Sunday, August 09, 2009

MAM Poll (July) Results: Preferred media for studio painting

Types of painting media used in the studio
Types of painting media used in the studio: % share of a total of 306 stated preferences
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Which is your preferred media for studio painting? The answer is "watercolour" which was a clear winner in this month's poll. However traditional oils only just scraped into second place ahead of acrylics.

In June we looked at which was your preferred media for painting plein air (see MAM Poll June: Which is your preferred media for painting plein air?) and all the difficulties that context can pose if using certain media. In July, the poll shifted focus to an environment which offers much more scope for control and the question was Which is your preferred media for studio painting?

Rather later than usual these are the results of last month's Making A Mark Poll.

I've produced two charts this month. The poll allowed multiple responses based on media used on a regular basis rather than those you might use occasionally. The two charts reflect different perspectives based on the fact that 147 people provided 306 responses in total - which is not bad considering this we're in the middle of the slow-down for the summer season.

You can see both of the charts more clearly while you read if you right click on the image and then open in a separate tab. That's how I write this post! :)
  • Chart 1: shows how 306 responses are distributed across the different types of media
  • Chart 2: indicates how the 147 painters favoured different types of media in terms of their stated preferences (which total 208%).
In both charts the analysis clearly demonstrates that:
  • watercolour is the most popular medium in the studio. This is probably because this blog is read by a lot of people who paint for their own enjoyment and watercolour tends to be favoured by the non-professional artist.
  • traditional oils just edge into second place ahead of acrylics. It's very clear that acrylics have become a very popular medium. I find it very surprising that this isn't reflected in the art instruction books or media art societies specifically for the acrylic medium.
Types of painting media used in the studio:
Percentage share of stated preferences of 147 people (totals 201%)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Key findings
  • In general, people are more flexible about the media they use in a studio compared to painting plein air. Plein air artists identified an average of 1.4 media they preferred to use while 147 studio painters identified 306 media - an average of 2.1 media per studio painter. This isn't in the least surprising. All but the most dedicated "everything and the kitchen sink" artists are unlikely to take all their studio contents out into the field if they are happy using just one medium.
  • Watercolour is the most popular and adaptable medium: in both polls, watercolour was the most popular medium. However it was much more popular for plein air use than studio use - 29% of all plein air responses compared to 18% of studio responses favoured. One possible reason for this is the issue of drying time.
  • Traditional oils just beat acrylics for studio use. While there is a strong tradition of using traditional oils plein air (24% of all stated preferences), it would appear that the problems with solvents has made them much less popular in the studio (only 15% of all stated preferences) where acrylics look set to overtake them in time (given a result of 14% of all stated preferences)
  • acrylics are favoured for studio use: artists are much happier using acrylic in the studio compared to painting plein air (14% compared to 6% of all stated preferences fpor studio and plein air respectively)
  • mixed media artwork is five times more likely to occur in the studio 10% of all stated preferences for studio working compared to 2% plein air. This is possibly because people cut down on the media they take out with them and/or prefer the control over mixing media which is possible in a studio.
  • pastellists are slightly more likely to use soft/hard pastels plein air compared to a studio setting - 16% compared to 9% of all stated preferences use them in the field and in the studio respectively. Oil pastels continue to be a minority interest in the studio as they are when used plein air.
  • coloured pencils are popular for use in a studio setting - coloured pencils were identified by 13% of all stated responses. However this needs to be considered in the context that this blog has many more coloured pencil artists reading it than most. I included coloured pencils in the sketching survey but they were not included as an option in the painting plein air poll
  • water miscible oils and alkyds are slightly more popular in a studio setting compared to plein air - however most people don't use them. 5% and 4% respectively of all stated studio preferences. I can only imagine this is possibly down to them not having a major profile in, for example, articles by the most popular artists and/or on their websites and blogs. (Note: If you're using them please say so and highlight any good blog post about them!). The increased popularity in a studio setting may well be due to the problems which some people experience with the use of certain solvents with oil paints.
  • Gouache and artist quality inks have a strong minority following in a studio setting. They represent 5% and 4% of all stated preferences.
  • Casein, egg tempera and encaustic are used by very few artists - This media provides an opportunity for your work to stand out in a crowd of oil painters and watercolourists! :)
Later today or early tomorrow I'll post a new poll for August.


visioneerwindows said...

Do you have a breakdown regarding whether UK or US for these? wonder if perhaps more British use watercolors than americans, for instance, and the survey reflects strong British presence?

Secondly, am delighted at how many seem to use artist inks - guess can consider that as pen and ink? - considering the dirth of instructions and such for using this medium for fine art purposes [as opposed to sketching and drawing prelims], tho, in my case, am pushing it thru

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Well as you can see if you click on my Clustr Map (top right of right hand column) this blog might be written by somebody living in the UK but it's visited and read by people living all over the world - with some 55% coming from North America alone!

If you go to forums like Wet Canvas and look at the different media forums you'll quickly come to appreciate that the watercolour forums are always the most popular and can be very busy indeed.

Similarly if you look at art instruction books the majority of media oriented 'how to paint' books are for watercolourists

All of which independently validates a notion that watercolour is very popular!

mongoose1 said...

Thank you for the survey feedback Katherine. I was surprised that watercolors finished ahead of oils.

I always wonder what kind of support oil painters use-I prefer linen on board (glued), or even just taped-and given a choice double oil or single oil primed. But I see people using copper, airplane aluminum and a host of other surfaces.


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