Paint Media Types

  • Oil: Usage dates back to the 7th century with its popularity increasing during the Renaissance. Requires the application of paint in layers, allowing ample drying time between. Transmits rich, luminescent colours.

  • Acrylic: A versatile medium, fast-drying, and can mimic the effects of both oil and watercolour paints. Mainstay since the mid-20th century.

  • Watercolour: Delicate, transparent medium primarily made of pigment and gum arabic. Historically used for landscape and portraiture, it requires careful control of water usage.

  • Tempera: Age-old medium using egg yolk as a binding agent. Delivers a matte finish and historically used for religious iconography.

  • Gouache: Heavily pigmented watercolour and opaque. Usually applied in a solid colour, providing a flat, smooth finish.

Tools & Techniques

  • Brushes: Extremely versatile, coming in various shapes (flat, round, filbert), sizes, and bristle types (synthetic, hog, sable) each offering unique stroke characteristics.

  • Palette knives: Useful for applying paint in thick layers (impasto technique) or for mixing colours on the palette.

  • Glazing: A technique where thin, transparent layers of paint (usually oil or acrylic) are applied on top of previous layers for a rich, luminous effect.

  • Scumbling: Involves brushing a thin layer of lighter, opaque paint onto a dry, darker layer underneath. This adds depth and complexity to the artwork.

  • Gradients: Essential skill for creating three-dimensional effects, shading and highlighting. Smooth gradation of colours is often achieved with wet blending or layering techniques.

Understanding Colour

  • Primary Colours: Red, blue, and yellow – cannot be created by mixing other colours.

  • Secondary Colours: Green, orange, and purple – made by mixing two primary colours.

  • Tertiary Colours: Result of mixing a primary colour with its closest secondary colour.

  • Complementary Colours: Opposite each other on the colour wheel, they provide contrast when used together and create greys or browns when mixed.

  • Colour Harmony: Techniques for selecting colours that look good together, including analogous colours (next to each other on the colour wheel), monochromatic (different shades of a single hue), or triadic (three colours evenly spaced on the colour wheel).

Understanding Composition

  • Rule of Thirds: Imaginary grid line that helps in dividing the canvas into nine equal parts, helping to achieve a balanced composition.

  • Golden Ratio: An irrational number (approximately 1.618) used in many artworks to create aesthetically pleasing compositions.

  • Focal Point: Area of the painting meant to draw the viewer’s attention.

  • Positive and Negative Spaces: The balance between the area occupied by primary objects (positive) against the background or empty spaces (negative).

  • Perspective: The technique used to represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface, giving the illusion of depth or distance.

  • Proportion: The relationship of one part of the composition to the other parts in terms of size and positioning.

Remember that these tools, techniques, and concepts are building blocks. A painter’s skill lies in the ability to combine them creatively!