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What Is A Medium In Art?

When you were a child, you drew houses, people, flowers, and animals with your wax pencils. Then, in high school, you discovered ink and moist colors. Slowly, you switched to oil pastels, acrylic paints, and liners. All of these art supplies are called mediums. Each artistic medium has its characteristics and requires special skills to reach the desired results. They create different moods, have diverse textures, and address various creative needs. Mediums are not just tools – they help artists make a statement. Everything can become one, even a heap of rubbish.

In relation to art, this word has two major contrasting, also somewhat confusing, definitions. Painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking are all media of art in the context of a form of art: however, the designation can also allude to the components from which the work is produced.

The more you know about the properties of various mediums, the wider your artistic horizons are. In this article, we will discuss the most common materials to see which suits you best.


Watercolors have one main characteristic: they are unpredictable. Once the paint is already on the paper, it is hard to change the way it is going to disperse. This feature is double-sided. Depending on your skills and artistic courage, unpredictability can become a powerful tool or an uncontrollable disaster.

Watercolors produce a beautiful effect when they are mixed. Such paintings look flimsy and mesmerizing. Artists use them to create pictures that don’t require a high level of precision, like natural landscapes or abstractions.


Chalk pastels are great for creating textures, blending colors, and layering. This medium in art is known as luminous and tender. The powder used for pastel pencils and chalks is a pigment itself, that is why the colors are deep, and the effect is stunning.

There are hard and soft pastels, depending on the amount of binder they include. Those that have less binders are rounded and soft. They are great for large surface coloring. Hard pastels include more binder, and they are usually used to create precise details. Pastels are used for sketches as well as full-on paintings. Using this medium, you can create luminous and rich pictures. Just don’t forget about proper ventilation – the pastel dust can cause health troubles!


Ink is a convenient and affordable art medium. It comes in the form of a graphic, fountain, drawing, reed, and drafting pens. Also, ink goes as paint in small bottles. It can be used for drawing as well as calligraphy and writing! This medium is more diverse and multifunctional than you might think. Using the liquid ink, you can draw with brushes, feathers, and everything you find near at hand, including wooden sticks, cotton-wool, fabric, and even your own fingers. The choice depends on what you want to create and which style you are following. Ink can be used for both: detailed and watery pictures.

When working with ink, you have to mind the blank space. Pay attention to the counter-form, since it is no less important than the form.


Colored pencils are considered as the medium for kids, but this is not true! There is no such thing as a “childish” medium because everything depends on how you use it. Pencil artwork gains more and more attention among professional artists, collectors, and galleries these days. It has great creative potential and allows for deep and luminescent pictures. High-quality pencils for professional artists can make your drawings smooth and gradient. You can sharpen your pencils to draw the smallest details or blend the colors to get a paint-like effect. You are welcome to use them for a great diversity of styles, including realism, whimsical, composite, and abstraction.

Mixed media

The mixed-media technique incorporates a combination of media, assembling pencils, paints, crayons, pastels, oils, and other instruments together in a unique way. This technique is enjoyable because it can take numerous forms, and there are no limits for your imagination here.

To use this method, you should be aware of the properties and “behavior” every chosen medium has. Be sure that the basic layer will accept and handle the next ones. Before you start making an artwork, you should test how the media work together on rough work. Mind that not only the types of media matter, but the succession plays a great role. For example, pencils on watercolor paint look absolutely different than watercolor paint laid on pencils. Do experiments on the small piece of paper to know what to expect from the materials mixed together.


Art comes in all shapes and sizes! Different art mediums allow artists to reach a particular effect, convey their message, and establish a certain atmosphere in their works. Some are perfect for uplifting sunny landscapes, the others are great to recapture the obscure and mysterious mood. You can create luminous and airy pictures with watercolors and pastels, draw precise and detailed works with ink, or mix different mediums to get the best of each. There is no such thing as “the best medium.” Everything depends on your preferences, ideas, and creative objectives. Try them all and choose the one you like! Happy drawing!


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