Ultimate Guide to Art Mediums


Wendy Hollender’s Hydrangea Leaves & Soloman’s Seal (left), Leafy Leaves Zoom Workshop Drawings by Jane G. (top middle), Becky B. (bottom middle), and Kristen (right)


On the Community Art Feed, in monthly Webinars, and in every Workshop, we are blown away by your work and how no two drawings are exactly alike. Even if we’re all drawing the same subject with the same supplies, we all see (and draw) differently!

Different artists prefer working with different materials for different reasons, and there are SO MANY different art mediums! With so many options of art supplies to choose from, it can be hard to know what’s best to use to bring your visions to life.

When my web search failed to give me a guide that included everything (this Glytterati guide and this Art File Magazine guide came the closest), I decided to compile my own comprehensive list of art supplies and their traits so that you can easily see each medium’s pros, cons, and personality and decide which is right for your next project!


Art Supplies by Wendy Hollender


The Practice of Botanical Drawing teaches a combination of fundamental 3D art concepts and colored pencil and watercolor technique, so if you want to try other mediums, you can skip the supplies-specific tips and still learn a lot about art basics including perspective, light source, composition, etc. Post photos of your work to the Art Feed to get positive, personalized feedback from talented instructors to help you improve.

Here’s a summary of some of the most popular techniques. Explore the ones that interest you! Try them on their own, and try combining them for a fun experiment. There is no “wrong” way to make art. Don’t worry about the results; just enjoy the creative process, and you’ll be surprised by what you can do!

Types of Art Supplies

. Drawing
. Painting
. Mixed Media
. Digital
. 3D / Sculpting

(Click on any of the categories above to jump to that section!)


Colored Pencil Zinnia Study Page by Wendy Hollender

+ Colored pencils

– Versatile, Portable, Vibrant
– Seamlessly blend colors and create texture
– Layer colors to create depth and dimension
– Good for intricate details (need a good pencil sharpener!)
– Difficult to cover large areas
Learn more about colored pencils here

We have spent many years drawing with colored pencils, and Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils and Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils are our favorites. (Click here to find out why!)


Watercolor Pencil Northern Catalpa Tree by Wendy Hollender

+ Watercolor pencils

– Versatile
– Can give a watercolor paint effect
– Works well with other mediums
– OUR FAVORITES: Faber Castell offers Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils in the same colors (and for the same price!) as their Polychromos Colored Pencils, so you only need to learn your colors once!
– Need watercolor paper if using wet techniques
Learn more about watercolor pencils here


Graphite Daisy by Wendy Hollender


+ Graphite

– Smooth, Versatile, Portable
– Good for learning about using a light source with a complete range of values from dark to light
– Great for practicing how to draw different views of flowers quickly.
– B pencils are softer and good for darker and thicker lines
– H pencils are harder and good for thin, light lines and sketches and technical drawings
– Smudges easily (needs fixative spray to prevent smudging after they are finished)
– Easier to use (and erase mistakes) and less messy than paint and charcoal
Learn more about graphite here

+ Charcoal

– Intense, Versatile, Raw
– Easy to blend, shade, and erase, but also easily smudged or rubbed off accidentally (requires fixative when finished)
– Use on various surfaces including paper, fabric, and skin
Learn more about charcoal here

+ Conté (Graphite or Charcoal combined with Clay)

– Velvety finish, but smudges easily (needs fixative spray to prevent smudging after they are finished)
– Historically used as a substitute for graphite before graphite pencils, but today they also come in crayons!
Learn more about conté here


Chalk Art by Abigail Bruce, who uses tempera paint, chalk, soft pastels, water and her hands to transform sidewalks into vibrant chalk murals.


+ Chalk

– Soft, Crumbly
– Blends easily
– Requires fixative when finished
Learn more about chalk here

+ Pastels

Soft pastels used for smudging, colors are wonderfully intense, but they crumble very easily
Hard pastels create more defined lines, color is less intense, but they don’t crumble or break as easily
Oil pastels produce more vibrant colors, similar to oil paints, won’t crumble, smudge, or release airborne dust, more stable, don’t require fixative, but they never completely dry, so safe transport can be a hassle; not great at blending, aren’t compatible with other pastel types, difficult to get fine details
– “Water pastels are more transparent but blend easier than oil pastels and work well with other mediums”
Pan pastels can be applied with a sponge or brush for various effects, easy to blend, compatible with other art mediums and surfaces, less messy than soft pastels
Dry pastels require a fixative when finished
– Can be messy
Learn more about pastels here


Nature journaling pages from Wendy Hollender’s travels to Transylvania


+ Inks

– Graphic ink pens are great for illustrations
– Fountain pens are ideal for calligraphy
– “Available in many different colors, opacities, and finishes, including metallics, watercolor, alcohol, and regular pot inks”
– Works well with other mediums and on multiple surfaces
– Can be expensive
– Unforgiving, cannot erase
Learn about scratchboard technique here
Find helpful pen and ink tips and techniques here
Learn more about inks here

