The Beauty Of Choosing The Best Medium For Your Portraits

best medium for portraits featured image

We can’t expect a painter who is proficient in oil art to be excellent with the watercolor medium.

Every artist is unique. Some prefer charcoal medium, some colored-pencil, and some other types of paint mediums. 

For an artist, it is important to know which painting medium he/she is good at so they can make more appealing and professional art and attract the masses.

So how does a painter understand its potential or learn which medium for painting they can be adept at?

Whether you’re a beginner or planning to get into this realm, here’s what you need to know about different mediums for paintings. This way, you can bring your imagination to the canvas and learn more about your artistic approach.

(Also Read: History and Use of Mediums)

Oil Paint Medium

a oil portrait painting rested against the wall on the table

If you’re an experienced artist or have already learned the basics, you can go ahead with this medium of painting.

But if you’re not, then you must know that oil paints are the oldest form of medium, which is why the world’s most famous artworks are made using oil paint medium.

You know it’ll take years for you to be a master at it; you can’t pick it up and expect desirable results with this medium of painting. 

Before you start making a painting with oil medium, take a look at its pros and cons.

Family painting from different photos

Pros of oil paints:

  • Art can look rich, royal, and prominent
  • Can capture small details
  • High at adaptability
  • Looks great with any finishing options—framed, rolled, or gallery roll
  • The outcomes can be museum-quality
  • Portraits last for decades 

Cons of oil paints:

  • Takes weeks to dry
  • Can be expensive and smelly
  • Requires expertise to clean an oil painting
  • Susceptible to humidity and direct sunlight

Artworks produced with oil paint medium are unmatchable, timeless, and incredible! 

If you’re a beginner level painter, try to use this art medium as much as you can with low hopes. Because it takes months of hard work, dedication, and time to become adept at it.

Most of the world’s most expensive artworks were produced with oil paints; this traditional medium of painting will secure its spot no matter which medium most painters prefer to create their art. 

Best Places To Hang An Oil Painting: 

Over the mantle, above the headboard, and on an empty wall

Acrylic Paint Medium

a grandfather and grand daughter acrylic portrait lied above the table

Expecting a result similar to oil paint medium? Look no further than acrylics. 

It offers almost similar benefits, but there are some differences between them, which you can read in detail in this blog—oil vs acrylic paint portraits.

Speaking of acrylic art medium, it’s a new form of paint medium that is in high demand and comparably more affordable. 

Unlike oil paints, it isn’t smelly; it may last a little longer if you use acrylic paints appropriately and take necessary precautions.

Here are some portraits with acrylic medium:

a stunning vintage car portrait mounted on the wall
a couple portrait

How are they? Let me know in the comment section. 

Anyway, let’s see the benefits you can avail yourself of by using acrylic paints.

Pros of acrylic paints:

  • Shorter dry time
  • Is affordable and isn’t stinky
  • Versatile in nature, meaning conveniently blends with water
  • Brushes can easily be cleaned
  • Less harmful and safer around children and pets

Cons of acrylic paints:

  • It dries fast so you need to work promptly
  • Artwork collects dust and form grime on short notice
  • Require extra attention while cleaning the acrylic paint  
  • Pigments become darker when whey is dry, so it won’t look the same as how you left it

If you’re a beginner, you can use acrylic medium for painting, as it’s convenient to change its texture and tonality. 

Also, if you can’t hold your horses for long, you’ll probably like it, as you’ll get portraits made in no time.

Importantly, acrylic paints are durable; it is rare to see acrylic portraits turn yellow, dull, or cracked.

Best Places To Hang An Acrylic Painting: 

Baby nurseries, living room and dining room walls. 

(Suggested: 5 Pet Portrait Painters)

Watercolor Paint Medium

Watercolor is the first medium of painting ever introduced to our generation. Its results are vibrant and spontaneous.

If you’re a beginner or have just started off on your artistic path, you can go ahead with the watercolor medium. 

You won’t require anything else except soft bristle brushes and a piece of paper!

