Or… How to Choose a Creative Medium Without Freaking Out!
So you’ve put the creativity block monster back in the closet (or maybe you’ve kicked him out for good!) and you’re itching to get started. Good for you! You’re all fired up and ready… then out of no where – a percussion bomb goes off…
“How do I get started? What method do I choose – And when I choose one, How do I do it? What if I choose it and I suck at it!”
Before your world implodes again and you allow your creativity to sit on the shelf for another, oh I don’t know – 10 years! – take a deep breath and flick that little monster off your shoulder and put him in the same place you put the other one and say these words…
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is to begin.”
I’m certain if you’re reading this, that you’ve heard that one before – perhaps applied to a different subject. You’ve heard it before, because it’s true. Knowing this, doesn’t always help and if you have any pinch of perfectionism in you, you may need a little push – so here’s a shortcut:
Choose a medium based on your personality.
Huh? Give a go! Here, let’s try… do you like things to happen fast, get impatient and just want to get it done? You’re a shoe-in for acrylic or encaustic painting. Do you like to work carefully and blend colors together? You may discover oil painting as your favorite.
There are lots more examples and certainly not only one medium to choose, but if you allow yourself to start there, you will definitely give yourself a big leg-up for continuing to explore ways to express your creativity because you won’t be fighting the nature of the medium itself and chance becoming discouraged and quit altogether, the medium will more likely flow with you and you with it.
A medium is simply your tool to express the uniqueness that is within you and allows you to get it outside of yourself to share – so the world can be a better place.
Your first choice may not be a medium you end up with and you may find that you like and continue to use several different ones – there are an infinite number of tools to create with, from pencils and pens to resins, clay, salt, wax, plaster – keep it up and you may even discover another one!
Here’s an insider secret, most artists work with more than one medium! Sure, to create professionally, you will likely choose a focus, but that is not what we are talking about here.
So, back to the shortcut I promised earlier. A short list on matching your personality – or way you might like to express – with a medium:
- If you don’t like fuss with lots of supplies, travel a lot, have mini-moments to create try: Pencils, Pens, Charcoal, Conte, Ink Wash, Watercolors
- If you like to work carefully, are patient, like to think about your mark-making, don’t want the paint to dry too fast try: Oil Paints, Pencils, Pens, Charcoal, Conte, Watercolors, Oil or Chalk Pastels
- If like to work fast, are impatient for the next step, like lots of color choices try: Oil or Chalk Pastels, Acrylic, Encaustic
- If you like a smooth look, blended colors, realistic images – start with any in the first list but next try: Oil Paints
- If like texture, like to try putting objects or different things together, try: Acrylic, Encaustic
- Are you interested in exploring the foundation of the medium, the alchemy of the paint you work with? Read up on pigments and artist materials safety then try: Encaustic or Oil Paints
- If you find yourself interested in 3 – dimensional art, sculpture, carving, pottery try: Modeling Clay, Sculpting Wax
Did see anything you liked? As you read over the list, did you find yourself nodding your head or were you surprised and any matchings? I’d love to hear your findings on this!
If you still find yourself unsure or drawn to more than one medium and still can’t choose, that’s okay. You simply have a little more exploring to do – so get into your local arts shop and look at what’s available. There are good online stores too, but you really want to get your hands on the product, read the labels and suggestions offered by the manufacturers and even smell it! Also look at the various forms available. For example, oil paints can be used straight from the tube, thinned with oil, come in stick or pan form and even oil that are mixable with water.
Local art shops are a great resource also. Most often, the staff are artists or even art students who are actively working and many times, are the first to hear about new products from a manufacturer or can share interesting uses for traditional ones that they learn about or hear from customers. Chances are they have tried most mediums and a good number of tools in the store. They may have good tips companion products, such as supports, primers, glazes, thinners and cleaners appropriate for your medium and should also be able to steer you to local groups or classes in the area of your interest or even offer classes on site.
Often these steps can lead you in an unexpected and interesting direction. Try not to be overwhelmed by the information. Instead, pay attention to what you perk up to, what gets you to listen a little more and trust that.
Remember the important thing is to begin.