Do you ever feel like you always migrate towards one particular medium, neglecting the rest of your tools? Mixing up your mediums can be a fantastic way to shake yourself out of a creative plateau, try new techniques and add more depth to your current work. As artists our senses tend to be heightened – sometimes adding in a new feel or smell or touch can awaken ideas that lay dormant. This blog will explore how to select something that is similar, but different enough from your old standby to expand your horizons.


Graphite is a classic medium that can be used on anything from newsprint to smooth Bristol paper, textured thick cold press papers and more. Techniques range from delicate layers of shading using various pencil hardness to cross hatching and scribbling. Yet, all pencil-work is simply put, mark making. What better way to get back to almost primal roots by picking up some burnt sticks and exploring the variety of effects charcoal provides. You’ll love the familiar range of tones you can achieve whether you select compressed charcoal (pencil or stick), willow and vine or charcoal powder. There is something very satisfying as an artist about watching the ebb and flow of shades that can be achieved with a few strokes. It also tends to get darker darks and doesn’t have that same reflective quality that graphite has on a finished work!  Robert Kelley is really a master at charcoal and has several courses on our network!  Find them HERE!



As an acrylic painter you’ve undoubtedly watered your paint down too much and gone through the process of adding more paint to bulk it back up. However, that same thinned out acrylic paint can create gorgeous layers of color and depth when applied to thick paper, canvas or a multimedia substrate. You are a hop, skip and a jump from diving into the joys of watercolor! Watercolor paints tend to be more translucent and muted than acrylics (even when they are watered down), allowing for you to add richness of hue to your subjects. Think about adding subtle green and purple tones to a dark skin tone or layering in soft oranges and yellows under what will become a pink rose. Added bonus? When you’re done painting you just let your paints dry and they’re good to go for next time, clean up is a breeze!  Take an acrylic course with Kara or a watercolor course with Misty Segura-Bowers on our network!



If you love the process of turning a desk-full of ideas into one masterpiece you may truly enjoy going 3D! Take all your paper, ribbon, found objects, wires, strings and build those into free-standing objects, creatures or abstract representations. There are a wide variety of ways to explore sculpture including papier-mache, clay, wire form and more! Your imagination is the only limit here as everything in reach becomes an acceptable medium in this mix.  The collage piece below is my own work created in a workshop with Paul Cristina.  The sculpture is by our beloved community friend and artist, Kathy Lewis!



Delicate layers of colored pencil can render a piece with so much hue and feeling, it is incredible, but often a time-intensive process. Pastels come in a range of types including pan-pastels that are like a pressed powder, pastel pencils, hard stick pastels, oil pastels and buttery soft hand-rolled pastels. Layer colors quicker with sticks or explore a quicker way of blending colors with pastel pencils. You can draw over other colors, like pencil, or blend some areas for added softness. If you’re feeling daring try turning a pastel stick on it’s side and use it like a broad brush exploring the hard, sharper edges and the feel of it in your hand. Play with substrates here and watch the effects change even more – don’t shy away from pastel board, colored papers, or even black substrates.  In the picture below, we see artist Christa Forrest has used both pastel and watercolor!  Learn more about this in her course EXPRESSIVE PORTRAITS!



Working in ink is a committed practice, every stroke and mark is intentional and permanent. While ink drawing happens quite literally line by line, linocut combines the drawing aspect with the ability to recreate the piece (or stamp it repeatedly for a neat effect) as often as you like and in any colors that you like. Your steady hand that is used to pen drawing will translate nicely to the detail and care required for carving. If you’re just starting out, try a soft linoleum block for maximum carving ease and forgiveness. You might find you can recreate some of your favorite drawings infinitely in this fashion or find yourself inspired to create something entirely new.

I can't wait to hear more about how you are trying new mediums, or how you plan to try some of these that we have shared about this week!  Comment below and let us know what works for you!






  1. […] of life, but did you know it also works to jazz up your creative spirit as well? Take a look at our previous post this month for some ideas on different mediums that might be a nice departure from the norm without […]

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