How to Choose an Art Medium for Beginning Artists

By Alina Bradford

Choosing an art medium can be a challenge for a beginning artist because there are so many. A walk through an art supply store can be exciting, or overwhelming, depending on how prepared the new artist is to purchase new paints, pencils or art pastels. Quality art supplies is a big investment, and the money should be spent on a medium the artist will enjoy. To figure this out, there are several factors, such as easy clean-up, portability and desired results that should be considered.

Art Supplies for the On-the-Go Artist

New artists that like to create art in different locations or in the spur of the moment need art mediums that travel well and are easy to clean up. For this type of artist, colored pencils, watercolors or graphite are the best choices.

Colored pencils and graphite easily fit into a backpack along with a pencil sharpener, eraser and a sketchbook, so they can go anywhere, fast. Watercolors can be purchased in small, travel friendly pans, they dry quickly and clean up with water, making them the number one paint choice for plein air art and traveling artist.

To learn more about these types of art mediums see:

Art Mediums for the Painter

For beginning artists that dream of painting the next masterpiece, of course paints are the obvious medium option, but there are many types of paint to choose from. Here is a breakdown of the most common artist paints:

Oil Paint- Oil paints are slow drying; this means that mistakes can be easily corrected. They have a creamy feel and can be layered numerous times. To learn more about oil paints read Oil Painting Tips and Terms.

Acrylic Paints- Acrylics are water based paints that dry quickly and clean up with soap and water. This medium can easily mimic watercolor and oil paints simply by adding more or less water. To learn more about acrylic painting read Acrylic Painting for Beginners.

Watercolor Paints- This is the fastest dying paint. These paints come in two types: transparent and opaque. Watercolor artist like this painting medium because it is often unpredictable and it can be layered to create luminescent images.

Painting with Dry Media

Many new artists think that paintings must be done with wet media. Not true. There are several types of dry art media that are used for painting, such as:

Soft Pastel- Soft pastel is pure pigment mixed with binders and molded into sticks. Pastel can be layered to create various effects that mimic wet media. To learn more about soft pastels read How to Use Soft Art Pastel.

Oil Pastels- This type of pastel leaves rich strokes that look like oil paints. They can also be layered or used in conjunction with wet media. To learn more about oil pastels read How to Use Oil Pastels.

Dry media painting is a good choice for the artist that likes drawing, but wants to create painterly pieces.

Most artists will find that one or two mediums fit well with a certain style depending on its characteristics. Considering the uses of each art medium is a good way for new artists to choose a direction in fine art.