Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Art Mediums and Expression

Yesterday I went into a little about using concept in your artwork, today I'd like to touch on different mediums (materials such as oil paint, clay, acrylics, etc) and how they play their part. 

In the artworld, both amongst collectors and artists themselves, there is a certain snobbishness over what value certain mediums have. Oils seem to dominate the painting world, bronze the sculpting arena and johnny-come-lately artist mediums have to fight for recognition. 

I like a challenge and am a firm believer that the medium should fit the expression. I've played around with art all my life but my first serious foray involved airbrushing. I didn't want to do motorcycle tanks or t-shirts, I was inspired by Radu Vero's Airbrush: The Complete Studio Handbook and wanted to be the first recognized fine artist airbrush painter (yeah, yeah...we all start big in our heads). 

Unfortunately my health was compromised by fibromyalgia and I was advised to not do airbrushing anymore due to the strain from the repetitive movement. From there I moved on to oil pastels. I had quite a lot of success with this medium but then I was introduced to Paintstiks (I'm the poster named Dyin) when Jack Richeson & Co. Fine Art Materials contacted me to test their product. 

The Paintstiks in turn led me to the use of classic oils, I got a nice break from the Jack Richeson company and got a supply of Shiva oils to work with. I thought I'd found my medium for sure once I got through all the learning phases of color mixing and technique. 

And then one day (partially due to health) I was just done. For a year I did nothing art-wise (gasp!). I felt I had hit a wall. I loved oils and I loved portraits but I was doing nothing original with them. I swore that I would not pick up a paintbrush (never even considered another medium) until I had a new approach. 

I got to this new sculpting medium in a very round about way. I'd seen some fancy sugar work on the Food network and wanted to see how they 'blew' and modeled sugar. This led me to a link on Cold Porcelain. I tried making my own but I didn't see myself making flowers ad infinitum  and the stuff really wasn't very forgiving for sculpting. 

A few years ago a friend of mine got into firing her clay pots in the ground and was getting a lot of breakage. Just for fun I'd sculpted a 'kiln troll' for her using plumbers epoxy. I had a horrid allergic reaction to it and it made me a little gun shy. But after the Cold Porcelain attempt I thought I'd just play with some Sculpey, not expecting much from it. 

Now, let me tell you....polymer clay is as johnny-come-lately as you can get. The good work you see out there is in jewelry and doll sculpture and even I had associated it with child crafts and cutesy knick knacks. 

I researched and it seemed like you needed to get the 'professional' stuff to do anything worthwhile with it, but once again...wrong! I don't advise using poor materials as a medium. But even though polymer clay is considered plastic, it's actually vinyl and vinyl is durable and therefore the medium itself is not a poor material. My point is that Sculpey so far has done anything I've asked of it, so I don't necessarily have to go buy the specialty stuff. Like most mediums, it just takes patience and experience to master. 

So, I've used different mediums to express what I needed to and what it comes down to is that for myself as an artist there's no sense in being a medium doesn't matter if it's a popular medium to other artists or collectors. What matters in the end is if the art itself is of value and that's what I'm working to find out. 

So mediums have a big role in expression, and even if the discussion boards have endless debates on mediums and it's hard to get the recognition that you feel your medium deserves, keep at it, it's the end results that count and I do believe that if you put your heart and soul into something it will find its place in the universe. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments, your opinions will help format the content of this site. Comments will be reviewed for content and then posted.