In a fine art context, "art medium" refers to the art materials or artist supplies used to create a work of art. Basically, it's whatever you use to make a mark upon a surface.
In this website, we'll focus on 6 popular drawing and painting mediums:
Click on a medium above to read an in-depth description and see examples of what you can achieve with that medium.
Each medium has its own particular characteristics and each requires its own techniques for creating art. If you've never used a particular art medium before, it's often helpful to read through a description of it first, as well as look at art that was made with that medium. That will help you decide whether it's something you'd like to try.
Below is a sample of artworks that I created using each art medium. This will give you a brief glimpse of what each medium can do. To see many more examples, click on each medium:
When you go to buy art supplies, you'll probably notice that a lot of mediums have at least two different ranges of materials: Student Quality and Artist Quality. If you're a total beginner, you may be tempted to buy the Student Quality artist supplies, because they are cheaper. While the cost does make them more appealing, you need to be aware that the Student Quality will generally not be as good as the Artist Quality art supplies. Therefore with the Student Quality range, you may not get the full experience of what you can achieve with that art medium, which can lead to frustration and disappointment if the materials don't work out quite as well as you'd hoped. Now, I'm not saying you should spring for the most expensive set of Artist Quality art supplies... you need to go with your gut feeling and what your wallet will allow for. It's just that the different levels in quality, as well as the price, are both factors to keep in mind when choosing art supplies.
tip: If you live in the US, and there is a Jo-Ann or Michaels near you, sign up for their mailing list. Every few weeks they send out coupons for 40-50% off. These coupons will save you a huge load, especially on higher-priced purchases. For instance, you could get a $120 box set of colored pencils for only $60 plus tax, using one of the 50% off coupons. Excellent!
if you're a bit stuck or overwhelmed at this point, read on...
* a quick art anarchist moment *
If you're brand-new to art, you may not know right away which art medium you'd like to try first. That's okay! There are endless ways to make art, which means that there are endless art materials to choose from. You can always start with the basic tools: a piece of paper and a pencil. Or a ball-point pen and the back of an envelope.
The main thing is that you just get started and have a lot of fun.
To begin with, it doesn't matter WHAT you use, but HOW you use it. I can't emphasize this enough. For example, there is a famous Japanese artist who displayed drawings that he made with colored pencils on the back of receipts. His show sold out and got written up in fancy art magazines. And what about Andy Warhol's scribbles on napkins that now sell for tens of thousands?
The point is: the tools for art-making are all around you. Anything goes. Just use what you've got!