• Carolyn Land

How Do You Choose?

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”                                                 Anonymous

Someone this week asked: How do you choose a medium if you have never done art before?  That is a good question.  I would say, if you are starting out, you look at a lot of art, and find a sampling of what you like, and what you would like to learn, then find out what medium was used to do the pieces that appeal to you.   Do a search on the internet to learn about that medium. Watch a few “YouTube” videos, then get a few supplies to play with, and I do mean play.

If you think you want to use watercolor, buy 4 small tubes of it:  a dark, a red, a yellow, and a blue, (adding water makes your light) a pad of watercolor paper, and one medium sized watercolor brush. Learn to mix your colors.  Put them on dry paper and put them on wet paper, learn to use the side of your brush and the tip of your brush. Find out what happens if you add more water or use less water. Practice making strokes, and dabs. Just, PLAY with the medium.  If it is acrylic you are interest in, do the same, but you will need 5 tubes of paint.  A dark and a light, and the three primary colors. This is also true if you want to change mediums and try something new. After you have a little playtime under your belt, then sign up for a course.

Let me say, the quickest way to fail, is to have a preconceived picture in your head of what you want to paint. You need the experimental playtime first.  You must be adventurous when starting something new.  When you know how the medium works, then you can start painting pictures. Start by mixing your own colors.  If you like the medium, then you can add to your supplies, and incrementally work up to the best supplies.  In the long run good supplies do make a difference. The brand and type however, that is right for one person, may not be right for another. It is wasteful to have a bunch of supplies that you will never use, because they just don’t work for you.

Pstelpainting by FL artist Carolyn Land

A New Day Dawns


Every medium has its advantages and dis-advantages. I love pastels and discovered them rather late in my “art life”.  I posted two pastels on Facebook this past week. One person commented that they were very hard to work with.  Yes, they are, because they are messy and dusty.  But, I love the affects you can get with them.

I mentioned a few weeks ago, and again today, that you can limit your supplies.  I said, I basically do all my paintings and collage work, using only 6 colors. That is true. I found the ones that work for me.  But when it comes to pastels it is a whole different story!  Some are hard, some very soft, and then there are the mediums and the different shapes. Each summer I go about getting my pastels in order, cleaning them, and arranging my two boxes by value: No, I don’t just have 6 colors! Yes, you can mix them, but not like paint.

Pastel Boxes – One for Travel One for Home


I have learned to cut down on the dust by doing a watercolor underpainting, so I use less. I also found that wearing gloves saves my fingers, and wet ones makes for an easy clean up. A micro fiber towel cleans the pastels up easily, they don’t stain your clothes like paint, and you don’t need a lot of extra supplies. They are pretty straight forward…you draw with them: abstract or realistic.  The only drawback I find now is, they do need to be framed, not like the new wood panels I have discovered for my other work!

Bright colors or dark ones, sparkling clarity or misty atmosphere, landscape, still life, portrait – I haven’t met a subject, style, or mood yet that can’t be portrayed beautiful in pastel.”                                         Dave Beckett 

Everyone must find what medium works best for them and the style they are most comfortable with. Just remember to start out simple.  You can always add more.  Artists, I have found over the years, are very generous people.  Ask a friend if you can try a little of this or that.

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