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Your Career in Art - Which Medium is the Best?


The medium you choose defines you in the view of gallery directors and art collectors. It can make or break your chance to succeed.

Beginner artists often shy away from painting in oils. Like everyone else, they know this  medium was used by the Old Masters. So a belief persists that oil-painting is 'too difficult.' Reasons given to support this belief are many.

  1.  It takes too long to learn how to handle oil paint.
  2. You first have to learn all about the chemistry.
  3. You have to learn  how to stretch a canvas first.
  4. Oil paints are too expensive for a beginner.
  5. It's too messy and smelly, anyway.

Only the last belief holds any truth and only if you have no belief in yourself as a true artist with a desire to make your life – and, one day, your living – as a professional. But you're reading this, so I know you're on the brink of declaring your mission, at least to yourself. Let me help you in making this vital, first decision. In my opinion, oils on canvas  is best, for 2 reasons.

1. Oil paints are the easiest medium of all for beginners because of a little-known fact. An oil painting never dries completely, even after hundreds of years.

  • Mistakes can be corrected any number of times.
  • Advanced, specialised knowledge can be acquired over time. No one artist can ever know all there is to know about painting in oils, so be patient with yourself while you learn.
  • Oil paints can be bought in cheaper qualities for beginners. Oils can be used on panels of wood, MDF or even cardboard. Canvas boards are cheap at any art-supplies shop or your local shopping mall.
  • Solvents, i.e. turpentine or white spirits, come in odourless forms for sensitive noses. Paint carriers, (called 'mediums' in common usage) are available in newer, more stable  forms than old-style linseed and other oils.
  • Mess can be kept under control by getting into good work habits from the start.

2. Oil paintings on canvas are preferred by private galleries and collectors because they require  a degree of mastery by the artist and because their dollar values remain high on resale at auction.

  • Keep these advantages in mind before you settle on a choice of medium because the truth about a career in Art is this: your reputation in the art-world is as big as your price tag. The more money a collector pays for a painting, the more likely it is to be properly looked after. Conservation and restoration will someday be needed and neither comes cheap. If you care about longevity for your artwork, simply take note of the age of the masterpieces in oils on canvas by Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452-1519) or Velázquez( 1599-1660)or ( Rembrandt (1606-1669 ) that are held on view at art museums around the world.©Dorothy Gauvin

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