Well, for today, I thought that I’d look at how to switch from one art medium to another quickly and easily. Although I’ve only really done this properly once (eg: my switch from using coloured pencils to using watercolour pencils in late 2013/early 2014).
1) Know your skill type: Art skills fall into several basic categories – drawing-based skills, painting-based skills, sculpture-based skills and/or digital-based skills.
Work out which skill type you are best at, and then see if there’s any version of the new medium that you want to switch to that allows you to use some of these skills (eg: if you use a graphics tablet for digital art, then search for a drawing pen that has similar dimensions to your stylus). Although you’ll probably still have to learn some new skills, having some pre-existing similar skills will help you to get started with the new art medium right away.
Since my skills are mostly drawing-based, when I was curious about painting, I chose to use watercolour pencils. Since these are basically just coloured pencils that turn into watercolour paint when you go over them with a wet paintbrush, they allowed me to use (and keep) all of my drawing skills – whilst only having to learn a few basic painting skills (and change the type of paper and pens that I used).
Likewise, if you want to switch from painting to drawing, then something like alcohol-based markers (I’ve never tried these though) or oil pastels might be worth taking a look at. Since, from what I gather, you can still use them to create some painting-like effects (eg: blending colours easily etc…). Plus, they seem to be slightly less “precise” than traditional pens and pencils too – if, unlike me, the lack of precision in traditional painting is something you actually like.
2) Try it out: If at all possible, get a cheap version of the medium you want to switch to and experiment with it. The only true way to know if you’ll get on well with a new medium is good old-fashioned hands-on experimentation.
To use a computer-based example, I was fascinated by Linux (again) the day before writing this article. So, I made a live DVD of Lubuntu Linux. One of the things that this showed me was that my graphics card causes screen-flickering issues with this version of Linux(Ironically, my old Puppy Linux live CDs had better functionality!). Even so, I was able to try out a totally different operating system without having to buy a new computer or anything like that, which was really cool.
Going back to art, the first time that I actually used watercolour pencils was when I got a cheap set of them for Christmas in 2013. This set only contained something like 8-10 pencils and it lacked a few important colours. Likewise, I actually had to use a traditional paintbrush and a bottle of water at first. But, even with these limitations, the medium fascinated me enough to make me want to get more pencils and a (much more user-friendly) waterbrush.
Likewise, I learnt that I really don’t get on well with pastels after I was given an old set of oil pastels by a relative. Although I liked the fact that you could use them to draw on cardboard, they were just slightly too imprecise for my tastes. Not to mention that I was worried about messing up the bed of my scanner if I scanned too many pastel drawings.
Plus, if you want to get into digital art and/or digital image editing, then it might be worth checking out a free and open-source graphics program called “GIMP“. Yes, the loading times for it can be a bit long on old computers, but there are a lot of tutorials for it online ( not to mention that it contains many or all of the basic features that you’ll find in most commercial image editing programs).
So, if you’re curious about switching to a new art medium, go for something cheap and just mess around with it. If you like it despite it’s limitations, then it might be worth investing more in the new medium. The other advantage of trying out cheap paints, pens etc.. is that you won’t have to worry too much about wasting them whilst messing around. And, if you don’t like it, then it’s no major loss.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