The art world can be a mysterious one. If you learn a little bit about the various media and materials used, you can take some of the mystery out of collecting art.
Here are some easy art terms to aid the novice:
Oil: Paint made with natural oils (linseed, walnut, etc.) used as a binder with the color or pigment. Oil paint can be applied onto canvas, paper, wood panel or linen support.
Acrylic: A synthetic resin that dries faster than oil paint and binds the resin with the color or pigment.
Tempera: An age-old water-based paint using egg yolks as a binding agent. American master Andrew Wyeth was best known for reviving this Renaissance technique during the 1900s.
Watercolor: Similar to gouache, but without the addition of gum. Water is mixed with ground color or pigment. The result is a lighter weight surface texture on paper.
Gouache: Similar to watercolor, but with the addition of gum and water to the ground color or pigment. The result is a heavier surface texture on paper.
When it comes to collecting works of art, the material or medium matters but is not the only aspect that will affect market interest, collectability and value. A watercolor can be as costly and sought-after as an oil on canvas depending on the work’s artist, age, condition and other factors.
While oil paintings are most traditional and one of the oldest methods used by studio artists, acrylic has become widely accepted by collectors of 20th century paintings and contemporary artists. Acrylic paint enjoyed widespread use in the late 1900s and continues to be used today by artists internationally.
Tempera paint dates back to the Renaissance period (1400s) and beforehand. It was commonly applied to wooden panels and board and, later on, canvas and linen supports. Oil paints were introduced in the early 1500s and were used with impressive results by the Northern European artists of the time.
Watercolors and gouaches are difficult to master and attract many artists and collectors. The delicacy with which these compositions are executed remain of interest to many collectors in various subjects.
Whatever medium you collect, be sure to review artist’s credentials, sales records, condition, exhibition record (museum status) and subject matter as you build your collection.