Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 12 months at 8hrs/week


Artists today use a huge range of materials and techniques. Some refer to the traditions of oil painting and watercolour while others like Turner Prize nominee George Shaw, explore the use of Humbrol enamels and other non traditional materials.

The Understanding Painting Media unit helps you understand the role of painting media in production of artwork. It will provide a structured but experimental approach to a range of painting and drawing media giving you the confidence to develop and express ideas creatively and to expand your understanding of the use of a variety of painting media in contemporary art practice. This unit is ideal for students who wish to discover and experiment with new media and also to specialise and understand a painting medium in more depth.

The Understanding Painting Media unit will lead you through a number of projects, which will allow you to:

  • Experiment freely with a range of drawing and painting media.
  • Gain an understanding of the range of painting media and make informed decisions about how to choose media that are appropriate to your ideas.
  • Broaden your knowledge and understanding of the working methods and media used by a range of contemporary and historical artists.
  • Select and explore, in depth, a medium appropriate to your own ideas and practice.


This unit aims to:

  • A1 introduce the different ways in which painting media can be used and the effects they can create
  • A2 develop your experimental capabilities and confidence using a range of painting media
  • A3 practically explore and research a chosen painting medium in depth
  • A4 increase your knowledge of the contemporary and historical context of a range of painting media and it relevance to your own work.


On completion of the unit you will be able to:

  • LO1 demonstrate through practical exercises experimentation, a range of painting media, techniques and surfaces (A1)
  • LO2 demonstrate the ability to use a broad range of techniques and to offer highly experimental and personal responses in your work (A2)
  • LO3 research visual ideas from a wide range of sources and develop these ideas through critical review and art practice into a concentrated personal project (A3)
  • LO4 research and understand the role of history and context in relation to a personal project (A4)

Course content

  • Experimenting with traditional media, surfaces and techniques: acrylics, oils, gouache, watercolour, inks, tempera, paper, canvas, linen and board.
  • Experimenting with Non-traditional media surfaces and techniques including: food colourings, nail varnish, makeup, hobby and domestic paints, and found surfaces including for example: envelopes, bags, photos and three dimensional objects.
  • Understanding context, media and meaning. You will explore how media carries with it, its history and social context and how it is important to choose the right media for your subject.
  • Choosing your medium – specialising in a chosen medium, production of a self directed project.
  • Written element: A research project into the contemporary and historical use of a specific painting medium.

Course sample

Click here to download: PT4UPM course sample