Oil paint is a slow drying paint. It consists of particles of color pigment suspended in a drying oil. English painters have been using oil paints since the 13 th century. But, the use of oil paints in art was not accepted until the 15 th century. In the 15 th century, Flemish painter Jan van Eyck was the first to use oil paint for drawings.
Advent of Oil Paints in the World of Arts:
The slow drying qualities of oil paints were known to the early painters. However they were not used since the materials were difficult to get and work with. Early painters used tempera paints, which were quick drying and prevented the artist from making corrections or changes. Flemish artist Jan van Eyck was the first to use a mixture of tempera and oil paint in his paintings. By the 1600s pure oil paints were used by all artists. The modern oil painting technique was also created by Jan van Eyck. He was the first artist to create a stable mixture of oil which could be used to bind pigments. Jan van Eyck made a mixture of piled glass, calcined bones and mineral pigments which he boiled in linseed oil till it reached a viscous state. This viscous fluid was used to paint. Later Antonello da Messina added litharge to the mixture and increased its siccative properties. Leonardo da Vinci further improved the mixture by coking it at a low temperature and adding 5-10% beeswax. Rubens improved upon the mixture by warming walnut oil with litharge and adding mastic to the solution.
Properties of Oil Paint:
Oil paint is considered to be an elementary art media by many artists. Its properties make oil paint very popular. Characteristics of oil paints are:
- The paint can be stored easily as it remains stable for several weeks. This allows the artist to work for several sessions on a single painting.
- The paint easily blends into the surrounding paints and allow the colors to blend very subtly.
- Oil paints have a vivid high chroma color which makes the paintings very attractive and render a glossy surface to them.
Oil paint is also suitable for painting buildings or houses. It has luminous colors and is hard wearing which makes it suitable for both exterior and interior use.