Home > Art and Painting > Painting With Oils

Painting With Oils

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Painting With Oils Oil Painting Oil

When learning to paint, you cannot learn the creative side of art. The “student” can study art history, understand and observe methodology, and practice by mimicking until he or she finds his or her own style and approach. Here following, then, are instead a few suggested oil painting techniques and tips.

Basic Terms/Techniques for Painting with Oils

Abozzo: the first sketching, the first blocking in, or the first underpainting.

Alla Prima: from Italian for “for the first time,” alla prima is a technique whereby the first application makes for the completed picture. (There is no layering.)

Aesso: an initial primer used on the blank canvas before painting to protect the canvas; and establish an adhering surface (also called a “key”) for the incoming oil paint. (For more information, see our article, Painting on Canvas.)

Alaze(s): thin application of oil paints; transparent; glossy; commonly used in layers to enhance colours and/or add depth.

Impasto: the thick application of pigment with brush or knife that results in deep brush marks or dense impressions left by the oil painting implement.

Medium (sing.)/media (pl.): a medium in oil painting is the binding element or the thickening/thinning element added accordingly to the artist’s pigments.

Overpainting: a finishing layer of oil painting—done over the previous layer after the previous layer(s) has (have) dried.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colours: the primary colours are, of course, red, yellow, and blue. A secondary colour is created by the mixing of two primary colours; likewise, a tertiary colour is made by either the mixing of all three primary colours or by mixing a primary and a secondary colour.

Underpainting: preceding layer(s)—that done first or those applied before overpainting is done.

Basic Suggestions for Painting with Oils

The first rule the seasoned painters will tell you is what they call “fat over lean.” This process is in regards to drying time and effect: apply layers from thinnest to thickest (from least oily to oiliest) to prevent cracking or peeling.

With each layer of painting, incrementally increase your medium…, in this case, oil.

Note: Oil paint dries by oxidation (rather than by evaporation), and takes anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks—though art conservators consider a painting completely “dry” 60 to 80 years later!

Ivory Black as an underpainting dries more slowly; cobalt, lead, manganese are drying accelerants.

Yellowing can occur….

  • if you dry painting in the dark
  • if you use linseed oil in white pigments and blue pigments
  • if you use a lesser quality medium (oil)
Oil painting on canvas is a more versatile art. Unlike with watercolours, for example, whereby you are stuck with your first effort, with oils you can re-think, re-shape, re-do—painting atop what you find undesirable.

What you succeed in doing with oil painting will depend upon how much you inform yourself, how much you practice your art. All the best to you.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kal
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    How to start selling greeting cards online and making extra money and starting a business around at home
    17 November 2018
  • Kal
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    I want to start selling greeting cards online I have to do a form to sign up to selling the cards for
    12 November 2018
  • Fiona
    Re: Making Wreaths
    Hello - how much moss should I buy for a wreath? It seems to be sold by weight .... Thanks!
    11 November 2018
  • Sue Lutz
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Want to make an English pattern but not sure of the following terms: 1.WL. fwd ? Does it mean a YO 2. ? W.O.P.K....NOT SURE…
    7 November 2018
    Re: Copyrighting Your Craft Designs
    My name is Nihal. I can give you 1-5 man 0r woman man power at my home. Making card or Assembling the blocks . I haven’t any…
    6 November 2018
  • Wambi
    Re: Knitting Stitches
    Trying to find out what no stitch" on a chart means. Can you help?
    1 November 2018
  • Carol Tamplin
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    I'm starting to make poncho pattern but some of the terminology is confusing. Is 'stand off ' another term for cast off?
    25 October 2018
  • Elaine
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Knitting a cardigan but do not understand the following: working 1 stitch less at beg of dec row at set, work 12 rows as…
    23 October 2018
  • KIRI
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Knitting a Hat: Katy Tricot, do not understand 'Wrap & Turn. Can you help?
    21 October 2018
  • Lyn
    Re: Knitting Stitches
    I'm knitting a very old aran pattern can you tell me what Tw2F and Tw2B are please
    19 October 2018