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Medium Well Done: 10 Acrylics
Traditional oil paints were the mainstay medium used by professional painters in the west from the Renaissance until the late twentieth century, a period of well over half a millenium. Although other media have been widely and successfully used, until recently the apparently infinite flexibility of effects and painting... Read more
Medium Well Done: 9 Ink and casein
Since ancient times, writing, drawing and paintings have been made using pigments and/or dyes in water, often without any binder as such. These are generically inks, which don’t conform to other media such as watercolours or the temperas. The most common among them is India ink, whose essential ingredients... Read more
Medium Well Done: 8 Crayons, oil pastels, and more
Professional painters have long used brushes to apply paint for their finished work, but many used hand-held sticks of pigment only when sketching in preparation. Charcoal was widely used at first, with metal wire in silverpoint an alternative. In the sixteenth century, large deposits of graphite were discovered in... Read more
Medium Well Done: 7 Pastels
Artists have long used chalks and similar solid media for drawing, but lacking any form of binding medium their only adherence to a ground is mechanical. They were thus only used for ephemeral work such as studies and cartoons used in the production of more permanent works. Leonardo da... Read more
Medium Well Done: 6 Oils
Since the decline of egg tempera as the preferred medium for easel paintings in the Renaissance, oil paints have dominated those used by professional painters. This is due to their longevity and versatility. When appropriate techniques are used, oil paintings readily survive over five hundred years, and are the... Read more
Medium Well Done: 5 Watercolour and gouache
Watercolour is the most inappropriately-named of the popular painting media. Oil paint uses drying oils as its binder, egg tempera uses the yolk of eggs, and glue tempera various types of glue. Water is, of course, not the binder in watercolour, but the diluent, used to turn blocks of... Read more
Medium Well Done: 4 Egg Tempera
If you’ve ever left plates coated with egg around for a while, you’ll know how difficult egg residue can be to remove. No one knows when people first took advantage of this in paints, but earliest surviving examples are from late classical times. By the Renaissance, egg yolk was... Read more
Medium Well Done: 3 Glue Tempera (distemper)
At some stage in the dim and distant past, our ancestors discovered that processing some natural products created glues. The raw materials either came from boiling animal bones, hide, and other offal, or from natural exudates of plants. In turn, these came to be used as the binder for... Read more
Medium Well Done: 2 Encaustic
In the distant past, fresco painting was all very good when you wanted to brighten up the walls or ceiling of a substantial building, and could afford to pay an artist handsomely for their labour. But there was also demand for smaller, more portable works of art. Some would... Read more
Medium Well Done: 0 Introduction and terminology
The overwhelming majority of paintings shown in articles here are made using oil paints on canvas, although some use wooden panels or copper plates instead. In this series of articles, I’m going to survey the different media used in painting, not just from a technical sense, but how choice... Read more