Does The Medium Choose The Artist?

Sometimes I wonder, does the artist choose their medium or does the medium choose the artist. It’s a bit odd to think that some inanimate object has chosen you to master its ways and intricacies but is it possible that in some mysterious kind of way an artist gravitates, maybe even feels compelled to take up a particular medium, forsaking all others just for that One? I ponder this sometimes because pen and ink in all honesty is an unforgiving medium and pointillism is laborious technique. Yet I love it and I can’t really explain why. I try but the words don’t seem to fully convey what I want to express. It’s more a feeling than anything logical. Maybe our chosen mediums are an expression of our personalities. Maybe certain personalities gravitate towards paints, while others take up watercolors and still others prefer charcoal, pastels or color pencils.

The pen is a precise instrument. It requires a certainty and control in stroke because once it’s made there’s no erasing it or covering it up. If a mistake is made you either have to live with it or start all over. So you have to be sure of what you intend to do. And while ink on its own can be messy and unpredictable, the pen itself is sleek and neat, where together they create a harmony that flows out when one masters the stroke.

So sitting here, giving it some thought, I can see how maybe certain creative personalities do gravitate towards certain mediums and styles. I’m rather neat and orderly in my personal life. Bit of a stickler for semantics. Strong preference for taking my time with things. I despise being rushed unless there’s an emergency. I like things to be refined and elegant yet modest. And to top it off I used to want to be an architect (still do), which is a field all about precision and control as well as creativity. So maybe my love for pen and ink has a lot to do with my personality. I chose it and it chose me because we’re suitable for each other. A perfect match made in an artsy heaven.
I now want to go shop for fountain pens. 😊

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Pen and ink artist inspired by Nature, Beauty, Spirit and Song.

10 thoughts on “Does The Medium Choose The Artist?”

  1. As a scientist and botanical artist I like the control that pencil gives me. I have tried pen and ink work as part of my course, and enjoyed it, but it is really unforgiving of mistakes! My wife has used it for some archaeological illustration and she is far better with it than I am.
    I would like to try paint, especially gouache, but the other advantage of pen or pencil work is that when you are busy and have to grab just a few minutes drawing time you do not need to spend time setting up or mixing pigment and can just sit down and start!

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    1. In the past I tried other media but I always came back to the pen. I tried to do as you did, get out of my comfort zone but I figured if I don’t enjoy what I’m working with why force it. Anything I end up making would be mediocre at best. My way of getting out of my comfort zone now is trying different techniques with pen. Maybe sketching in ballpoint, switching out my technical pens for a dip pen or experimenting with hatching rather than pointillism. I think there’s enough flexibility to using pen and ink to get out of my comfort zone without having to switch to another media altogether. But that’s just me. Some people really enjoy tackling something completely new and different to them.

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  2. I think you’re right. Pens always chose me, too, though I also enjoyed using watercolour ink with brushes but what I’d do was add outlines after the ink dried. (A curious technique.)
    I did pointillism for a few years, but for me I was drawn more by the combinations of colours in the pinpoints than by the precision of it.

    I’m curious – have you ever tried chinese painting? That’s very precise, too. You have to know exactly what you’re going to do before you do it.

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