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What To Keep In Mind While Switching To New Art Mediums

Introduction To Art Mediums

Anything can be used to create art. You may have seen artwork made from trash, household items, leaves, and other unconventional materials. Art mediums are, simply put, the materials that you use to create art. Art mediums vary in shape, size, consistency, and colour and can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. The medium you choose affects the techniques you use to make art. After all, a three-dimensional medium like clay is completely different from two-dimensional mediums like acrylic, gouache, etc.

Are you looking to try new art mediums or switch them up completely? The skills you’ve picked up while learning a particular medium might also apply to others. Join Rooftop in exploring two-dimensional art mediums and what to remember while switching to new ones.

Easy Transitions Between Similar Art Mediums

Art mediums
Different art mediums are used in different ways (image source:

While switching between different art mediums, you may notice that they all share certain similarities as well as certain differences. Understanding these in detail will help you quickly adapt to a new medium. Once you’ve thoroughly learned an art medium, it’s easier to switch to others that are similar. Here’s a list of similar art mediums that are easy to switch between:

1. Dry Art Mediums: Graphite, Coloured Pencils, Watercolour Pencils

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Dark to light shades of graphite pencils (image source:

These mediums are dry and in pencil form. While individual techniques may differ, these mediums have many elements of similarity that make it easier for artists to switch from one to the other or combine them as mixed media. You can buy graphite in stick or pencil form in varying levels of ‘hardness’. Its monochrome grey tones range from 9H (light) to 9B (dark).

Art mediums
Watercolour pencils are water-activated (image source:

If you know how to use graphite or coloured pencils, watercolour pencils can be an introduction to wet mediums. You can use these pencils as coloured pencils or activate them as watercolour by adding water to the coloured surface.

2. Waterproof, Quick-Drying Art Mediums: Acrylic And Ink

Acrylic is a quick-drying, opaque paint medium that doesn’t require solvents. It is cheap and easy to use for beginners. We can dilute ink with water during application and it is waterproof when dry. It can also be thickened with gel to create more texture. Ink is water-soluble so you can it mix it with water and use it as a wash, similar to watercolour.

Also read: A guide to caring for your Acrylic Paintings

Good-quality drawing ink is usually completely waterproof when dry. India ink and Sumi ink are two traditional ink varieties that are still extremely popular today. Acrylic and ink paintings are permanent once they dry. Using pens and ink may require a lot more drawing than painting. It is different from other art mediums and can be tricky to master. Colourful painting inks are available in opaque as well as transparent formulas. You can choose to use pens, brushes, or ingenious brush pens to figure out what works best for you.

3. Water-Soluble Paint Art Mediums: Watercolour, Gouache

These mediums have a liquid consistency. Watercolour is a translucent or semitransparent paint medium that is water-soluble. Gouache is an opaque watercolour that dries matte. It has a thicker consistency and contains more pigment. It is easier to correct mistakes in gouache because of its opaque finish. Watercolour and gouache do not dry waterproof, which means that water can be added to a dried painting to paint over it or correct mistakes.

Gouache is an especially forgiving medium, as it combines the versatility and ease of use of watercolour with a matte finish. If you know one of these art mediums, it will be easy to transition to the other. You may also be successful in switching to ink or incorporating it into other art mediums. Ink can be both opaque and transparent, but unlike gouache and watercolours, you cannot reactivate it with water once it’s dry.

4. Advanced Art Mediums: Oil Paints And Egg Tempera

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The Harvest, Mere Down, egg tempera painting by James Lynch (image source:

Tempera paints dry super quickly, so we do not recommend them to beginners. Egg yolk is commonly used as a binder, which gives tempera paintings a yellowish hue. They are not waterproof and can be reactivated with water even after drying. They are cheap and may be easy to transition to if you know how to use quick-drying acrylic paints or are accustomed to the complicated process of using oil paints. Tempera paint dries opaque and matte and can be painted in thin layers. Most artists today prefer to work with oil paints instead. Tempera painting techniques were used to create the Ajanta cave paintings.

Also read: A Peek Into History: Inside The Caves Of Ajanta

Oil paints dry in glossy, transparent layers and artists love them for their vibrant colours. Oil paintings can be sensitive to temperature and humidity, and oil paint solvents emit fumes that may be toxic. Make sure to check your solvents carefully and wear gloves and a mask for added protection. Oil painting is very different from painting with acrylic colours and watercolours. If you plan on making the switch to oil paints, be aware that the paint may not react in ways that you’re accustomed to. Oil paints take much longer to dry than other types of paint, which makes it easier for you to add details and correct mistakes. You may have to handle substances such as linseed oil, flaxseed oil, and turpentine, and use them as paint mediums and solvents.

Art Mediums: Switching From Wet To Dry

If you’re used to working with wet mediums, you may find yourself missing the familiar feeling of adding solvent or medium to your paints. You do not need to add binders or ‘paint medium’ to dry art mediums. A paint medium is a substance that is mixed into paint to change its consistency or drying time. Dry mediums are also not water-soluble, except for ink and watercolour pencils. We can use dry mediums with or without water. Watercolour pencils can be used as paint by activating the dry pigment on the paper.

Art Mediums: Switching From Dry To Wet

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Graphite pencils are a dry art medium (image source:

A major difference between dry and wet mediums is the use of paint mediums or solvents. You can use water to thin watercolours, acrylics, and gouache. Paint mediums are also used to change consistency. Wet art mediums require the use of brushes over pen or pencil-shaped tools. It’s okay if your colours don’t look right at first. Take the time to understand the medium you’re using and learn some basic techniques. Also, spend some time learning about different types of brushes and how to use them.

Mixed Media: Combining Multiple Art Mediums

Leonardo Da Vinci combined Tempera and oil painting techniques in The Last Supper (image source:

Many artists do not use a single medium in their art and combine two or more art mediums to create delightful artwork that is inspired and unconventional. For example, different paint mediums can be used on the same canvas. Ink and acrylics can be used over watercolour and gouache paintings due to their opaque nature. You can mix tempera and oil paints together, following in the footsteps of Leonardo Da Vinci.

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This Company style painting integrates the use of opaque watercolour with gold
(image source:

Traditional Indian art forms often use a mixture of various mediums to achieve beautiful results. Pigments made from rice paste, turmeric, indigo, coal, etc. are mixed with natural binders and used to paint. Tanjore paintings combine the use of cheap materials such as tamarind seed powder and chalk paste with expensive gold leaf to create gorgeous art pieces. Don’t be afraid to experiment with mediums and art styles to find your unique artistic voice.

Download the Rooftop App from Google Play or the App Store to learn new art mediums through traditional art forms.

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By Melissa D’Mello

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