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OIL PAINTING is done on surfaces with pigments that are ground and mixed into a medium of oil especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Other oils occasionally used include poppyseed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. These oils give various properties to the oil paint, such as less yellowing or different drying times. Certain differences are also visible in the sheen of the paints depending on the oil. Painters often use different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular feel depending on the mediums. A basic rule of oil paint application is 'fat over lean.' This means that each additional layer of paint should be a bit oilier than the layer below, to allow proper drying. Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with paint mixed with turpentine. As a painting gets additional layers, the paint must get oilier (leaner to fatter) or the final painting will crack and peel. There are many other painting mediums that can be used in oil painting, including cold wax, resins, and varnishes. These additional mediums can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or 'body' of the paint, and the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke. These variable are closely related to the expressive capacity of oil paint. When looking at original oil paintings, the various traits of oil paint allow one to sense the choices the artist made as they applied the paint. For the viewer, the paint is still, but for the artist, the oil paint is a liquid or semi-liquid and must be moved 'onto' the painting surface. Traditionally, moving paint was accomplished with paint brushes, but there are other methods, including the palette knife, the rag, and even directly from the paint tube. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists' materials, so a reality in many painter's studios is the removal of oil paint from the painting. This can be done with a rag and some turpentine for a certain time while the paint is wet, but after a while, the hardened layer must be scraped. Many oil paintings reveal evidence of such scraping on close inspection, particularly when the surface itself is examined. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch in a day to two weeks Traditional artists' canvas is made from linen, but the less expensive cotton fabric has gained popularity. The artist first prepares a wooden frame called a stretcher" or "strainer." The difference between the first and second is that stretchers are slightly adjustable, while strainers are rigid and lack adjustable corner notches. The canvas then pulled across the wooden frame and tacked or stapled tightly to the back edge. The next step is for the artist to apply a ground (or size) to isolate the canvas from the acidic qualities of the paint. Traditionally, the canvas was coated with a layer of rabbit skin glue and primed with subsequent layers of finely ground chalk (or marble dust) and rabbit skin glue. Later the process was changed to a sizing of rabbit skin glue with subsequent layers of white priming (gypsum, chalk, barium oxide, titianium(IV) dioxide mixed with linseed oil). Modern gessos are made of titianium dioxide with an acrylic binder and are not "real" gessos in the true sense of the word. The artist might apply several layers of gesso, sanding each smooth after it has dried. Sanding the primed surface is important to roughen the generally slick surface so the subsequent layers of oils will properly adhere. It is possible to tone the gesso to a particular color, but most store-bought gesso is white. The gesso layer will tend to draw the oil paint into the porous surface, depending on the thickness of the gesso layer. Excessive or uneven gesso layers are sometimes visible in the surface of finished paintings as a change in the layer that's not from the paint. The artist most often uses a brush to apply the paint. Brushes are made from a variety of fibers to create different effects. For example, brushes made with hogs bristle might be used for bolder strokes. Brushes made from miniver, which is squirrel fur, might be used for finer details. Sizes of brushes also create different effects. For example, a "round" is a pointed brush used for detail work. "Bright" brushes are used to apply broad swaths of color. The artist might also apply paint with a palette knife, which is a flat, metal blade. A palette knife may also be used to remove paint from the canvas when necessary. A variety of unconventional tools, such as rags, sponges, and cotton swabs, may be used. Some artists even paint with their fingers.


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