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What Are Oil Paintings

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Quiet Morning 8x16 By Mary Johnston
Quiet Morning 8x16 By Mary Johnston
Cherry Sky 10x10 By Leslie Pilgrim
Cherry Sky 10x10 By Leslie Pilgrim
Victoria Harbor 10x10 By Leslie Pilgrim
Victoria Harbor 10x10 By Leslie Pilgrim
SET OF 2(14626-14627)
SET OF 2(14626-14627)
Set Of Two (14196-97)
Set Of Two (14196-97)
Flower Powers 13,10&15
Flower Powers 13,10&15

Oil paintings are a type of artwork using oil-bound pigments.  There is some disagreement about just how this entered into the art arena, but it can generally be agreed upon that it became popular towards the mid 15th century and developed from work with tempera.  It was first used as something of a hybrid, with the artists possibly starting the pictures in tempera, then, finishing them with the new product.  As time progressed, they were made without the under-layer of tempera, although various reasons have been suggested for this.  The climate in Flanders and Venice being more appropriate for oil paintings was one such suggestion.  Another suggestion addresses how the range and flexibility provided by this new option was superior in indicating the expression of reality.  It also offers the benefit of richer colors.  In early usage, it was still used similarly to the tempera usage, with flat strokes and smooth lines.

Van Eyck and other Flemish artists tend to have a combination look to their artwork.  Vermeer and other Dutch artists used them in a more opaque way and minus more overt tempera beginnings, but the paint still tended to be smooth.  Rembrandt was one of the initial introductions to the usage of impasto, with its thick applications of color and the visible brush stroke as qualities to achieve.

Originally, the color for oil paintings was not able to be kept for much time and needed to be ground by hand.  It needed to be made in fresh batches for prompt use, until the introduction of tubes of metal.  This, of course, also offered the benefit of the artist no longer having to make his own.  Now the artists could spend more time on the ideas for the artwork, and his vision for his picture, and less time on the components necessary to reach the point where he could share that vision with others.

When preparing to create oil paintings, the artist tends to sketch out the picture on the prepared canvas before painting it.  He will want to be sure he has a good steady easel so the picture doesn’t rock or wobble.  This sketch may be done with charcoal, or it may be done with thinned color.  He will want to consider his brushes and think about the different strokes he may want to make within the picture.  A hog’s bristle brush will produce a thick stroke and will give a different feeling to the picture than a brush made of squirrel fur and used for finer detail.  Artist grade mineral spirits, turpentine, or another solvent may be used to do this with the artist’s oil paintings.  The best way to do the application is in layers with each successive layer being oilier than the one before.  This makes the piece more flexible and, if not done this way, the artwork may peel and crack.  Since these take much longer to dry than many other materials, an artist can make changes to the work in progress or may even decide to remove an entire layer.  If the artwork is still wet, a rag and turpentine will do the trick, but if it has had time to dry it will need to be scraped.


Back to main topic: Oil Paintings
Oil Paintings: How to choose
Botanical Paints Common Oil Painting Theme
Oil Painting Artists
Oil Painting Replicas
Finding Oil Paintings For Sale
Modern Paintings And Their History
Oil Painting Replicas Are An Option To Consider
The Attraction of Abstract Art Paintings

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