What Is Oil Painting

Oil painting is one of the most well-known and respected types of art. Many of the world’s most famous paintings, like the Mona Lisa or The Kiss, were created using oil paints. But what exactly is an oil painting, what makes it so unique, and how is it created?

Oil Painting Definition

Oil painting is a type of painting produced using oil-based paints. Oil painting involves using pigments that use a medium of drying oil as the binder and painting with them on a canvas.

The most common types of oil in oil paints are linseed oil, walnut oil, poppy seed oil, and safflower oil. The choice of oil used in paint impacts the properties of the color and the final outcome of an artwork. Different oil paints may result in more yellowing or affect drying time. 

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Oil painting is an ancient artistic medium. Some other paints, such as graffiti spray art, are less than 100 years old. But oil painting has been around for centuries. There is evidence that oil paint was used as early as the fifth century A.D. 

Historians have found remnants of oil paint used in the Bamian Valley of Afghanistan. They believe ancient Indian and Chinese artists used oil paints to create paintings in the many caves found in this area.

What Is an Oil Painting in Art?

Oil paints are one of the most well-respected and popular types of paints and have long been a favored medium of fine artists. Oil paints produce excellent tones and colors which differentiate oil paints from other painting mediums and materials. Oil paints can also create both satisfactory linear treatment and crisp effects. 

Oil paints are heavier than many other painting mediums, such as ink or watercolor, yet they can still produce transparent, opaque, and translucent paintings. The range of oil paint is surprisingly broad. This type of paint can also create excellent textural variation in a painting.

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Oil painting usually requires an artist to have both skill and patience. The technique for using oil paints usually requires building paint and colors up in layers. This technique was particularly common in older traditional oil paintings. Paint glazes would then be used in the final stages to give the artwork luminosity, brilliance, and depth.

How Are Oil Paints Made and Used?

Oil paints are made by mixing refined oils with powder pigments to create a stiff paste consistency. Steel roller mills then grind down this paint paste. The consistency of oil paint colors is critical in this process. The standard for high-quality oil paint is a smooth paste. 

Oil paints are thicker and heavier than many other types of paint. If an artist wants a more fluid and spreadable paint, they may mix oil paints with a painting liquid such as turpentine. Pure oil paints also take a long time to dry compared to other paints. So in some cases, an artist may add a liquid drying material such as siccative to the paint to accelerate drying.

Will Oil Paintings Fade in Sunlight?

When you collect and display original artwork, you should be mindful of how it will age in different storage conditions. Sunlight, in particular, can cause damage or fade some artworks. However, oil paints are generally fine when kept in an area with sunlight and will only slightly fade over time. 

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However, if there is exposed canvas, the painting may fade faster because sunlight can damage canvas but can not penetrate through oil paint. Artworks made using the common medium of acrylic paint are also resilient in the sunlight.  

Are Oil Paintings a Good Investment?

Many of the world’s most famous paintings are made using oil paints and have lasted several hundred years in good condition. Quality artworks like these oil paintings are certainly a good investment. 

Artworks in general, are usually part of a well-rounded and diverse investment portfolio. Artworks should be enjoyed first and foremost, as investing in art is often a long-term strategy. 

How Are Oil Paintings Preserved?

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Oil paintings are usually coated in varnish as the final layer on the canvas to protect and preserve the paint from the atmosphere, dirt, and minor abrasions. 

Fine art which is displayed in museums will often be preserved in special conditions with minimal lighting and even temperatures. While most collectors won’t be able to create a perfect microclimate for their paintings at home, you can take some precautions when storing oil paints. For example, you can cover your oil paintings with tissue paper, sheets, or foam before storing them. 

Proper storage will help protect the paintings from accumulating dust or collecting moisture. You should ensure an oil painting has air circulation but should be kept in an area safe from bugs or animals.

Enjoying Oil Paintings

You can buy and collect oil paintings as an art investment or enjoy and display them in your home. Eden online art gallery has original paintings for sale by contemporary artists.


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