Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Process of oil painting

The process of oil painting varies from artist to artist, but frequently includes certain steps. First, the artist prepares the surface. Although surfaces like linoleum panel, paper, slate, pressed wood, and cardboard have been used, the most well-liked surface since the 16th century has been canvas, even though many artists used panel through the 17th century and beyond. Before that it was panel, which is more luxurious, heavier, less easy to transport, and prone to warp or split in poor conditions. For fine detail, however, the absolute solidity of a wooden panel gives an advantage.

The artist might sketch an outline of their subject prior to apply pigment to the surface. "Pigment" may be any number of natural substances with color, such as sulphur for yellow or cobalt for blue. The pigment is varied with oil, usually linseed oil but other oils may be used as well. The various oils dry in a different way creating assorted effects.

Traditionally, an artist assorted his or her own paints for each project. Handling and mixing the raw pigments and mediums was prohibitive to transportation. This changed in the late 1800s, when oil paint in tubes became extensively available. Artists could mix colors rapidly and easily without having to grind their own pigments. Also, the portability of tube paints allowed for plein air, or outdoor painting.


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