The oil-based painting method is a grand style every artist wants to be proficient in, either as a professional or a learner. It involves the use of pigments suspended in drying oil which serve as the binder, unlike other methods like the watercolor painting, in which the pigment is suspended in water. Oils like the poppy seed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil, and linseed oil are used in making the drying oil, but the most commonly used is the linseed oil. The linseed oil is extracted from the seed of the flax plant

It is said that oil paints were first used by Western Afghanistan painters, in the 7th century, as found in caves in the Bamiyan valley. But it only became popular in the 15th century, during the middle ages, by a Belgian artist, Jan Van Eyck. He developed oil painting by mixing the oil extract from nuts, linseed oil, and colors altogether. However, despite this, Jan Van Eyck can’t really be called the inventor of oil painting as historical discoveries have revealed the earlier use.

Essential Oil painting materials

If you are considering trying out oil painting, here is a few supplies you can’t do without:

1. Oil Paints

Today, oil paints are made in well-concealed tubes. But before the invention of paint tubes by John Goffe Rand in 1841, pig bladders and glass syringes were commonly used to keep paints.

There are various available brands of oil paints, with different qualities. Moreover, oil paints are produced in two major grades; one for professional artists, and the other for students. The quality of the artists’ grade is purposely made better than that of the students’ because artists need theirs for professional works.

Oil paints are particularly good for painting because due to their slow drying characteristics, artists have a good chance of making corrections to their painting wherever they feel it is needed. It reduces the fear of errors, as it can patiently be corrected. But the demerit, however, is that it takes a long period of time to finish artworks made with oil paints. The drying takes months, or even a year to be completed. And that, in turn, can alter the anxiousness of a customer.

2. Canvas

Canvas is a type of coarse cloth, usually woven from hemp, used for making tents or as a painting surface. Though canvas is not the only surface used in oil painting as most people think, it is just the common and widely accepted surface that is most suitable.

Because oil paints are opaque, a pencil can be used to sketch on the canvas before the application of the paint itself. Due to this attribute of the oil paint, no damage or harm will be done to the finished work.

3. Paint Brushes

Brushes are the materials through which paints are applied on the canvas, and they come in various sizes and shapes for the same but unique purposes.

  • The flat tuft brushes are used for applying paints on an expanse area of the work
  • The round tuft brushes are used for detail working and are pointed.
  • Brights are flat tuft brushes that have shorter hair, compared to the normal flat tuft. The tuft is less in flexibility than the flat which is more easily bendable.
  • Filberts also have a flat tuft, but the corners are rounded. It is oval in shape and bluntly pointed.

The best oil paint brushes are made from the hair on the tail of the Siberian weasel, and are called “kolinsky sable.” They are of the finest quality, and of greater preference among oil painting artists. Some brushes like the ones made from squirrels hair are not recommended for oil painting.

4. Palette and its knife

Mixing oil paints on just anything is not ideal; neither is using brushes to mix them good enough. Professionally, a palette is the surface on which oil paints are mixed, and the palette knife is used to mix paints together to achieve a well blended and smooth mixture. Modern palettes have little curved in spaces into which paints are poured out of their tubes. But oil paints do not really require this because they are of high viscosity and can’t easily run off the palette, which for oil painting is usually wooden.



The palette knife is also used to carry out certain types of application of the oil paints to get effects that paint’s brushes can’t help achieve, and to remove paints on the canvas.

5. Extra drying oil

Although oil paints include drying oil as an ingredient, oil painting artists often have extra drying oils of which linseed oil is the most common, to change the consistency of the paints they make use of. This helps to improve the fluidity of the paint and also slow the drying time.

To reduce the drying period, oil painting experts use siccative (a catalyst used to promote drying) to speed up the process.

6. Turpentine

Turpentine is a liquid of higher viscosity than water, which is obtained from pine tree woods. In painting, it serves as a solvent and paints thinner. Instead of water, it is used to clean brushes during oil painting.

Famous Oil painting Artworks

The most valued and highly priced oil painting artworks are those of the past, which were done by the renowned artists of the industry many years back. Today, these artists works are placed in museums and admired by art lovers worldwide, for the fact that they are vintage, unique and gorgeous.

Art lovers pay astonishing amounts to acquire great works of oil painting art they love, which to an ordinary art admirer would seem outrageous. But such is the precious value of oil paintings to those who know the worth. These paintings are bought to beautify the home, and for the high status, it bestows upon the owners. So, they are not only bought for beautification.

Paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Botticelli, and other proficient artists are still famous and valued up till today, though painted many years ago. Their artwork lives on. Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of Mona Lisa was listed by the Guinness world book of records to be the painting with the highest insurance value ever. Today it is worth over USD $800 million.

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