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The Traditional Oil Painting Techniques for Beginners


All mediums of painting have a set of techniques unique to them which are used by artists for accomplishing their objective of creating a beautiful piece of art. These techniques dictate the method of application of paint on the canvas and are broadly classified as being traditional or contemporary, the former involving age-old methods and the latter representing modern methods.

Like the other types of painting mediums, there are different oil painting techniques as well which the beginners in the field should be aware of and these are discussed as follows:

The first technique is referred to as Allah Prima which on being literally translated means at first try meaning being able to finish the painting in a single session. Due to its implication, the Allah Prima technique is suitable for a small canvas as well as for outdoor painters because in both cases it is possible as well as obligatory to finish the painting within a short period of time.

One of the obligatory oil painting techniques is known as under-painting which entails creating a rough draft painting on the canvas and then filling it with colorful oil paints after it has dried. Under-painting forms the foundation of an oil painting and while some artists may use gray or dark colors for the purpose some others might prefer acrylic paints owing to their attribute of drying quickly.

Glazing is an oil painting technique in which the artist covers a dry underpainting with thin colors in such a way that the original colors show through the transparent glazes. Prior to the application of the glaze, the artist has to ensure that the layer of paint is completely dry, and subsequent to application, the change brought about in the color of the paint is plainly evident.

Blending in oil painting is achieved when two different oil colors are merged together either by being painted next to each other or alternatively on top of each other. This technique is carried out by using a soft, long-haired brush or a fan brush wherein the two colors are blended together by performing short and smooth strokes.

Another similar technique known as wet-in-wet entails the application of wet oil paint on another wet oil paint in order to facilitate natural blending to result in the creation of beautiful tonal changes in the painting.

Frottage, in French means to rub, and this technique, entails the application of a coat of paint on which is pressed a piece of crumpled paper for a few seconds before being lifted. The result is a textured pattern which can be used in different ways while painting.

Stippling is an oil painting technique in which dots of color are applied over the background color. This is a time-consuming technique that is carried out with the help of a small pointed brush, cotton buds, a stick or Quips and is particularly used by artists while depicting water.

The oil painting technique of broken color is achieved by using thick oil paint for applying individual strokes of color to form different shapes on top of another color so that every stroke creates a separate design without blending.

One of the widely used oil painting techniques is to make use of toned canvas which is created by painting a white canvas with a particular color. The advantage of a toned canvas lies in the fact that it enables the artist to judge the intensity of the colors more accurately and also to gain an estimate as regards the combination of different colors.

The oil painting technique of fat over lean is one of the most common and entails the application of thin paint prior to the thick paint. This is meant as a precautionary measure meant to prevent the paint from cracking at the surface as the thinner layer of paint tends to dry more rapidly as compared to the thicker layer.

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