Original Oil Paintings

Nearly every popular painting you can think of is a type of oil painting. For example, perhaps the most famous painting of all time, Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, was created using oil paint. Oil paintings were invented somewhere around the 5th century AD by artists from India and China in western Afghanistan, who used oil paints to make Buddhist paintings. However, the height of its popularity did not come about until the 15th century, and helped to usher in the Renaissance period. At that time, artists were responsible for mixing their own paints, using pure pigments and various oils. It benefited the artist by allowing them to produce the exact shade they needed, but it also limited them, because carting many containers of pigments and oils to various places to create their art (for example, outdoor painting) was very difficult. Because of this, artists were often relegated to painting only within the confines of their studio, and could not capture nature as they would have liked to. Fortunately, by the early 1800s, pre-mixed tubes of oil paint began to be mass-produced, which gave artists much more freedom to choose the location where they wanted to paint. This helped usher in the Impressionist period, in which many artists began painting outside to capture sunlight on the canvas.

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Oil paints are created by blending pure pigments with drying oil, and using a water solution to help spread the paint on the canvas. There are several types of drying oils, and each one has a set of benefits and drawbacks. Poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil are all used to make lighter colors, such as white, cream, or beige, because they have less of a “yellowing” effect on the canvas, however, they dry very slowly. Linseed oil, created from the flax seed, dries much faster on the canvas, but after it dries, it takes on a yellowish hue, which can change the hue of the paint, so the artist must keep in mind that it will not dry the same color as it appeared when wet. Because different oils produce different results, most paintings you have seen were created with multiple oils to achieve different pigments, shading techniques, and realistic textures, which create more depth and drama within the painting. By mixing oils, an artist can make every part of their painting look different, from smooth fabric to a rushing river to a fine-grained wooden chair. In addition to using oil for the painting itself, oils can also be boiled with resin to create a glossy varnish which will seal the painting and help protect it from the elements and age damage. In modern times, traditional oil pants have gone out of vogue. Miscible oil paint is now the preferred medium, since it dries much faster than traditional oils (1-3 days for miscible oil paint versus 1-3 weeks for traditional oil paint). Another benefit of miscible oil paint is that it is water-soluble, meaning it can be thinned out with water instead of paint thinner, cutting down on the cost and storage space of supplies for the artist.


Some of the most famous paintings you can think of were made using oil paints on canvas, for example, The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas was popularized in the Renaissance era, easily replacing the wooden panels that were used in the past. Canvas oil paintings are still incredibly popular today, and most contemporary artists choose canvas predominantly over any other medium because of its lightweight quality which allows it to be moved effortlessly from place to place. It is also very durable, and does not damage as easily as more fragile mediums. Canvas lends itself to oil paint very naturally, and helps the artist to easily create different textures and blend colors more smoothly. Owning oil paintings on canvas is a wise investment or decorative decision, as their popularity will never go out of style, and original oil paintings will only grow in value as they age if they are well-maintained. Some decorators choose prints over original paintings, but the high quality and detailed texture of an original oil painting can never be mimicked or replaced.