Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Describing your medium

Now that you have given yourself a general area of focus to your art, think about the materials you use to make that art. What qualities do those materials have? What qualities are the hallmark of those mediums? Not sure what I’m talking about? That’s ok. We’ll break it down so you can see what I mean. 

Let’s choose a material. 


Now I don’t do sculpture. I really don’t know anything about working in stone. I chose this as it is out of my comfort zone and will likely be more instructive to you in your own process than if I chose a more common material. 

Ok. So stone. How do we look at the material? Is it in its raw form? Polished? Do you start with a polished/finished stone and set it, as in the creation of jewelry? Do you start with a slab of rock that looks unremarkable and carve it, polish it, give it life and sheen? Do you remark on the grain in the stone? Is it a large stone? A small stone? Does it shine? Is it matte? Is it a shape? Is it polished, but an untamed shape? Is it a hard stone or a soft stone to carve? Do you use a chisel or a mallet? How has it been polished? By hand? By machine? Where does this stone originate from? Is it from a particular area that is known for this type of stone? Does the stone type have some special meaning? If so is that meaning reflected in the piece of art? 

Do you see where I am going with this? 

Maybe this seems tedious to you. Maybe you want to just get it over with. I sympathize with you.   And yet I can’t tell you that there is a shortcut to writing about your art that will be effective, because, really, writing is an art in itself. While boring text about shaving cream or toaster waffles is marginally excusable, boring text about art? Well, that just doesn’t cut it. You know it. I know it. Your art critics and fans know it. 

So onward! 

Polish your ability to discuss art and you will write about your own art with more skill. 

What materials did you choose? What words did you use to describe them? How hard was this for you to do? Let me know in the comments. 


  1. Oh, goodness! This is so hard as I use many materials, but being pushed to think about it more is so helpful. And thank you for the previous post, too, as it is something I need to do for an upcoming exhibition. For the first time I'm having to put together an artist statement and write about my art in a coherent way!

    1. Yes, mixed media uses A LOT of different kinds of materials. Even if you only think of five you will have started your habit of being able to identify qualities of the materials and therefore have more to be able to pull out when trying to describe a piece.

      Pulling together an artist statement is can be overwhelming. Going beyond a simple statement like "I make art" requires quite a bit of thought. Can't wait to explore these types of writing with you.


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