Choosing the right medium for a painting

So you are considering commissioning a painting, congratulations on being courageous and creating something unique, remember the world is your oyster. So where do you start. We are here to make the entire process simple, pleasurable and help you to achieve your expectations.


Being an artist myself with a passion for abstract oil painting, I have over 30 years’ experience in painting unique works. I have also commissioned several works for myself and have a lot of project management experience especially around using best practice to greatly increase the chance of overachieving on our client's expectations.  


Let's get started by explaining the different mediums you can choose from:

Oil Paintings:


Advantages: Oil paint takes time, it’s about blending colours and having more time to make changes. Oils give you a real rich depth of colour that’s hard to replicate using any other medium that will last for centuries.

Oils are default medium for most of the great master painters, it’s commonly used to produce details and works well in traditional styles to my favourite in abstraction.

Disadvantages: Some oil mediums use toxic solvents to extend the life of oils therefore you may wish to consider using only non-toxic mediums.

Oil paint takes a very long time to cure, if at all. For me that’s part of its appeal as it’s always evolving. This does mean you need to take extra care when shipping and oil paints.

For some styles especially in abstraction when using very thick layers of oil paint, layering colours can take many weeks and can lead to cracking. Oil paint also tends to yellow over time especially for lighter colours.

Acrylic Paintings

Advantages: Acrylic paints are a water based cheap, non-toxic and fast drying although its possible to use slow-drying acrylics.

Many artists use acrylics as its a speedy process, great for layering and should actually last as long as oil paints. Acrylics are also more versatile then oils with many different effects possible including acrylics that strongly resemble oil paints.

Unlike oil paints, when used correctly acrylics won’t crack or yellow there are many compelling reasons to use acrylic paints.


Disadvantages: Although acrylic paints don’t contain any toxins they can contain ammonia therefore good ventilation should be used when painting in acrylics.

Pastel Paintings



Advantages: Although pastels are often referred to as paintings, they are actually drawings. It’s a simple and effective medium that can produce some striking results with a rich sheen effect. Pastels are often used when out and about without any issues around drying times.

Disadvantages: Pastels are a delicate medium that will require protection via glass framing. We would not recommend using alternative protections like sprays as they are likely to spoil the effect of pastels.


Mixed Media Paintings


Advantages: There are no limits to mediums and materials you can use to create a striking contemporary appearance for any works you are after.

Disadvantages: When using non-fine art materials the major disadvantage is the temporal nature of some of the materials. Although its possible to use protection to reduce the effects of UV, air and atmospheric conditions such as sealing and UV glass framing these types are works generally have a shorter life expectancy than others.


Another consideration is the medium to long term effects of different materials with each other as well as there being a greater disparity with consistency between a previous work and the desired outcome of a new commission.

Painting with Watercolour



Advantages: Watercolour has a magical reflective transparency due to the water-soluble pigments in the paint. A series of transparent washes creates layers that give a unique glow to any painting that’s hard to achieve using other mediums.

Disadvantages: Watercolours are a delicate medium that needs protection, glass framing will protect the painting and is highly recommended.


Pencil Drawings


Advantages: Graphite is fairly easy to control providing good shading and depth. The work can be coated to prevent smudges when finished. The artist can create a wide range of values and textures. Its quick cost effective and makes directional making easy when creating 3D effects.

Disadvantages: Can smudge easily if not coated . Never fully black.

Digital Paintings



Advantages: Creating artwork digitally gives you a much faster turnaround time, the ability to commission artists internationally easily and it's cheaper. The output digital file can be to any resolution and format. You can then arrange to print the work onto canvas locally.

Disadvantages: Traditionalists would not like this modern method of output and some people want to receive a tangible output they can touch and feel instantly.