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Art Glossary: Medium


Liquin impasto oil painting medium

Liquin impasto oil painting medium mixed with rose madder oil paint.

Photo ©2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The term medium has various meanings. For starters, it's used for the substance that binds the pigment in paint. In acrylic paints, this is a synthetic substance. In oil paints, it's a natural oil such as poppy. In tempera, it's egg yolks.

A medium can also be something used to change the consistency of the paint. For example, a gel medium is used to thicken paint for impasto.

To add to the confusion, the term medium is also used to describe a category of painting or simply a type of paint, such as oil painting, acrylics, or watercolors.

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