The first section of the this blog is taken from Artists Daily, which is a great site for any artists to sign up to if you're looking for top tips and interesting articles.
"Oil Painting: Centuries Old & Still Going StrongOil painting dates back for centuries and is an incredibly far-reaching artistic practice. The earliest discovery of its usage goes as far back as the fifth century A.D. to the Bamian Valley of Afghanistan, where Indian and Chinese artists created hundreds of paintings in the nexus of caves there.
But oil painting art did not achieve widespread prominence and usage until it arrived in Northern Europe in the 15th century. Netherlandish artist Jan Van Eyck is most often credited with "discovering" the practice, having experimented with oil painting techniques in his wood panel works, including his famed Arnolfini wedding portrait. Eventually oil painting swept through the rest of Europe, replacing tempera painting as the most prominent medium of choice and becoming the painting practice most closely associated with the art of the High Renaissance.
What initially made oil painting art so appealing was the brightness and richness of its colours. What has allowed it to stand the test of time is its adaptability to an artist's whims and requirements. For instance, Renaissance oil painting artists tended to use oil paints in layers, working fat over lean (which means adding more oil to the pigment as you go through each successive layer to allow for proper drying or curing so the final surface of the painting won't crack) and dark to light. This is usually called indirect painting and allows an artist to build up the painting surface from toned underpainting to finishing glazes.
During the Impressionist period, much of that changed. Oil pigments were put into tubes and artists were free to move outdoors, where they often painted "wet into wet," mixing paint directly on the surface and not waiting for a layer of paint to dry before going into the painting again. Nowadays artists often combine one or both of these methods in their oil art.
And oil painting's further appeal lies in the fact that its translucence, sheen, and thickness can all be adjusted. It can also be used with waxes, resins, and varnishes, proving that the process and possibilities inherent in fine art oil painting are as varied and faceted as the artwork that has been made with over the centuries".
Thanks to Artist daily for their excellent article -
As for me; I've loved oil painting for years. I think many amateur artists are put off for a variety of reasons. Firstly the smell! It's an acquired taste you know. Personally I love love love the smell of my studio as I walk in, but perhaps if I was living in a studio flat and had to inhale the fumes day and night I might feel differently. Secondly if you have limited space it can be very difficult to develop your artists stamina and complete an oil painting. I've lost count of the amount of the smart clothes I've consigned to the painting pile because I brushed past a wet painting. Having a specific space is real plus. The third big reason I think people shy away from oil is that they are difficult and expensive. I've made so many mistakes whilst learning how to paint. You can read all the books you like on the subject, but nothing replaces trying it out. It's worth it.
At my most recent exhibition an ex student of mine asked "How do you get that kind of depth of colour?" He primarily works in acrylics and broadly speaking I think oil tends to have a greater depth than acrylics (many acrylic artists may disagree). In any case, depth of colour isn't really as simple as that, there are some key things to think about when trying to get greater depth of colour in oils. Fork out on some decent quality pigments (Micheal Harding, Old Holland and Windsor and Newton artists quality) and build up layers, finish with glazes and consider your varnish very carefully.
There are so many ways to paint in oils that perhaps that's why they've lasted so long, they provide the artist and the viewer with so many variables, we're never going to get bored of them or find a subject that can't be captured in oils, somehow, someway.
I continue to learn about oil painting every time a pick up a brush. I don't think I'll ever stop learning and loving this medium.