If you feel like your artwork is getting repetitive, stagnant and boring, try to experiment with using different media. However, it is important to keep in mind that art-making mediums should be used in a way that supports your ideas, there are times when a dash of unpredictability and thinking-outside-the-box can help.
Paint on something interesting
Many students choose to paint or draw on white cartridge paper and nothing else. There is nothing wrong with cartridge paper. Some cartridge papers (thick, wet strength ones) are beautiful to work on and some (thin, flimsy) sheets are all you need. However, experimentation and creativity with a new media brings advantages. It is a discovery when you paint on something unexpected: a surface that brings its own colours, textures, marks and irregularities.
Here are some fantastic mediums to discover:
- Draw on coloured paper
The first thing you can do is embrace papers of other colours. Select those that integrate seamlessly with your coursework project (creams, browns, greys and blacks are likely to be more appropriate than neon pink).
Dark colours can be great for drawing on with light mediums (light pastel colours, white charcoal), mid-tone papers (the colour of the paper acts as the mid-tone for the drawing; dark and light areas are added as required (this results in a piece that appears three-dimensional very quickly).
- Textured paper
There are lots of textured papers available. Some are machine made, pressed with a uniform mesh of bumps or grooves; others are handmade, with flecks of fibre, thread, tissue and other items intertwined within the paper pulp. If you don’t have access to textured papers, you can easily find or make your own. Tear apart packaging or disassemble things you find in the trash. Source whatever scraps you can and draw on them, or cut, tear and glue them into a painting.
- Tracing paper
Many people don’t realise that tracing paper is not just useful for tracing – it is an exciting drawing surface in its own right. Tracing paper can be used to make translucent overlays or glued onto white backing paper. The shiny surface creates rich, glossy images that love to smudge and blacken your hands. Permatrace – a thick, waterproof drafting film – is particularly exhilarating: it produces some amazing outcomes with ink.
- Use ripped, scrunched, folded, ripped, or stained paper or tissue
Tissue paper can be scrunched and glued onto a painting (shaping as required) to create a textural surface that can be painted over. As with other textures, dry-brushing will exaggerate them and make the fine web of creases more visible.
- Paint or draw on patterned or textured wallpapers or other decorative surfaces
Care needs to be taken when integrating patterned items; it can be easy for the pattern to dominate and overpower a work. When appropriate imagery is selected, however, patterned items can provide excellent drawing surfaces or collaged material.
If you experiment with drawing on a newspaper, remember that the text becomes a part of your work; this needs to be an intentional and considered decision. If the words are legible, the message contained within the writing should be relevant or, at the very least, not distracting.
- Paint on linen, hessian, canvas or fabric
Pieces of fabric can be cut and glued onto paper and painted upon to create interesting texture. The fine mesh of woven thread can be left as is or hacked at and unravelled, fine threads spiralling into the artwork. It is also possible to ‘stretch’ canvas yourself over a sturdy piece of cardboard, with the canvas edges folded behind the back of the card and stapled.