The basic oil painting techniques


Oil paint is a type of paint that traces its beginning to early Buddhist paintings discovered in the fifth century. However the popularity of this type of paint didn’t arrive until the 15th century, following an intense development of visual arts. Once this type of paint was famous around the world, representative artists started developing various techniques in order to create powerful emotions. There are various oil painting techniques and their complexity differs a lot. Today we will present 3 basic techniques that will serve as a foundation for future advanced techniques.

Layering is a technique that refers to the drying time of each layer of paint. If you want to avoid a muddy and messy aspect you must allow a proper amount of time for each layer to dry. You can add fresh layers of paint on top of dried layers or semi dried. However, the impressionist style has promoted a wet on wet technique called Alla Prima that allows an artist to finish a painting in a single session. The great thing about this technique is that it allows you to maintain your inspiration and express your current emotions. On the other hand allowing time for the layers to dry gives you the possibility of keeping the colors clean. Furthermore you have a greater control over the colors you use thus allowing you more time to implement more advanced techniques in your art.

Another one of the basic oil painting techniques is glazing. This method’s purpose is to allow the value of the colors to expand. It implies applying a darker transparent oil paint over a lighter opaque layer. The lighter layer should be dried in order to obtain a more powerful effect. This way paintings can express the same intensity and brightness of life. Furthermore these color effects cannot be obtained by mixing other colors so this is the only solution for intensifying a color.

Scumbling is a method that is opposite to glazing. Instead of applying a dark layer over a lighter one, you apply a lighter , opaque layer over a dried or semi-dried darker layer. The upper layer should be thin in order to obtain a less saturated color. This is an oil painting technique used for soft elements such as skin or soft fabrics.

An important lesson that young artists should learn from world known painters is that although studying the classic techniques is important, the essential quality of a real artist is curiosity. Art is a complex domain and as there is no limit to creativity there will never be a limit to the number of techniques that can be discovered. In order to express powerful emotions try to experiment and develop your own oil painting techniques.