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Interesting Facts about Oil Painting


Most of the world’s art masterpieces were made with oil paints, which are essentially pigments mixed with drying oil. The common oil used for oil painting is linseed oil. You may come across with other different kinds of oil paints during your oil painting lessons, and different artists will have preferences for which type of oil paint they prefer. That said, the final result still mostly depends on your skills.


Learning art is more than just learning techniques.


There is whole history that is there for you to discover, and your teachers in your oil painting lessons will only be happy to elaborate on this more for you. If you are interested to know more about oil painting, here are some interesting facts to help you understand the origins of oil painting and how some of the world’s masterpieces came to be:


The first use of oil paints

While the act painting itself has existed for millennia, oil paints didn’t come about until around the 5th century in Western Afghanistan. The majority of artists before utilized egg tempera instead of oil, painting on wood. Of course, prior to this, there were even more primitive, but no less impressive, forms of making art such as cave paintings. Later on, during the 15th and 16th centuries, oil painting lessons started in Europe with artists using canvases as a base. From then on, oil paintings were done on canvas as canvas can hold the pigment much better than wood and less preparation is required.


The technology of oil paints

Back in the day, white oil paint was made from lead but this can be hazardous to health. As such, it was replaced with zinc in the mid-1800s. One thing you may learn during your oil painting lessons is that one way to date artwork created from oil paints is by assessing its composition. If the paints contain higher amounts of lead, it is likely that the artwork is from before the 1800s. Before the 19th century, the studio of an artist didn’t look like it does today, resembling a chemical laboratory instead. This is because the artist has to do all the work of grinding the pigments, boiling the oil, and mixing exact ingredients to create the right formula. 

Oil paints today

After mixing the oil, early artists used to store the finished product in a pig’s bladder. Thankfully, metal tubes were created in the 1840s where the oil paints were stored and could be kept for a long time. This made it a lot easier for artists to create a stockpile of ready-to-use paints, and allowed them to transport their paints with them much easier. Of course, these principles carried over to the modern era where our oil paints are now conveniently stored in fun-sized plastic tubes.


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