Monthly Archives: June 2011

Oil painting techniques

23 June 2011

The most ancient oil painting was discovered in caves in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley, they are dated from 650 A.D., and that fact shatters the common theory of Western origin of the oil painting. Anyway, the Europe tradition of the oil painting was discovered there independently, as the tempera and related sources indicate, and it seems to be born in Venice. Such famous drawers as Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya, Monet and Boucher were addicted to the oil painting and have created many exciting masterpieces, using that technique.

  Aside the coloring source, the main part of an oil paint is a linseed oil, extracted from the flax seed, and it’s needed to dilute the coloring source and dry afterwards, leaving the painting solid and finished. Nowadays, the modern science has invented more oil-like liquids which are more convenient to use, but the true masters of oil painting still prefer to use old good linseed oil and prepare the paint themselves.

  The canvas for oil painting is usually made of linen, but the cotton ones are spread as well, because of their less cost. Then, artists have traditionally covered this canvass with animal glue, which has saved the linen from the acidic qualities of the paint.

  First of all, the artist has sketched the outline of his subject on the linen, before applying the oil paint onto it, and then they started to draw. The important thing about it was that they had to prepare their own paints, mix them, and that is why they were mostly grounded to the studio, until in about 1800 year the tube paints has come in usage, and the open air landscape paintings have become popular. For a precise drawing, the skilled artists have used different kinds of brushes, which could express the various effects, like bolder strokes, impasto textures or detail work.

  To talk about the certain techniques, the most vital thing considering the oil painting, is the rule, that the new layer should be applied with a paint that has more oil in it, to provide the fine and proper drying of the painting, otherwise it will just fail. The most spread and widely used technique is also a layer painting, which made possible the adjustment of the previous layer, before applying the next one. Earlier, the artists waited for the layer to dry, before they’ve started to draw further, but in the impressionist era, the Wet-On-Wet method has received its second birth, being used more and more often.

  When the painting is finished and dried (up to a year), the artists use to cover and seal the surface with a layer of varnish, that can be removed later to clean the drawing.

  Though, there is a wide variety of methods and techniques, the oil painting is still popular among the professional artists nowadays, and has a right to be called the most exciting and difficult painting technique.