A Few Facts About Oils

4.1 Three

Oils have a quite unjustified reputation for being difficult so I will detail a few tips that may change your mind!  At the end of the post you will find a great link to help you preserve your masterpieces.

  • Oils are the most forgiving of all the painting media.
  • Oils dry very slowly and give you plenty of time to think about your approach.
  • You can easily rework the paint if you change your mind.
  • Oil-painting is less technique led than say, watercolour.
  • Right from the start, a would-be artist can produce pleasing images with a richness and depth of colour unmatched by any other medium.
  • With tube paints, the pigment is held in an oil-binding medium, usually linseed oil.
  • Paint from the tube can be thinned down with solvent, (preferably the odourless variety) turps or a mixture of either with linseed oil.  (I do not use turps due to its toxicity.  I thin my tube paint down with either linseed, walnut or safflower oils only.)  The choice is yours.
  • Various effects can be obtained by thinning down the paint or using it fresh from the tube. Other types of thinners are available at art shops. Odourless thinners seem to be most popular with artists nowadays.
  • Work can be built up in a succession of thin layers or applied directly as thick dabs of buttery, creamy, textured colour.
  • Paint surfaces can end up either smooth and glossy or thickly encrusted with swirling paint.  Australian artist Ben Quilty shows us great examples of the latter style in his work.
  • Oil paints can be used on hardboard, canvas boards, stretched canvas and paper.

With the above work, I chose to paint the goup in oils and in a Sfumato style. I thinned down the paint and applied probably 6 or 7 layers allowing the work to dry for a couple of days between each.  It took ages!

“Sfumato” is an Italian word meaning “to evaporate like smoke”.  The Mona Lisa was done in this style. There are no harsh outlines with areas of different colours blending together.

The following site is a great reference on how to preserve your oil paintings: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/conservation/oil-paintings/


One thought on “A Few Facts About Oils

  1. Pingback: An Easy Exercise with Oil Crayons after Modigliani | Zen School for Creative People

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