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Art exists in many different forms, from sculptures to canvases. There is a huge variety of art materials available, each with its own unique applications and techniques. The sheer amount of different art materials can be intimidating, especially for those who have just started drawing. As a traditional artist, I’m here to guide you through some of my favorite art mediums and what to expect:  

Watercolor

Watercolors have a beautiful flowing and smokey quality. They are amazing for pure abstract expression and for when you want to put blobs of color down on the paper. When using watercolors, make sure your palettes and brushes are clean so the colors don’t become muddy. Good water control also affects how your artwork turns out. Too much water may cause the watercolor to bleed into undesirable areas. Overall, watercolors are a great way to learn color theory and see how colors blend into each other!

Color Pencil

Color pencils are easily the most versatile mediums available as they are perfect for beginners and experts alike. Color pencils are perfect for detail work and small refinements. When combined with other mediums, they can be used to emphasize shadows and highlights. Color pencils are one of my favorite mediums for realistic and hyperrealistic art. Check out @willeys_art, an artist who specializes in beautiful color pencil figure studies!

Soft “Chalk” Pastel

Soft pastels have a crumbly chalk-like quality that allows for extensive color blending. However, many people have a tendency to over blend, leaving the artwork textureless. When used properly, chalk pastels give a beautiful grainy look, such as in @marinayukish’s beautifully rendered watermelon sketch. When working with soft pastels, have a bottle of fixative spray ready as the pastels smudge and smear easily.

Acrylic

For many of my larger projects, acrylics are my first choice! Acrylics are fast-drying paints that are water-soluble when wet and water-resistant when dry. This allows for detailed layer work, as you don’t have to worry about smudging or accidental blending. Likewise, if you make a mistake, you can easily cover it up with a layer of fresh acrylic paint. 

Mixed Media

After familiarizing yourself with different mediums, a fun way to spice things up is to use multiple mediums at the same time! Using multiple mediums allows you to create an enormous variety of textures and detailed work. Sometimes, a particular effect can only be achieved through one medium and not others, making it necessary to use more than one medium. 

For those of you who have just begun art, experimentation with different mediums will help you develop your own unique style! Remember, art takes practice and patience, so don’t be discouraged and have fun with it! 

Lily Huang

Rutgers '23

Lily Huang is a sophomore attending Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She is currently majoring in Anthropology and Biology. In her free time, she loves cooking, painting, and playing with her cats.
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