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
  • Nellt
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    Cant understand shaking. Inc1 are each end of3rd row and 10 foll 4th rows then on 1 foll 6th rows. Help please.
    4 October 2019
  • Nikki
    Re: Card Stencilling Techniques
    Hi I have been given a few different coloured stencils, I don't know if colour means anything,some r corner ones,others sentiments…
    10 September 2019
  • Mameto
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    I make handmade albums and would be grateful if you could advice me on how I can sell them in uk only Craft fairs have become quit…
    27 July 2019
  • Liz
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    How do I work a row that says: *P1, catch a loop between the 3rd and 4th sts, K1 and pass the loop over these stitches, P1,…
    19 July 2019
  • Gem
    Re: Basic Flower Arranging
    Hello I have joined a flower group and next weeks lesson is crescent flower arranging. Can you give me so basic tips, steps and are…
    25 June 2019
  • Christine
    Re: Making Gel Candles
    What's the difference between wax coated and wax impregnated?
    2 May 2019
  • Jude
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    What does standing off in knitting mean....also cross off mean
    27 April 2019
  • Jojo74
    Re: Glossary of Knitting Terminology
    On my pattern on start it says cast on 37 stitches, commencing with 2nd row of 1x1 rib work 5 rows but after that goes to 6th…
    20 February 2019
  • Radhi
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    Hi, I am from a very small town from Gujarat...I want to sell my qulling envelope online .. please help me.
    4 February 2019
  • Radhi
    Re: Sell Your Home Made Cards
    I want to sell my qulling envelope ...online .. Please help me.
    4 February 2019