One of the most popular art forms is oil painting. If asked if you know of any such paintings or artists who used this technique, you may say “no.” But, I bet there are several pieces of artwork that you didn’t realize were famous oil paintings.
Painting with oil first began in what we now call the Middle East sometime between the 5th and 9th centuries. By the 15th century it became an extremely popular as knowledge of it and its benefits spread westward. Artists found that oil based paint suffered from less yellowing and that different oils would create different pigments and consistencies.
Oil paint is generally made up of some type of oil, often linseed oil. It is then boiled with a resin, like pine resin. This varnish was applauded for its gloss and body. Other oils besides linseed oil that are commonly used include walnut, poppy seed and sunflower oils.
Typically, an artist will begin by sketching his or her subject onto a canvas with charcoal or other material. Oil paints may be mixed with turpentine or other paint thinners for a paint of specific thickness and greater or lesser drying time. The general rule of practice is that you want to be sure that each layer of paint has more oil than the previous layer.