oil painting


  • Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists’ materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure.

  • Smaller paintings, with very fine detail, were easier to paint on a very firm surface, and wood panels or copper plates, often reused from printmaking, were often chosen for
    small cabinet paintings even in the 19th century.

  • Since the 19th century the different main colors are purchased in paint tubes pre-prepared before painting begins, further shades of color are usually obtained by mixing small
    quantities together as the painting process is underway.

  • Renaissance techniques used a number of thin almost transparent layers or glazes, usually each allowed to dry before the next was added, greatly increasing the time a painting

  • Tubes of paint Old masters usually applied paint in thin layers known as “glazes” that allow light to penetrate completely through the layer, a method also simply called “indirect

  • Such works were painted on wooden panels, but towards the end of the 15th century canvas began to be used as a support, as it was cheaper, easier to transport, allowed larger
    works, and did not require complicated preliminary layers of gesso (a fine type of plaster).

  • Supports for oil painting The earliest oil paintings were almost all panel paintings on wood, which had been seasoned and prepared in a complicated and rather expensive process
    with the panel constructed from several pieces of wood, although such a support has a tendency to warp.

  • [10] Although surfaces like linoleum, wooden panel, paper, slate, pressed wood, Masonite, and cardboard have been used, the most popular surface since the 16th century has
    been canvas, although many artists used panel through the 17th century and beyond.

  • This method was created due to the advent of painting outdoors, instead of inside a studio, because while outside, an artist did not have the time to let each layer of paint
    dry before adding a new layer.

  • Artists could mix colors quickly and easily, which enabled, for the first time, relatively convenient plein air painting (a common approach in French Impressionism) Ingredients
    The linseed oil itself comes from the flax seed, a common fiber crop.

  • Oil paint was used by Europeans for painting statues and woodwork from at least the 12th century, but its common use for painted images began with Early Netherlandish painting
    in Northern Europe, and by the height of the Renaissance, oil painting techniques had almost completely replaced the use of egg tempera paints for panel paintings in most of Europe, though not for Orthodox icons or wall paintings, where tempera
    and fresco, respectively, remained the usual choice.

  • A brush is most commonly employed by the artist to apply the paint, often over a sketched outline of their subject (which could be in another medium).

  • [1] But the process is slower, especially when one layer of paint needs to be allowed to dry before another is applied.

  • By 1540, the previous method for painting on panel (tempera) had become all but extinct, although Italians continued to use chalk-based fresco for wall paintings, which was
    less successful and durable in damper northern climates.

  • [8] This became much more common in the 16th century, as may painters began to draw attention to the process of their painting, by leaving individual brushstrokes obvious,
    and a rough painted surface.

  • The artworks display a wide range of pigments and ingredients, and even included the use of a final varnish layer.

  • For example, a “round” is a pointed brush used for detail work.

  • Traditionally, the canvas was coated with a layer of animal glue (modern painters will use rabbit skin glue) as the size and primed with lead white paint, sometimes with added

  • An artist’s palette, traditionally a thin wood board held in the hand, is used for holding and mixing paints.

  • Techniques Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint.

  • Safflower oil or the walnut or poppyseed oil are sometimes used in formulating lighter colors like white because they “yellow” less on drying than linseed oil, but they have
    the slight drawback of drying more slowly and may not provide the strongest paint film.

  • The adoption of oil paint by Europeans began with Early Netherlandish painting in Northern Europe, and by the height of the Renaissance, oil painting techniques had almost
    completely replaced the use of tempera paints in the majority of Europe.

  • Several contemporary artists use a combination of both techniques to add bold color (wet-on-wet) and obtain the depth of layers through glazing.

  • The refinement of this painting technique and the survival of the paintings into the present day suggests that oil paints had been used in Asia for some time before the 7th

  • A palette knife may also be used to remove paint from the canvas when necessary.

  • Initially the aim was, as with the established techniques of tempera and fresco, to produce a smooth surface when no attention was drawn to the brushstrokes or texture of
    the painted surface.

  • When the image is finished and has dried for up to a year, an artist often seals the work with a layer of varnish that is typically made from dammar gum crystals dissolved
    in turpentine.

  • Traditionally, paint was most often transferred to the painting surface using paintbrushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags.

  • Outdoor surfaces and surfaces like shields—both those used in tournaments and those hung as decorations—were more durable when painted in oil-based media than when painted
    in the traditional tempera paints.

  • The artists of the Italian regions moved towards canvas in the early 16th century, led partly by a wish to paint larger images, which would have been too heavy as panels.

  • At times, the painter might even remove an entire layer of paint and begin anew.

  • It has been the most common technique for artistic painting on wood panel or canvas for several centuries, spreading from Europe to the rest of the world.

  • An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired.

  • Among the earliest impasto effects, using a raised or rough texture in the surface of the paint, are those from the later works of the Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini, around

  • Panels continued to be used well into the 17th century, including by Rubens, who painted several large works on wood.

  • Excessive or uneven gesso layers are sometimes visible in the surface of finished paintings as a change that’s not from the paint.

  • The underpainting or ground beneath these was usually white (typically gesso coated with a primer), allowing light to reflect back through the layers.

  • It is possible to make the gesso a particular color, but most store-bought gesso is white.

  • [7] At this period, it was probably used for painting sculptures, carvings and wood fittings, perhaps especially for outdoor use.

  • A basic rule of oil paint application is ‘fat over lean’, meaning that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying.

  • Small cabinet paintings were also made on metal, especially copper plates.


Works Cited

[‘Osborne, 787
2. ^ Archaeology, Current World (6 July 2008). “World’s oldest use of oil paint found in Afghanistan”. World Archaeology. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
3. ^ “Synchrotron light unveils oil in ancient Buddhist paintings from Bamiyan”. www.esrf.eu.
Retrieved 12 April 2020.
4. ^ “Afghan caves hold world’s first oil paintings: expert”. www.abc.net.au. 25 January 2008.
5. ^ April 2008, Live Science Staff 22 (22 April 2008). “Earliest Oil Paintings Discovered”. livescience.com.
6. ^ Borchert
(2008), 92–94
7. ^ Osborne, 787, 1132
8. ^ Osborne, 787
9. ^ Osborne, 787–788
10. ^ Haaf, Beatrix (1987). “Industriell vorgrundierte Malleinen. Beiträge zur Entwicklungs-, Handels- und Materialgeschichte”. Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie
und Konservierung. 1: 7–71.
2. Borchert, Till-Holger. Van Eyck. London: Taschen, 2008. ISBN 3-8228-5687-8
3. Osborne, Harold (ed), The Oxford Companion to Art, 1970, OUP, ISBN 019866107X
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mukumbura/4042180234/’]