Understanding art terms like medium enables us to better appreciate paintings. Medium refers to the material or technique by which the painting is created.
 
Oil on canvas, one of the most common medium, is a painting that is created by applying oil paint on canvas.  Oil paint is a ground pigment suspended in oil to use as paint while canvas is a material that is often cotton or linen used as a surface for painting.
 
While most oil paintings are painted on canvas, oil can also be applied on other surfaces. Oil on paper is oil painted on paper while oil on wood panel is oil painted on a wooden surface. 
 
Watercolour is a medium that most of us are exposed to in school.  It is a a transparent paint created by using gum arabic as a pigment binder and water is used to dissolve and disperse it.  Watercolour is usually applied onto paper to create watercolour paintings.
 
Acrylic is a plastic (synthetic) water based paint. Acrylic can be applied onto canvas, paper, board, wooden panels. 
 
Oil, watercolour and acrylic are the three most common mediums for western painting.

Read: #11: Understanding the label on the wall in an art exhibition

How to appreciate paintings? Understanding art terms like medium enable us to better appreciate paintings.  

Painting Image: Abstract I by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg

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