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Things you didn't know about oil painting


Most of the masterpieces that exist in the world were made through oil paints, i.e. pigments mixed with drying oil.

The common oil used for oil painting is linseed oil.

You may come across other kinds of oil during your oil painting lessons but, at the end of the day, the final result still depends on your skill level. For those that are commited to expanding their knowledge on oil painting, we've collated some facts so that you can come to your first day of class with more context.

The First Use of Oil Paints

It was back in the 5th century in Western Afghanistan when oil paints were first used to decorate things. Artists before this had utilized egg tempera as opposed to oil, with the paintings conducted almost exclusively on wood. Later on, during the 15th and 16th centuries, oil painting lessons became rampant in Europe, and artists were taught the ways of effective canvas use. From then on, most oil painting work continues to be done on canvas as it can hold the pigment much better than wood and requires less preparation.

The State of the Pioneering Studios

It was common for white oil paint of yesteryears to be made from lead, which we now identify as being hazardous to health; it was replaced by zinc in the mid-1800s. One thing you will learn during oil painting lessons is that one way to date an artwork created from oil paint is by assessing its composition.

Of interest, before the 19th century, the studio of an artist didn’t look as organised and regimented as today but had more in resemblance to a chemical laboratory. This is because the artist was involved throughout the entire process such as grinding the pigments, boiling the oil, and mixing particular measurements of ingredients to create the right formula.

Oil Paints in Tubes

Early artists would mix oils and keep it in a pig’s bladder. Thanks to the metal tubes created in the 1840s, where the oil paints were stored and ready to use, we are no longer reliant on such older methods. Inginuity like this has made the work of an artist more streamlined and has allowed them to be able to paint outdoors where they can be exposed to new inspiration.

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