Peinture a lhuile is a classic art medium. Those who work with oil paint appreciate its buttery consistency, vibrant colour and ability to be blended. But it can seem intimidating to those who have never worked with it. There is a lot to learn and the process can be slow, but once you master the basics it will become much easier.
Oil paint is an emulsion of drying oil and pigment, allowing the artist to manipulate the colours by mixing them with various oils, varnishes and resins. Each medium imparts a different quality to the paint. For example, linseed oil may dry more quickly than poppy or walnut oil and can change the sheen of the paint. The ‘body’ of the paint is also affected by the type of oil used. Dammar, a resin extracted from gum berries, is often used to add a sheen and body to paintings.
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In addition to the varying qualities of oil paints, the type of canvas can affect the final look of an image as well. For instance, a saggy, loose canvas can cause cracking in the final painting, while a tightly stretched canvas will keep the paint flat and resist the onset of craquelure.
Other considerations for working with oil paint include its flammability and toxic nature. The use of solvents like turpentine can be a health hazard for the artist as well as their household and can create dangerous fumes. It is therefore important to follow best practices and properly store and dispose of turpentine and oil-soaked rags.