10 Types of Painting Mediums Used by Different Artists

10 Types of Painting Mediums Used by Different Artists

Jul 11, 2023

Artists utilize one or more painting mediums to create stunning artworks. A medium refers to what material a work of art is made of. Each of these art mediums can produce a distinctive style. While there are plenty of choices, several mediums have been popular among painters to express their creativity.

There are different types of painting mediums being used by artists. The wide range of selections allows for more flexibility in terms of what materials to use in an art piece. Here are 10 types of painting mediums that you should be familiar with. 


10 Types of Painting Mediums


1. Oil Painting

Oil painting is one of the oldest painting mediums in the world. Some of the popular paintings were created using oil paints. Although they dry slowly, the finished artwork has a deep, rich color with a distinctive smell that comes from linseed, poppy seed, walnut, or safflower oils that were utilized within the paint. Oil paints can stay wet for several days or weeks due to their naturally thick and buttery consistency. The slow drying property of oil paint enables artists to blend a variety of colors on the canvas and easily change their paintings by adding more layers until the paint finally dries up.


2. Watercolor Painting

Watercolor painting is used by landscape painters who want to create soft changes between colors in their artworks. This paint medium has a transparent appearance and takes a long time to dry. The amount of water you add to the mixture determines how luminous the paint will become. More water will make the paint more transparent. Watercolor painting is a good choice for beginners although it is not one of the easiest painting mediums to learn. Using watercolors can sometimes be a bit complicated for first-time users. Mistakes are hard to correct due to the colors’ transparent nature. Remember to paint from light to dark when using watercolors.

3. Acrylic Painting

Acrylic painting is a fairly new medium compared to other painting mediums like oil painting. It is suitable for artists who work fast since the paint dries fast. Acrylic paint can work on canvas, paper, or wooden panels using synthetic brushes. It is one of the well-known painting mediums especially for beginners since it is easy to use and less expensive. Acrylic paints do not need special brushes or cleaning tools. You can dissolve the paint with a little water before applying it to your painting. You can add textures and depth to your artwork by applying layers of acrylic paint until you reach the desired appearance. Add more water if you want to create a matte look.

4. Pastels

Pastels are used for drawing and painting. They are made from dry, powdered pigment that is held together with a binder. The type and quality of the pigment affect the color of the pastel. There are also two types of pastels: oil pastels and soft pastels. 

Oil pastels are made from an oil binder while soft pastels come from gum arabic and chalk. Pastels have a variety of colors. On the other hand, if you are thinking about which painting mediums to try, soft pastels are a great option for your artwork. They are easy and fun to use. Just apply the dry sticks directly to the paper or canvas that you are working on. You can even use your fingers or different pastel tools that you have to produce your desired effects. Smudging and blending can be done with soft pastels which are very color-saturated since they contain a high amount of pigment.


5. Tempera

Tempera is one of the types of painting mediums that has been used for centuries because of its fast-drying ingredients and long-lasting pigments. It is also called an egg tempera since it is made of pigments that are attached to a water-soluble emulsion like that of an egg yolk. Tempera paint dries to a matte finish. It can also crack if it is applied very thickly or undergoes temperature changes. Despite these disadvantages, tempera paint is easy to clean because it is water-soluble. It is also possible for you to paint more layers in one session since it dries quickly.


6. Encaustic

Encaustic paints are made from beeswax and color pigments. The wax is melted, mixed with the pigment, and later cooled and re-melted to produce a compact block of paint. Unlike other painting mediums, encaustic is capable of being polished to a high gloss. It can be modeled, sculpted, and mixed with other mixed-media works. You can apply encaustic paint to a surface with heat with the use of a brush, palette knife, or other tools. Always keep the wax molten while you are working. A heat gun or other heating element is necessary if you are doing encaustic painting. The wax can be molded or sculpted once it is applied to the surface.


7. Gouache Painting

Gouache painting is one of the easiest types of painting mediums to learn for beginners. It is water soluble so it is simple to clean the materials with water. Gouache is easier to paint because of its opaqueness. The paints have a consistency that enables you to apply solid colors one on top of the other to produce an opaque finish. Just remember that when painting with gouache, any layers that are added on top will react with the underlayers due to the water in the new layer. This may result in a much darker color in your artwork. You can use white paint to achieve a lighter tone.

8. Fresco

In fresco, artists apply pigment to wet plaster. Fresco painting is one of the three main painting mediums used during the Renaissance period together with Tempera and Oil Painting. Fresco was used to adorning the ceilings and walls of churches and other public buildings. Fresco means “fresh” in Italian. Artists typically apply frescoes on fresh plaster although a variation called secco fresco is used in which the artists paint the pigment on dry plaster. A mix of water and pigment is painted onto freshly laid wall plaster. As the plaster dries in the air, carbonation merges the pigments within the plaster.


9. Ink Painting

As one of the painting mediums, ink paintings are known for their simplicity and minimalism. The emphasis is on the beauty of the line and the smooth flow of the ink while painting. This is popularly used in Japan where an ink painting that uses mostly black ink is called sumi-e. 

Remember to premix the colors first on a palette before applying them to the paper. Ink can be diluted with water to achieve a lighter finish in your paintings. By using black and colored inks, artists can highlight different elements. The painting can look delicate or bold depending on how the ink is applied.


10. Digital Painting

Although it is not one of the traditional painting mediums, you can still use digital devices like iPad, computers, and graphics tablets to create paintings. There are also 2 in 1 tablets and laptops where you can draw right on the screen. There are available software programs that you can use to paint digitally. With Photoshop, you can download and modify brushes to imitate the texture and appearance of conventional painting mediums.


ALSO READ: The Essential Guide to Art Collecting for Beginners


Artists use various painting mediums to create beautiful and timeless works of art. These art mediums produce distinctive styles when painted either on canvas or paper. Some mediums like oil painting, tempera, and fresco have been around since the Renaissance period. While there are a variety of choices, some painting mediums are more frequently used by artists. It is not also impossible that one or more mediums are used for painting art creations.


Nami Art Gallery has a diverse collection of artworks from brilliant and contemporary artists who create high-quality and unique pieces. You can browse through a diverse range of painting mediums such as Acrylic on Canvas, Oil on Canvas, Pastel on Paper, and Watercolor on Paper, among others to find the artworks that suit your taste and preferences. 


Do you want to buy artwork of a particular medium to decorate your home? Nami Art Gallery can assist.



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