Whatever is represented or depicted in an artwork is called a subject. In art, there are different kinds of subject, ranging from landscape, still life, animals, portraits, images of divinity, etc.

Similarly, there are varied ways of presenting a subject of an art, but this chapter focuses only on the three major methods, namely: realism, abstraction, and distortion.

Other than subject, medium is also an essential ingredient of art. On the basis of medium, a work of art can be classified as visual or auditory, further, arts can be classified as major or minor because of the medium used by the artist. The medium is the physical means through which we can come in contact with a work of art; the elements are its qualities or properties. While the principles are the guidelines how the artists organize the visual elements to create a work of art.

Learning Objectives


1. Understand the concept of “SUBJECT” of an art;
2. Recognize the different kinds of subject and the varied ways of presenting the subject;
3. Comprehend the problems or limitations involved in a medium;
4. Appreciate the importance of a medium in a work of art.


1. What makes a subject valuable?

2. Do all arts without a subject, necessarily non-representational? Why?

3. Is there such a thing as beautiful art? Ugly art? Why?

4. What is the difference between objective and non-objective art?

5. How essential a medium to a work of art?

6. How are mediums chosen by the artists?

7. What are the problems or limitations involved in a medium?



A medium in art may refer to one of two definitions. A medium may refer to the type of material used to create artwork. In this sense, no limits exist on what defines an art medium. Traditional media, as well as any found objects used to create a piece of artwork, are considered an art medium. Another definition of medium in art refers to substances added to different paints to achieve a desired texture or effect. In either case, many options exist which you may wish to explore in creating your original artworks.

Paint Media

Traditional paints create one category of art medium. Within the paint medium, several types of paint exist each with its own qualities. Acrylic paints make an excellent beginner medium. They mix, thin and clean up with water while requiring little drying time. Watercolors provide another medium choice. Watercolors may prove difficult to master at first, due to the fast drying time and unforgiving brush strokes they create. Usually considered the most advanced of art paint media, traditional oil paints require turpentine for clean up, knowledge of layering qualities and an extended drying time. Other types of paint less common but still a part of the art media category include tole, airbrush and fabric paints.

Drawing Media

Drawing materials make up another medium category. Traditional drawing media for creating black and white drawings include graphite pencil, charcoal pencils, charcoal sticks and pens. A working knowledge of shading technique is helpful in working with black and white media so you can create depth. Colored drawing media include colored pencils, pastel pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels and various markers. Colored media, such as pastels, offer the option of blending, much like paint, to create various new colors.

Sculpture Media

Three-dimensional art offers an enormous category of art media. Virtually any found object might be used to create a sculpture. Since art media includes any materials used as part of the art creation, the list of art media for sculptures particularly, is infinite. Traditional sculpture media however, includes wood, paper maché, clay, wire, metal, stone and found objects. This media often receives other media, such as paint, added to it in the making of sculptures.

Medium Additives

Substances that mix with or apply under and over paint media provide the other definition of art medium. These media include substances such as gesso and modeling paste, which can be applied before the paint and used to build up dimension on a canvas. They also include paint additives such as polymers and gels that alter the texture of acrylic, oil or watercolor paints. These additives provide specific qualities, such as sand or fiber texture and gloss or matte finish.

Less Traditional Media

Various other art techniques provide other, less popular or traditional, art media. These include printmaking materials such as ink and paper. Collage media include various papers, found objects and fixatives. Scrapbooking, now often considered an art form, include media such as paper and stickers. Photography too, often falls into the artwork category and the medium it uses traditionally is paper and film. However, with the move to digital technology for printing, film has been replaced with the computer, photography paper and ink. Often, a list of art media now includes printers, paper and ink as more technology based projects come to be accepted as art

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