Starting Out
Hints & Tips
Art Forum
Contact Me

Don't be afraid to try a different medium

We all start our art journey with a specific medium that we’ve chosen because it’s been recommended to us; because we know someone who uses it; because we like looking at paintings/drawings in that medium; or just because we think it looks like the easiest place to start. In my case I began with watercolours. Why? Because I read a book by Frank Clarke in which he claimed “anyone can paint” and it sounded fairly simple. It is … but it isn’t.

Over the years that I’ve had an Art Forum on my website, I’ve seen many people have-a-go with watercolours and seen how much they love the experience, improving with each painting they do. But I’ve seen others who have been displeased with their first results, and have given up art because they think they can’t paint. In my opinion, if you really want to draw/paint then there is always a way, it just doesn’t always happen first time.

Watercolour is, in my opinion, a great place to start because it doesn’t need a huge supply of materials and can be tried out very cheaply. It’s important to bear in mind that better results come from better supplies, but for that first toe-dip, cheap paper, paints and brushes are good enough. Trying out painting with watercolours couldn’t be simpler.

Oil and Acrylic paints offer the advantage of being able to paint over mistakes, something that is difficult with watercolours, but they are usually more messy to work with. Pastels, which also come in various types, is another medium with a reputation for being messy, but which produces great results in the right hands.

Some people get on much better with a pencil than a brush, and that opens up all sorts of other possibilities. Coloured pencils and Pastel pencils come in a wide variety of grades and styles and I’ve seen some people produce outstanding art even though they couldn’t get on with painting with brushes. And Pen and Wash (or Line and Wash) is a technique of using a Pen to produce an ink drawing before adding the paint, or vice versa, adding the ink lines to a loose painting in order to provide some extra detail.

The point I’m trying to make is that if your first attempt at producing a drawing or painting is not as good as you had hoped, don’t give up. Understand what you struggled with and what mistakes you made, and try again. And if you finally decide you really can’t do it, then try a different medium. Each medium is different from the others in the way it is applied and worked and you may just find that you have more success when you find the medium that suits you best.