The journey of the art of oil painting is an intriguing one. Certain periods have proved to be more receptive of the art form than others. This form of painting is believed to have originated in Afghanistan. When the process was first invented, it was not used for art purposes; however, artisans quickly realized the potential that oil painting possessed. From Afghanistan, the form traveled through Europe to finally arrive in central Europe, the art capital of the world, sometime in the 15th century. There are records of European artisans using this from of painting in the 15th century. The form really came into its own during the renaissance and post renaissance periods in Europe and the English Mainland.
The term oil painting denotes the use of oil in the paintings. For one, the pigments used to paint are mixed with oil or rather the base medium is oil. The oil that is usually used is Linseed Oil. Linseed Oil is harvested from Flax seeds that are easily available. A few other oils are used in the place of Linseed Oil. These include Walnut Oil and poppy seed oil. Mixing the dry pigments in oil helps to bring out a version of the color that no other medium can. Different oils produce different gloss intensities. The sheen can therefore vary depending on the oil used to mix the pigments. The oil-pigment mixture is painted onto a canvas. Oil Paintings are strictly canvas art. Canvas Art refers to those forms that use the canvas as a base. A thinner material may not be able to sustain and retain the color and effect.
Oil painting is never done directly on a canvas. The design or scenery s first etched onto the canvas using a pencil or charcoal based drawing implement. The oil mixed pigments are then slowly colored in. The oil based pigments do not dry quickly. Therefore the process of painting has to a slow one. Sometimes to hasten the process, artists mix a quantity of turpentine into the mixture. Since turpentine dries quickly, it helps the oil paints to also dry faster. Very rarely does the artist manage to paint the entire picture in one coating. If the artist decides to use a second coating, then the mixture has to be changed.
Every subsequent layer of oil paints should have a higher content of oil. This actually helps to quicken the drying process. Given that the paints are rendered heavy by the thick oil base, drying oil paintings is a real skill and one which requires patience. The oil paints do not dry by evaporation, like other paintings, such as water color paintings. Oil paintings dry by the process of oxidation.
Many oil paintings also make use of other mediums. The most commonly used ones are Resins and wax. Both add to the effect of the oil pants and at the same time affect the sheen and texture of the oil paints. The use of other mediums can even adversely affect the design of the painting. But this is true for any art form that attempt to mix two different mediums. The oil paintings have to be coated with a layer of varnish before it is considered finished. The varnish helps to protect the painting.