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Oil Painting Basics: The starting point to learn painting

The Beginners’ Guide You Can’t Miss.

There are many new artists today who come across the fatal choice without knowing how to decide: oil painting or acrylic? On the one hand, the incredibles masterpieces of the history of painting, with the colors used by Leonardo Da Vinci for the “Mona Lisa”. On the other hand, modernity, polymers, and artificial resins, still be the innovations of the twentieth century art. Today, in this article,we will take part oil colors: we will briefly explain their origin. We will outline their main characteristics, their pros and cons, and see together everything necessary to paint with this color technique.
Oil painting basics
Oil Painting Basics: The starting point to learn painting

Oil Painting: The Origins

Many believe that oil colors were completely unknown until 1400 when the Flemish Jan van Eyck ‘invented’ them. There is much evidence that oil painting already existed in previous centuries. Oil colors are already mentioned by Marco Vitruvio Pollione, Pliny the Elder, and Galen. Undoubtedly, the Flemish painters made many new improvements, and we owe them the credit for having brought oil colors to the center of the painting technique.  Those who already know the characteristics of this painting technique cannot be surprised by the enthusiasm with which Vasari describes it in “Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori” ( The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects). He writes about oil painting as a technique that “lights up the colors more, and nothing else must be done but care and love, because the oil itself brings the softer, sweeter and more delicate color, and of union and nuance more easily than others.” And Vasari‘s eulogy for oil painting does not stop there. Oil painting basics_artguilds He said that the painters who adopt this peculiar technique “often give us an important opinion of their figures and that they come out of the canvas, and most of all when they are continued with good drawing with invention and beautiful manner”. Together with Flemish works, oil colors spread throughout Europe.  In the past, oil colors were already used with mixed techniques, but the results were far from being comparable to those achieved in the Netherlands. To bring to Italy oil colors in the Flemish painting technique, was Antonello da Messina. Got back from a trip to Flanders, his works started a revolution. Venice, Naples, Urbino, Rome one after the other the cities remained subjugated in front of the brilliance and details of the works painted with oil colors. We will mention Vasari again, to underline the climate that had been created, and highlight that there was absolutely no doubt about the superiority of these color technique: “it was a beautiful invention and a great comfort to the art of painting to find the oil color.”

Oil Painting Colors: Pros And Cons

Oil painting basics_artguilds
Well, we have seen the origin of oil painting, and how it still remains the main choice of artists. But Which are the main characteristics of these colors Which are the peculiarities that push us to embrace this technique rather than others? Which are the characteristics that intimidate other painters, and drive them into the arms of acrylic painting? Well, this painting technique requires a certain experience before they can be used satisfactorily and pleasantly: from the dilution phase onwards, every single step requires a certain mastery. Yes, the pictorial possibilities offered by this ancient technique are extremely varied: it is possible to achieve nuances and complex effects otherwise unattainable, but it is equally true that drying times are long, sometimes very long. This waiting time gives us the possibility to make changes and correct mistakes but, in the case of subsequent drafts, this time requirement can become excessive and hindering, especially for those in a hurry to get to the final result. If you like this article, I recommend you also his second part: “Oil Painting Brushes: A Guide To Make The Right Choice”


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