Why I like traditional art media

I use traditional media in my art for many reasons. Digital art has much going for it, being more accessible than traditional paint and brushes. There’s no need to buy and store all those supplies, and it’s easier to distribute the art: 

But for all that, I still prefer traditional media in creating my work. It has something to do with our senses and our world.

With traditional media, there’s a ‘sensory diversity‘. Our minds are exposed to various textures and tactile sensations through our hands and touch. A tasty plate of food has a contrasting textures, flavours, and colours that work together. Our sense of touch requires that same diversity.

Traditional art media like paint, canvas, brushes and even your hands make for a richer sensory diet. We forget how important touch is to our existence; there are a lot of nerve endings in our hands, skin and mouth.

Sometimes, I want to lick oil paint. It has that quality, which is hardly surprising since it is oil.

Using a keyboard, mouse or graphics tablet, such a range is reduced to the same sensory input of buttons, a mouse and plastic. In a way, think of it as ‘sensory deprivation.’

It is not just art; people still like to read traditional printed books because of the tactile quality of the paper on their skin, a physical object, not just some glowing screen. There’s a sensuality in traditional art media not found in digital form. Many of us are deprived of that richness, affecting us mentally in subtle ways.

I’m not opposed to digital art or making it. Still, the continuing popularity of traditional art media is a sign that we are suffering from sensory deprivation in a ‘head-driven’ world. 

Using paint, brushes, pastels: mixing, scraping, drizzling, throwing, drawing, scratching, moulding. All as a way to reconnect with our senses and away from overthinking. Art is a ”feast for the eyes,” in the making; it can also be a ‘feast for our skin.’

Leave a comment