Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Painting - Oil Painting

Characteristics - Painting Methods & Techniques - Materials and Equipment - Work Space & Storage - Manufacture of Pigments - Protection of the Picture

The Craftsman's Handbook [Cennini's 'Il Libro dell' Arte'] - On Painting [Alberti] - Professional Essays [Sir George Eastlake]

Oil Painting - Methods

The Oil Technique
Painters employed drying oils such as walnut oil and linseed oil occasionally for special effects from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. During the fifteenth century oil painting was increasingly used as a fine arts medium, and in the sixteenth century it became the principal painting method in northern Europe and Italy, becoming preferred by many artists over egg tempera, fresco, and distemper painting. The gradual adoption of the oil medium came soon after the systems of perspective and light-and-shade drawing had been absorbed into the pictorial styles of the period, replacing the more stylized almost signlike compositions of the earlier artists. [Editorial note: One might speculate that paint was applied directly onto unprepared surfaces in the early renderings of natural forms and in stylized schema developed in Aegean wall painting not unlike the wall paintings in the caves of Tunhuang along the Silk Road in the Gobi Desert --and an approach to painting which may have arisen out of processes in decorative ceramic ware and, perhaps, writing. European artists during the early Renaissance glazed color with an oil /egg binder over monochromatic light & shade renderings on polished plaster and panels --much in the same narrative spirit of early architectural reliefs which developed in the East and in Egypt. It was not till the high Renaissance that artists had develop the process of mixing pigments together and more directly in the delineation of nuances in imagery. A characteristic of the Renaissance was that attention was brought to focus on the present world with an increasing awareness of changing events and with more fluid and natural exchanges portrayed --less dedication ascribed to the hereafter. The oil paint carried light within the process of delineation.] The characteristics of oil paint proved advantagious to painters who were interested in the effects of light, the description of individual likeness, and the complex variety in nature. That it became almost universally accepted as the standard medium of European and American painting for nearly five hundred years, meeting the requirements of the various styles of painting as they appeared, testifies to its versatility and to its compatibility with the developments in European and American art. [p. 54]

[Kay, Reed. The Painter's Guide to Studio Methods and Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983. pp. 127-129]

Editorial Note: Much range is provided through the use of oil paints as a media with which to draw, evolve, develop, discover, and define content and imagery. One has the possibility to work with fine glazes or thick applications of the substance through which to develop experience, thought, and understanding. The oil painting media is such that an artist has an opportunity to re-do, re-think, or remove work in the processes of development --and may develop skills to use the media to capture fleeting impressions or to build tangible substances of ideas and impressions. Oil paints may be worked both transparent and opaque.



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