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ART-icle of the Day! Different Mediums Used in Art

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

What are mediums?

Medium are materials used to create work of art, be it paintings, sculptures or anything in between. When visiting art museums or gallery, try looking a small card displayed at the bottom right of the art work. It will indicate the details of the painting including the type of medium(s) used in the artwork. For example, a painting might have listed 'oil on canvas' as a medium which means oil paint and canvas as a base has been use to complete the painting while a sculpture might be made of marble or steel. Try looking at the details of an art work the next time you visit a museum or an art exhibition gallery!

List of Mediums used in art


Watercolour is a type of art medium that has a translucent characteristic, meaning that you can see the texture of the paper that lies beneath the colours. As the name of the medium, water is use generously as a solvent for the facilitation of painting. Watercolours are difficult to work around and unforgiving at times. However, once mastered, the product of watercolour radiates a very satisfactory achievement. It is also commonly used as a professional medium in art.

Poster Colour

Poster colour is another medium that is commonly use in education or schools. There’s always a confusion between watercolour and poster colour. Comparison to water colour, poster colour is thinker and in terms of transparency, poster colour are opaque. It uses water as a solvent and emits a vibrant and strong colour while water colour is more transparent. Besides, poster colour generally come in bottles or mini jars. Poster colour techniques can be used in the same way as acrylic paint but it dries very much faster. However, poster colour mostly uses paper as a base while acrylic uses canvas as a base.

Oil Paint

When you think of oil painting, everyone can relate it to Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Oil paint has a long history dating back to the 12th century which has been used widespread in Europe and use till this very day. It is a type of slow-drying paint which is commonly accompanied by linseed oil as a slow drying agent of the paint when painting. This can be useful for artist to blend colours together or layer it with extra colours. Contrasting linseed oil, there's the turpentine which is use as a solvent and for cleaning brushes. Unlike the watercolour or poster colour, water does not dissolve in the oil paint because oil and water do not mix.


Acrylic is one of the newest medium used in art and is the more modernize medium use to replace oil paint. Unlike oil paints, acrylic dries faster and it is easier to handle as it use water as a solvent instead of oil. The colours comes of easily on smooth surfaces and can be peeled off like plastic or glue. Acrylic emits vibrant colours and are mostly thick. It can create effects similar to oil paint hence, it is widely use in the more recent years by professionals.

Oil Pastels

Oil Pastels, or also commonly known as wax oil crayon are generally used for simplicity colouring and are ideal for blending and layering. Oil pastel is a dry medium meaning it does not need a solvent to use it. This medium is common used in education sectors because of its easy to blend and control characteristics.

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