Mixed Media Painting by Florian Nicolle

If Painting is a form of art, TECHNIQUES form its backbone!

Painting or Visual Art is not just about a person expressing himself, it is also about COLOR, it is very VISUAL and also very COMPELLING. Artists since time immemorial have used paintings to express what they feel, their thoughts, what changes happen around them and also probably as a means of self-escape.

If you have seen paintings when visiting an art gallery for example, and actually stopped to study it in detail, you will find many minor characteristics that differentiate one from the other. This is because the artists have used different methods to bring a painting to life on a canvas. Also called TECHNIQUES, these methods show up as subtle details in a painting, and they change depending on the artist who has used them, and also echo the artist’s need to try out something different from the others.

Such Techniques or Methods, can also been attributed to other existing factors which include;

  • The kind of tools that were used at the time
  • The Paints/ Pigments that were in vogue during a period
  • An innovative use of a tools by an artist or a group of them, that spurred various permutations and combinations of the same method
  • The means for an artist to express the same scene albeit in a very different way

If you’ve ever seen a painting, and wondered ‘How did an Artist do that?” then you’re on a journey of learning and self-discovery, because every painting has a different story to tell. Every painting uses a unique technique to depict something from the artist’s perspective, and eventually every painting is always about pushing boundaries to create something new.

Below are a few common techniques that have been elaborated upon, which have been and still are used by artists everywhere.



IMPASTO PAINTING by Artist Jan Ironside

IMPASTO PAINTING by Artist Jan Ironside

The technique of laying paint very thickly on a canvas, in such a way that it creates visible brush strokes; IMPASTO is generally practiced using oil paints on canvas. The thickness of the paints and the time it requires to dry make it a very good medium for these paintings. Artists like Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh and even Henri Matisse have used this quite extensively and beautifully in their work.



Mixed Media Artwork of Singer Kylie Minogue created by Artist Jason Mecier

Mixed Media Artwork of Singer Kylie Minogue created by Artist Jason Mecier using the singer’s cosmetics

MIXED MEDIA is a relatively recent painting technique that uses a multitude of distinct art media to create a visual art piece. An example for this is the combination of paint, ink and paper collage on a canvas. Unlike traditional artworks that only use paints, these works can be 3-dimensional and textural, giving more meaning to a painting. An important rule in this technique, is ‘Fat over lean’. When layering is done, it is advisable start with lighter mediums and finish with oil paints for a cohesive, dimensional look.




Glazing Technique used in Arist Jan Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'

Glazing Technique used in Artist Jan Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

A subtle method of painting, but one that can change the value, hue and texture of a surface, GLAZING is a layering technique that was practiced by many well-known artists, one of them being Jan Vermeer. The important part of glazing depends on the medium used, which is the mixture or base to which the dry pigment is added. Every layer that is painted in this method, is left to dry sufficiently before the next coat is added, creating a soft glow because of the reflection of light from the opaque surface. This method is the most apt for bringing out the wonderful complexities of skin tones, especially in oil paintings. A step by step technique of the glazing technique can be found in this link, http://www.penroseart.com/vermeer09.htm

As we have seen in the above techniques, each one is different and can be used depending on what is the ultimate outcome you want to achieve. Artists nowadays are blending these various techniques beautifully to create their own unique masterpieces.





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