What Does Your Medium Teach You?

As artists we’re all looking for inspiration. We got to museums, buy books, and even take classes hoping to trigger our creative energies. We focus on technique, perspective, and design in order to tell our story. Our art is our message. Our art is what we hope to share with others to spread an idea, an experience, or a challenge. That’s what you want to teach the world, what does your medium teach you?

I’m a textile artist, so fabric is my game. I am not the more graceful or careful individual in the world so the idea of using sharp objects repeatedly is a concern for those around me. I have the Costco size container of Band-Aids at the quick and ready. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve cut myself on multiple occasions. What did I learn? My own saliva takes out my own blood from fabric (that’s true for you too). The enzymes in your saliva take your own blood out of fabric. I know this isn’t earth shattering, but is an interesting factoid.

On a more meaningful experience, the medium you choose may hold the key to your inner workings. As an example, if you are an oil painter you know that oil paints take a long time to dry. This being the case, the lesson of patience is quite prominent. The medium also gives you the opportunity to work on multiple pieces simultaneously because they are at different stages of drying. This gives you the gift of telling different parts of the same story making a body of work quite cohesive.

All of our mediums have specific traits that require us to adapt. A watercolor artist may have to focus on how things blend together or prevent things from blending together because water runs. A sculptor (depending on the material) may have to learn chemistry and the properties of fire. A ceramic artist will have to explore their own experience of surprise because how glazes go in is not how glazes come out.

Our medium is not only our method of self-expression, but a key to unlocking the lessons from our unconscious. This is why it’s important to play with other mediums, to unlock those hidden artistic potentials and to learn the answers to the questions the soul is asking!

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