But when you take it to the next level, or maybe the professional level, you need to learn some advanced techniques for watercolor paintings. Before that, let me shed some light on its advantages.

Pros of the watercolor medium: 

  • Easily clean your palette
  • Doesn’t pass odor like oil medium
  • Budget-friendly 
  • Dried paint brushes can be reused
  • Watercolor artwork are portable and easy to clean

Amazing, right? Whether you want to own watercolor house portraits or parents & children watercolor portraits, we can deliver whatever you want to your doorstep

Anyway, it isn’t the perfect medium for painting. It’s one of the best art mediums for new painters, but it has the following downsides.

Cons of the watercolor medium:

  • Can bleed or spread across the canvas if not blended with water appropriately
  • Is time-consuming especially when you want to add another layer
  • Blunders or silly errors can’t be undone on watercolor

Watercolor medium may be the most-used pigment, but it takes enough time to dry. Plus, it needs a specific type of paper for you to get desirable outcomes.

While painting with watercolor, always prefer light colors over dark ones. As the hues dry, you’ll see vibrant and refreshing colors on the canvas that weren’t visible at the beginning.

Watercolor is a great medium for painting, but as an artist, to get its full effect, you’ve got to be a little patient.

Best Places To Hang A Watercolor Painting: 

Foyer, bathroom wall (after sealing it), and to fill spaces on a gallery wall 

(Also Read: How to get watercolor portraits from photos)

Pastel Paint Medium

Pastels are of two types—oil and soft

Art with oil pastel medium is expressive and refreshing. Whereas soft or chalk pastels create different effects where smudging is very common.

Oil pastels can be a little weird and messy because they can’t be smudged, but you can flaunt natural pastel brushstrokes. 

But here’s what you need to take into account:

DifferenceOil PastelsSoft Pastels
TypeBright shadesMuted colors
QualityEasy to blend and produce rich and vibrant colorsNot easy to blend and colors can be muted
VarietyLimited Limited

You know the difference between oil and soft pastels; now, it’s your choice

If you don’t know which pastel medium to choose or are tired of making a painting on your own, you can reach out to us.

Whether it is human pastel portraits or family pastel portraits, our team can help you with your queries.

Anyway, if you want to produce pastel art with minimal effort, you should pick soft pastels, as they’re the best medium for painting if you expect expressive and beautiful results. 

Or else you can…

Best Places To Hang A Pastel Painting: 

Room connector walls, spare kitchen walls, and complementing paintings with pencil drawings.

Charcoal Medium

Charcoal is a medium for painting, mostly used to create portrait art. 

As time went on, the medium saw transitions, and painters started making charcoal house portraits, charcoal human sketches, and others, which weren’t common earlier. 

The biggest advantage of charcoal is that it offers a classic look and is easy to undo.

Though you can’t create accurate images, meaning it can never compete with colors. But here are a few things you’ll like about this medium for painting.

  • Affordable, reliable, and portable
  • Easy to smudge
  • Can easily erase charcoal

Whether you want to draw a pet, a human, or any other form of art, you can use charcoal the way you want.

How is this?

Well, if you want to learn some advanced art techniques or love seeing experimental art stuff, you can check out our page, Portrait Ideas and Inspiration

You can even order a compilation charcoal sketch from us. If you want to gift it to someone special or are too tired to draw it on your own.

Best Places To Hang A Charcoal Painting: 

Charcoal deserves its own spotlight and should be placed in a very minimalistic environment or room.

Pencil Medium

Whether you’re a beginner or a domain expert, you love the pencil art medium. Don’t you?

Capturing the tiniest details of subjects is what makes the pencil medium such a sought after medium for art.

Experienced painters know how satisfying it is to use a pencil to add depth and shades.

But as a beginner, I’m sharing some pros and cons of using pencil medium for artwork.

Pros of pencil medium

  • Conveniently draw details
  • Affordable and portable
  • Erasable, eco-friendly and reliable
  • Great shelf-life
  • Can be used on any paper type

It doesn’t have too many cons except that it requires regular sharpening, and smudging might take a little time depending on its tip—how sharp or pointed it is.

