Oil paint ranks among the so-called great classic media. It has been used for centuries and, with its steadfast color and durability, has stood the test of time.
There are several reasons behind artists’ love for oils, the most common being versatility. They can fully opaque or have some level of transparency, depending on the amount of solvent used. Drying time is also long enough for the artist to be able to make corrections without making unintended changes.
People usually wonder what materials oil paints are made of. Oil paints are basically pigments suspended in a binder, such as linseed oil. They may also contain other ingredients, like dryers or stabilizers, depending on the manufacturer.
In terms of support, heavy papers, linen, canvas, boards and linen are all appropriate choices. Obviously, the support must have the capacity to carry its own weight, plus the weight of the paint. The support also needs to be prepared correctly for the paint to adhere. The oil paint should be separated from its support through a tooth and absorbency combination that depends on the individual artist.
Below are the most popular methods of oil painting used by artists through the centuries:
In direct painting, the paint is applied in a single layer. This technique can be done in one sitting and needs no waiting time for the next layer to be added.
This technique is more complex and traditional, with the painter adding many layers of paint and manipulating transparencies to achieve the desired outcome. Indirect painting can produce tones and colors with high luminosity.
Fat Over Lean
This one is a very old and basic painting rule – fat paint refers to paint with more oil, while lean paint contains less paint. With the addition of more medium, artists often add fatter layers than those under. More oil in paint means more flexibility.
The impasto technique uses thicker paints with physical dimensionality. This should be done with caution however, as thick layers of paint tend to crack while they dry. Expert painters integrate smaller areas of this technique for better results.
How to Protect Your Oil Painting
The life of a finished oil painting can be prolonged simply by coating it with a protective varnish. But it can take six months to a year for a painting to dry completely, making it safe to add this finishing layer. Of course, at the end of the day, a painting’s longevity still rests on the expertise of the artist, as well as on the quality of the materials he used. A good artist will not just think of art, but also of how he can immortalize his art.