Oil Paintings

Oil Paintings by Tatyana Zen

This collection of oil paintings truly captures the enchanting beauty of this time-tested medium. Colorful portraits of celebrities, vibrant animal art and dramatic landscapes make the perfect art for a modern and contemporary space.

Inspired by Old Masters

Incredible Longevity

Oil paintings possess an unsurpassed richness, depth and luminosity that lends itself well for capturing highly realistic objects and scenes. Oil pigments have long been the medium of choice for artists throughout history. One of the most famous examples is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. In the early days, these paints were made with extracts of linseed, poppy seeds, walnuts, and safflower mixed with various natural pigments.

Oil paintings are incredibly durable and have been first used in 12th century for Buddhist paintings in caves of Afghanistan. Oils gained popularity in the 15th century as a prefered medium. Renaissance oil masterpieces continue to intrigue and delight audiences despite being hundreds of years old.

Oil paints are comprised of pigments ground with oils, most commonly linseed oil. The mixture of pigment and oil is then dried to the consistency of butter, causing the applied paint to dry slowly without changes in color intensity. When oil oxidizes, it forms a solid film that binds the pigments, allowing oil paintings to be enjoyed for hundreds of years.

Oil Painting Techniques

Glazing Technique

One of the main appealing properties of oil painting are the glazes. By adding a small amount of pigment to the relatively clear oil medium, you can very subtly tint an image. This is called glazing. Most Renaissance Old Masters used a toned underpainting and then built up several of these thin glazes of colour on top to create astonishingly realistic figures and scenes. The translucence of the paint film allows for sophisticated ranges of flesh tones.

Scumbling Technique

The scumbling technique is the opposite of glazing, in that its purpose is to lighten the color underneath. Scumbling means applying a thin, semi-opaque layer over a dry underlayer. Any color mixed with white and applied thinly over a darker layer will soften and cool this layer. The technique is perfect for softening textures, painting young skin, or painting a distant sky.

Longer Drying Time

Watercolour and acrylic paints have water as part of their medium – they dry by evaporation. But oil paints don’t. They absorb oxygen from the air.  Essentially, oils have a rate of autoxidation from the air, they absorb oxygen and harden. 

Very thick impasto paint strokes may take up to two years to fully cure and be ready for varnishing. Oil paints applied very thinly or with a medium additive can be dry in as little as two days.

Working with oil paint allows for a certain degree of flexibility while painting, as it takes longer to dry than other media. Its malleable nature, in addition to the depth, purity, and vibrancy of pigment quality, makes oil colour a favourite among professional artists.

Generally oil colours become ‘touch-dry’ in thin films within two to 12 days, but different reactions of each pigment when mixed with oil results in varying drying times.

When & Why to Varnish

Once a painting is fully cured, it can be varnished. The advantages of varnishing are many. Firstly the objective is to protect the painting for the long term. Dust, bugs, humidity, carelessness, sun UV rays and pollutants in the air all contribute to the deterioration of artwork. Varnish done correctly can not only protect the painting, but with knowledge and care, can be removed without harming the work and then reapplied again.

If varnish is applied too soon, it seals the air from getting to the interior layers of the paint and inhibits proper curing and makes painting susceptible to mold, cracking and lifting.

Varnishing can bring back that initial wet lush look of freshly painted oil paint and even out the canvas so that it all has the same level of sheen, or matte. Some pigments of paint ‘sink into’ the surface of the support and end up dull, matte and a few shades lighter than when the artist first applies wet oil paint. It can leave the painting looking blotchy and dull. Applied to a fully cured painting, even many years later will dramatically improve the artwork!

Decorating with Oil Paintings

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