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Oil Auxiliaries Oil Auxiliaries
Student Grade Oil Colours Student Grade Oil Colours



Oil Paints

 Oil paint is a type of slow-drying paint consisting of small pigment particles suspended in a binder, generally linseed oil. Oil paints have been used in England as early as the 13th century for simple decoration, but were not widely adopted for artistic purposes until the 15th century.

Many artists today consider oil paint to be one of the fundamental art media; something that a student should learn to appreciate, because of its properties and use in previous, very popular artwork. Typical qualities of oil paint include:

  • The long open time, where paint will not dry for up to several weeks, allowing the artist to rework, correct, and even scrape off areas of paint for several sessions.
  • The propensity for the paint to blend into surrounding paint allowing very subtle blending of colors.
  • Vivid, high chroma colors
  • They offer great versatility. Oils can be very opaque, or they can be thinned with a solvent to varying levels of transparency.


Artist Grade Paints
A preferred medium amongst oil painters, the Artist grade paints mainly consist of pigment and linseed oil thus creating the purest colors possible. Although a cerulean blue from one may not look exactly like cerulean blue from another. Some manufacturers add stabilizers to make a creamier paint consistency. Based on the stabilizers used, pigments react differently, causing the color to be darker/ lighter, or more matte/ glossy than the same color from another manufacturer.


Student Grade Paints
Student grade paints contain a lesser proportion of pigment to lower costs. 

Student grade paints are of lower quality than artist grade paints, and contain many more additives which dramatically alter the feel and color of the paint. 


Water-Mixable Oils
Unlike regular oil paints, water-mixable oils can be thinned with water and/or formulated water-mixable mediums. Rather than solvents, these oils can be cleaned up with simple soap and water. They are made with modified linseed oil, and safflower oil, water-mixable pigment load, thereby ensuring the same depth and brilliance of “regular” oils. Also, water-mixable oil paints are certified as non-toxic, and offer a much safer alternative.


Oil Painting Brushes
A wide range of brushes from natural to synthetic bristles may be used, although the choice of brush is largely up to the artist. Each artist can experiment and find ones that suit their needs.

Traditionally oil painting brushes have long handles, so that the artist can work at some distance from the canvas while standing at an easel. The hair is generally firmer and stiffer than for a watercolor brush. The best bristle is male pig bristle, Chungking bristle, that comes from the ridge on the pigs back.

Palette knives can also be a very useful tool for mixing and/or applying oil paints to paintings.


Cleaning Tips

Cleaning brushes is important to ensure a longer life. In the case of oil paints, the brush should be

  • First cleaned off thoroughly with solvent and rags or tissue.
  • Once the brush has been fairly cleaned by the solvent, rub the bristles in a glass or plastic jar with a brush conditioner or hair shampoo.
  • Finally, give the brush a good last rinse and squeeze out all water.

Dry the brush in a tilted position with its hair end lower than the handle end to prevent water from loosening the handle and the ferrule.

Dry brushes may be stored bristle up in a jar, or laid flat. Protective storage containers are advisable.


Oil Painting Surfaces
Any appropriate surface such as Canvas, board, or heavy paper is fine. What is important that the surface should carry its own weight and should also support the weight of the paint.

The surface must be primed so that the paint adheres well. Oil paint must be separated from the surface with some kind of ground such as Gesso. This ground should provide a combination of tooth and absorbency.

How to avoid cracking of paint on drying.
Traditionally artists have applied the general rule of "Fat" and "Lean" painting. "Fat" paint has more oil in it, and "lean" paint has less oil in it. As a painting progresses, each layer applied is made "fatter" than the previous one by adding more medium. The more oil the paint has the more flexible it is. When the over-painting is more flexible than the under-painting, the paint is less likely to crack as it dries.


"Impasto" painting
Impasto refers to a technique used in painting, where paint is laid on an area of the surface (or the entire canvas) very thickly, usually thickly enough that the brush or painting-knife strokes are visible. Paint can also be mixed right on the canvas. When dry, impasto provides texture, the paint coming out of the canvas.

Impasto painting serves several purposes.

  • It makes the light reflect in a particular way, giving the artist additional control over the play of light on the painting.
  • It can add expressiveness to the painting, the viewer being able to notice the strength and speed applied by the artist.
  • Impasto can push a painting into a three dimensional sculptural rendering

However use caution with this technique as thick layers of paint have a tendency to crack as they dry.


Protection of finished oil paintings.
It is a wise idea to protect a finished painting with a coat of protective varnish. However, since it takes around six months to a year for an oil painting to dry thoroughly enough to apply this finishing layer, store your work in a dust free, but not dark storage area, in the meantime


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