+ Markers

– Highly versatile, many different vivid colors and finishes to layer and blend
– Great for sketching and details (but unforgiving, cannot erase)
– Mainly paint-based or ink-based (liners, alcohol markers, brush-tip markers)
– Can have an odor
Learn more about markers here including the differences between their various tip shapes and dyes




Watercolor Anemones by Wendy Hollender


+ Watercolor

Find helpful watercolor technique tips here
– Emotional, Transparent, Whimsical
– Fast-drying (work quickly!)
– Build up color with layers (must completely dry in between)
– Use on watercolor paper (cotton, thick enough to not disintegrate or warp with water)
– Great for blending colors
– Sheer effect (never completely opaque)
– Come as watercolor pencils, semi-dry pans, or paint tubes
Learn more about watercolors here

+ Tempera

– Vibrant, Intense colors, Fast-drying
– “Is an art medium but is also an art style characterized by linear textures with sharp edges, intricate details, and warm bold colors”
– “can only be used in a thin layer so do not possess the same depth of color as these other painting mediums”
– Often used for detailed painting or on porous surfaces like wood or plaster
– Delicate, can crack or flake off over time
Learn more about tempera paint here


Oil Paint Orange Poppy by Wendy Hollender with brushes (left) and paint tubes (right)


+ Oil

See Wendy’s oil painting portfolio here
– Durable, Steadfast, Classic
– Can be used on various surfaces including canvas, wood, and metal
– Dries slowly (take your time working)
– Easy to blend
– Strong odor and need solvents to clean brushes
Learn more about oil paint here

+ Acrylic

– Vibrant, Sturdy, Versatile, Durable
– Dries quicker than oil paint, slower than watercolor and is less messy than oil paint
– “Comes in many consistencies and allows you to create various effects, from thick oil paints to flowy watercolors and inks”
– Versatile and beginner friendly
– Difficult to blend
Learn more about acrylic paint here


Rattlesnake Plant by Wendy Hollender


+ Gouache

– Thick, opaque
– Vibrant color palette
– Comes as pans and tubes
– Fast-drying
– Can be tricky to layer because “dried gouache is reactivated when wet paint is layered on top”
Learn more about gouache here

+ Encaustic (hot wax painting)

– Applied to wood or canvas with hot metal tools
– Durable, very long-lasting
– Does not involve solvents or harsh fumes like oil paints
– Hard to work with (because it must remain hot!)
– Can be expensive (requires heating equipment)
Learn more about encaustic paint here


“Why can’t flowers be a tad badass? Thrush Holmes paints large, raw, irreverent works using oil, enamel and spray paint on canvas, and adds actual neon for punch.” (Source)


+ Spray paint

– Simple to use
– Inexpensive and widely available
– Strong odor and fumes
– Difficult to remove
Learn more about spray paint here




Tulip and friends by Sheila Y.


Sheila is an active member of our community. She draws her subjects, and then she cuts them out, arranges them, and glues them down. We love how Sheila takes our lessons and adds her own spin. Check out Sheila’s portfolio here.

Also check out this cool page about botanical artists using other media.

+ Assemblage

Learn about assemblage here

+ Collage

Learn about collage here

+ Found objects
+ Printmaking – Etching and Linoprinting


Artichoke aquatint etching with chine-collé and hand-colored by Monika deVries Gohlke



+ Digital photography

Learn about digital photography here

+ Graphic art

– Includes printmaking styles, typography, pattern arrangements, computer-manipulated design

+ Digital painting

Learn about digital painting here

+ Digital installation art

– Using digital equipment such as computers, projectors, and sensors, digital installation artists create immersive environments that combine sound, visuals, and physical objects.
Learn about digital installation art here




Photo of Mushroom Landart by Hannah Bullen Ryner


+ Landart

– ‘Landart’ refers to ephemeral art made from foraged natural materials. Hannah Bullen-Ryner creates fleeting ground sculptures using botanicals as her brushstrokes!

+ Clay / Pottery

Learn about clay and pottery here

+ Wood

Learn about wood here

+ Stone

Learn about stone here


Wrought Iron and Rock Crystal Sculpture, The Olive Tree by Sylvain Subervie


+ Metal

Learn about metal here

+ Plaster

Learn about plaster here

+ Paper

Learn about paper here

+ Silicone
+ Plastics

Galvanised Forged Steel and Glass Sculpture Agapanthus by Jenny Pickford


+ Glass
+ Resin
+ Foam
+ Ice
+ Fabrics

Learn about fabrics here

Composition by Wendy Hollender, Embroidered by Trish Burr


+ Embroidery and Needlework


Want more?

Brighten the world with your creations. Share your unique perspective by developing your own focus and style. The Practice of Botanical Drawing lessons are a great template to work from, full of drawing tips, but still allowing freedom for you to add your own spin.


We delight in sharing our creations on the Art Feed! Join any of our subscription programs (Botanical Basics, The Practice of Botanical Drawing, or Community) for access to the Art Feed, your own virtual Portfolio, our live monthly Webinars, celebrating everyone’s work each month.

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