(Offer Alert: Order Your First Family Pencil Portraits at Exciting Prices. Use “OFF20” and Enjoy the Offer!)

Best Places To Hang A Pencil Painting: 

Pencil portraits look mesmerizing even when hung alone on any wall. They look exquisite on a bedside table Foyer

Colored Pencil Medium

The most dynamic and versatile art medium available on the market is colored pencils.

It wouldn’t be the oldest medium for painting. But whether you’re an aspiring artist or an experienced painter, you must have created or seen art made using colored pencil medium.

It’s a low maintenance art medium. Plus, it doesn’t require a proper setup like other paint mediums do.

You can sit in any corner or anywhere idle and start painting with this medium.

But no paint medium can be perfect. Like other oil, watercolor, and other mediums for painting, colored pencils too have cons that we’re going to discuss here. First, let’s see its pros.

Pros of colored pencil medium

  • Can be detailed and expressive
  • Easy to set up and erasable
  • Affordable and highly portable
  • Creates bold, opaque, and luminance effect

Cons of colored pencil medium

  • Easy to blend but takes time to get perfect and desirable texture
  • Time-consuming as it covers small areas in one stroke
  • Erasing or removing colors can be annoying
  • Requires sharpening at short intervals

In my opinion, colored pencils make a rewarding artistic medium, but they usually take more time than any other medium for painting. 

If you’re planning to make a human size portrait or a wall size painting, you’ll need weeks to have it done using colored pencils. 

Adding depth and details will take some more time, which is why dealing with colored pencils requires immense patience and dedication.

Understanding how colored pencils work is essential. You start off by using light to dark colors, and those thin and pointed tips take some loads to actually cover the entire surface.

Look at these artworks:

Do you think they were made in a couple of days? No.

Our artists needed a week or two to make these colored pencil portraits. 

And we needed time to put the best on the table—that’s why our customers were delighted after seeing them. 

Because a true and meaningful piece of art, especially one made using colored pencil medium, needs time and effort.

Colored pencils are good for beginners or hobbyists. 

Though there are professionals who only deal in this medium for painting. 

But they know its downsides, and accordingly, they quote the price and take on commissioned work.

Best Places To Hang A Color Pencil Painting: 

A large portrait will fill a bare wall Bare bathroom shelf A wall in your baby’s room

Knowing all the best mediums for portraits—which are the ones that we offer, I hope that now your doubts have been cleared.

Commissioning a painting is a big and bold step for anyone.

And I just made it one step easy for you by eradicating the doubt of “which would be the best medium for my portrait?”

PortraitFlip is one of the best online painting services worldwide with a 4.7-star Trustpilot rating.

The mediums that we offer are the best price in the industry with no compromise in quality.

Commissioning an artwork with us not only allows you to be involved in the artistic process but also gives you a sense of achievement as well.

This involvement instills authenticity, personal meaning, and intimacy in your artwork.

Blending your thoughts and our artists’ creative imaginative handiwork, the outcome will be one of a kind painting.

After all, the most beautiful thing about art—is the art itself.

Final Note

Salut lovelies,

Helping you out to select the best medium for your portraits has been an absolute honor.

This was a short and sweet guide for you to understand which medium would suit your photo to painting the best. 

Hit the share button if the article was helpful. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube and follow us on Instagram.

Au Revoir!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the best medium for portraits?

Oil medium stands true to time and produces the best realistic looking portraits of all times. Although the medium of your portrait should match its future placement in the home too. There are many aspects to be considered when getting a portrait done, to know more read the above article.

Q2. Is oil the best medium to get a solo portrait?

A solo portrait is meant to have focus only on the solo element of the painting. Eg: If you get a solo portrait of a dog, the painting should look so realistic in nature that it would look 3D. The best medium to get a solo portrait is Oil and Acrylic.

Q3. Is pastel the best medium for portrait?

Pastel medium is best suited for portrait painting that has various characters.

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