Oil Paint 101
Oil paint is easy to use once you learn the basics. It is a slow drying medium so you can remove what you don't like while it's wet or you can paint over it when it's dry. Oil paint is dry pigment mixed with linseed oil. Linseed oil is a drying oil that takes oxygen from the air and creates a solid that encases the pigment in a permanent form.
Why Oil Painting?
Oils have been many artists' first choice for hundreds of years, and with good reason. The colors are very rich and they last forever. Painters that dabble in various mediums will often prefer oils over all others. There is nothing quite like the intensity and texture of this medium.
Oils are a wonderful medium for plein air painting as they are slow drying and the rich pigments are perfect for capturing the light and mood of a location.
Tips for Painting with Oils
1. Safety first.
• pigments in oil paint often contain hazardous chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin, wear protective gloves and clothing
• water soluble oils are recommended as they limit your exposure to turpentine and other solvents, if using solvents always work in a well ventilated area
• turpentine is highly flammable, and even rags that have absorbed the medium can self-ignite if not properly thrown away
2. Paint “fat over lean”.
• start with thin washes of paint, progressively layer with less medium and thicker paint (preventing layers of paint from drying unevenly, causing the surface of artwork to crack)
3. Save the paint!
• if you are not planning to paint for awhile, put your palette of oil paint in the freezer to keep paint wet
4. Keep the paint on the canvas.
• baby wipes are perfect for cleaning oil paint off surfaces and art tools
Give it a try!
Oils are a medium that are in a class all their own. They really are a pleasure to paint with once you have learned to work with the materials. Try it out for yourself and see what you think. Check out our Oil painting tutorials for information on everything from materials and setup to composition and color theory. Be sure to visit our social forums with any questions!