means which the artist uses to make an art. There are various media used in painting. Oil, watercolour, acrylic, tempera, fresco, and encaustic are some.

Each medium has its own properties and effects. Some may have similar properties and effects but, in a way, each of them is unique. Their uniqueness are due to the color they produce, or the texture.

Oil paint is a slow drying paint that gives a glossy, smooth and translucent image if applied by building up layers of colours from dark to light using a fine brush. It can also add real surface texture to the image if applied using a larger brush or a palette knife. An example of oil painting is The Starry Night made by Vincent Van Gogh.

Watercolours are powdered pigments which are mixed with something that will help them adhere to a surface, like acacia gum. When applied with a soft brush, it will create a translucent wash of colours. I remember when I was a kid, I always waste our watercolours.

Acrylic paint is a quick drying paint, which is insoluble when dry, which is diluted with water and gives most of the effects that oil paints produce like the glossy finish. Some artists prefer using acrylic paint than oil paint because it has the advantage of not requiring turpentine as a thinning agent, which is toxic. Also acrylic paintings, unlike oil, don’t tend to crack or turn yellow or darken due to age.

Tempera is a mixture of mineral pigments and egg yolk and egg white, which quickly dries and makes corrections difficult to apply. Tempera paints are long lasting but it requires a stiff and hard base because painting it on canvas will cause cracks. It can be used on wood.

Fresco painting uses plaster damped walls as base and pigments with water as a binder. It is permanently fixed and last as long as the wall it is painted on exists. One example of a fresco painting is the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling made by Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.

Encaustic paint is one of the early mediums used in painting. It is a mixture of hot beeswax, resin and ground pigment to any surface. In the ancient times, it is used in commonly by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to paint portraits on coffins. It gives a great translucent effect when used properly.

Different mediums require technique to effectively produce the desired effect. Use their unique qualities wisely to create a beautiful masterpiece. Those are some mediums used in painting. Explore more and discover many.


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