How is oil paint made?
Quite simply, coloured pigment is ground into a drying oil, such as linseed and safflower. This is the basis of oil paint. The oil base means that this type of paint takes longer to dry than other mediums, so an oil painting can be created in stages and over time, with none of the undue haste connected with other paints. Thanks to modern technology, water soluble oil paints are now on the market. This reduces exposure to harsh chemicals and makes for easy cleaning and thinning as water is all that’s required to complete these tasks.
What oil paint is right for you?
Basically, oil paints can be split into two categories: student grade and artist grade. Student grade oil paint is good beginner’s material as it is less expensive however it contains less pigment than artist grade. This equals a relative lack of colour and depth in your work. As you progress as an artist and feel your work deserves the very best material, you might like to move up to more expensive but higher quality artist grade oil paint.
Oil paint: fat over lean
One of the great advantages of oil paint is the ability to layer. When layering, the proportion of oil should be increased with each layer as the lower layers absorb oil from the layers above. This technique is known as fat over lean, and stops the upper layers cracking.
The best brush for your oil paint
Many a young artist has made the mistake of buying the right oil paint and the wrong brush to apply it! If you are looking for the best brushes for your oil painting, look for china bristle brushes. These brushes are more robust than most, ideal for applying heavier oil paints to your chosen surface. For blending, or more detailed line work, you may want to consider Sable brushes, even though they are not the cheapest brushes on the market. As always, the cheaper the brush the more inferior it is likely to be. Invest in a good brush from day one and replacement costs will be markedly reduced.
Looking after your oil paint
Don’t waste money, and paint, by storing your oils the wrong way. As soon as you buy your paint, check the manufacturer’s instructions on the best way to store it. Different types of oil paint might require different storage methods. Whatever the method, it is important you follow it! Poor storage leads to many a poor artist.