Common Paints used by Artists

News  •  Jul 01, 2011 10:40 SGT


The most commonly used painting medium, oil gives rich vivid colours and textural variation. Over long periods of time and especially without proper care, slow working chemical reactions will cause oil to fade and tend towards brittleness. Oil is still by far the oldest and most popular medium used.


Acrylic is highly resistant and does not seem to fade. A water-based, “modern” medium, acrylic is highly versatile and offers lower toxicity levels than oil.

Coupled with its lower cost and versatility acrylic is fast becoming a popular choice for artists today.


With a longer history than oil, watercolour offers luminosity and requires skill to use as mistakes are hard to cover. Mostly paired with paper, it is a comparatively perishable medium that is vulnerable to the elements. Modern pigments have increased the durability of watercolour.


Sharing the same water soluble properties with its Watercolour cousin, Gouache has a higher proportion of colour pigment and an additional white pigment added to it bound with liquid glue. Therefore, it is an “opaque watercolour” that does not rely on a white background.


Sometimes called poster colour, Tempera comprises of coloured pigments mixed with water and “tempered” with glutinous materials such as egg yolk which binds the paint together as it dries. Over the years, the paint becomes tough and insoluble.


Most artists use charcoal as a preliminary tool as it is vulnerable to smudges. Nevertheless, artists enjoy charcoal for its versatile ability to capture both gestures and emotions with an intuitive mixture of the soft and the dark.


The word “Pastel” comes from the paste made of pure and powdered colour pigment, which are moulded into stick form with minimal amounts of resin. Pastels do not mix well to create new colours and it can used more for quick sketches with a vivid and luminous appearance

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