Oil paintings are created using a combination of linseed oil and pigments. The Mona Lisa, one of the most admired oil paintings in the world, was created using pigments mixed with linseed oil. Poppyseed oil, walnut oil and safflower oil are also used to create some of the most popular oil paintings. A lot of hard work goes into the making of an oil painting. Whether the end result appeals to the people depends on the caliber of the oil painter. Two of the popular Indian proponents of this art form include M.F. Hussain and Raja Ravi Verma.
Oil Painting- Early Days
If you refer to the ancient Greek chemist books you will find some interesting methods discussed on how to preserve colours. The books suggested the use of walnut oil, poppy oil, hempseed oil, castor oil and linseed oil to preserve paintings. The dried oil when applied on the paintings acted as varnish and protected the work from water. That is one of the earliest discussions on oil paintings that could be found in recorded history.
The monks zealously guarded the secret recipe of oil paintings. But towards the 13th century, the method became common knowledge. During the 15th century the Van Eyck brothers brought perfection to the art and they came to be known as the Fathers of Oil Painting.
How is it done?
The technique of creating an oil painting may vary from one artist to another. But there are some common steps that all artists need to follow. The surface for the painting has to be selected with great care. Usually, the oil paintings are created on canvas. But a noted exception is the Mona Lisa painting that was done on a wooden panel.
Glue and pigments are added to the canvas after which an outline is sketched. For colour, pigments are combined with oils and added to the painting. It takes up to a year's time for the oil painting to dry.
An oil painting serves as an excellent gift item. You can also buy oil paintings to decorate your home. The cost of oil paintings is likely to vary depending on the artist and the quality of work.
India's Love Affair with Oil Painting
Any study of Oil Paintings in India will be incomplete without the mention of the genre of painting which is now known as “Company Painting ”. The East India Company commissioned some artists to record the visual experiences of the new country (India) that was fascinating the British. These paintings serve as the only representations of ordinary people in India at that time. These paintings were also known for the life like representation of Indian monuments and landscapes. They also happened to be India's first brush with Oil Paintings. One of these Company Painters happened to inspire India's first well-established Oil Painter, Raja Ravi Verma .
Raja Ravi Verma and his works need no introduction to connoisseurs of art. He single handedly revolutionized they way India perceived its Gods, goddesses and mythological figure. His proportionate, life-like figures were closer to the western realistic schools of art than the indigenous schools. Therefore he found admirers in the Western Art circles.
After Raja Ravi Verma there was no looking back- India produced many luminaries in the field of Oil Painting. Jamini Roy , Amrita Shergill and M.F. Hussain are now considered to be stalwarts in the world of Modern Paintings. Their works have not only achieved fame but have collected fortunes too. M.F. Hussain paintings command millions of rupees in different auction houses around the world.
Thus the humble mix of linseed oil and pigments continues to cast a spell over art lovers around the world. Truly Oil Paintings couldn't ever have been more popular than they are today.