Different Types of Art Mediums

An art medium is any material used in art projects like sculpting, painting and sketching. Art medium options are limited only by the artist's imagination and can range from common oil paints to less mainstream choices, such as playing cards, fabric or even pieces of garbage.

Possibilities for art mediums are endless (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)


Pastels (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Pastels are an art medium used in drawings and paintings. They are available in three varieties: hard, soft and pastel pencils. Artists use pastels by drawing or smudging them onto textured paper. Smooth paper is a poor choice for this medium, as the pastels cling easily to rough surfaces but smear off of smooth ones. The primary benefit of pastels in color paintings and drawings is their blending ability. Artists smudge the colors by finger or blending stick onto the paper. Soft pastels are for covering large surface areas with color, whereas hard pastels and pastel pencils are for fine detailing. It is possible to blend all three pastel variations together seamlessly.


Ink (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Probably the cheapest, most low-maintenance art medium used in drawings (aside from pencils) is ink. Artists have employed everything from ballpoint pens to India ink for projects such as comic-book printing, drawings and print. Graphic pens filled with ink are a popular choice for black-and-white sketches, although colored ink pens are available as well. India ink is a mixture of a type of soot (lampblack) and water, often used for covering large surface areas. Usually, it is purchased in a liquid form with a dropper for releasing the ink; however, there are some solid forms available in sticks and pencils.


Clay (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Clay is an art medium used in projects ranging from sculpting to fine-art ceramics. The use of clay as an art medium began in approximately 25,000 BCE, when a sculptor in what is now the Czech Republic created The Venus of Dolní Vestonice, a nude female statuette. Clay comes in a broad array of colors, from the basic natural shades to silver, gold and bronze. According to Visual Art Corks, an Internet art resource, the four-step process for working with clay is forming, firing (baking in a pottery kiln), glazing and then re-firing to complete the process by hardening the glaze.

Mixed Media

Mixed Media (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

In mixed-media art creations, the artist uses more than one art medium for the project. A painting that contains oil paints, ink and pastels, for example, would be considered "mixed media." Many artists choose to create their designs using both basic art materials, such as paints and pencils, and more unconventional items, such as painted gears, origami (Japanese folded paper), old vinyl records and more.

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