What Makes Oil Paintings Distinctly Unique?

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Oil paintings have been popular over centuries and centuries of artwork. They’ve been particularly pervasive in Western art and they’ve been the method for many a masterpiece. Even today, oil paint is a popular medium for the modern painter.

Just like any other medium, oil paintings are unique in their own way. When you buy original oil paintings online, they have a different look from other mediums such as acrylic paintings. If you aren’t an art aficionado or an oil painter yourself, you might be wondering what makes this material so very unique.

Le Ravissement de Psyche (The Rapture of Psyche)

What Is Oil Paint?

It’s worth taking note of the specifics behind the paint used in so many well-known paintings. After all, the composition of a material changes how it’s used and the properties it has.

Oil paint is literally pigment mixed with an oil binding agent. In paint, the drying oil is often linseed oil but other oils such as poppy, sunflower, soya bean, safflower, and walnut oil may be used.

This type of paint is slow to dry and it hardens as time goes on. It’s a long-lasting material but the pigment does change down the road. Eventually, the color of oil paint does take on a yellow tinge which we see the results of in older, famous paintings such as those by Vincent Van Gogh. If you’re painting something to hang in your living room, you’re not going to have to worry about this fading as much.

Benefits of a Slow Drying Medium

Argenteuil (Red Boats)

There are a lot of benefits of working with something that doesn’t dry right away. For one, it gives artists more time. It isn’t always or even often an option to sit at a painting from start to finish without taking a break. So, if you have to step away for a bit, you don’t have to worry that everything you worked on will be permanently dried into place right away.

Idleness II

A slow drying medium is also easier to blend and create transitions in color. This is why oil paintings have some of the most realistic results as well. The skin tones and skylines are helped along by the fact that it’s easy to blend oil paints as you go.

It’s also worth noting that oil paints blend well. You aren’t going to have to worry about odd hues or uneven mixing. They work well with one another to create exactly the tone you need them to.

The Colors Stay True

The Last Supper 1498

We mentioned that over time oil paints can yellow. In the short term, though, they are one of the truest colors between wet and dry. When an artist paints something with oil paints, they can depend on those colors to stay the same from the moment they put their brush down to the point that the painting is ready to display.

Virgin Mary with Jesus and John

This isn’t something that every other medium does. Both watercolor and acrylic paints change their tone slightly as they dry. This is an especially important feature for painters who are playing with colors in new ways or even for the first time.


Starry Night Over The Rhone

Oil paintings are unique and many famous pieces have rightfully earned the title of a masterpiece. This has to do with the skill of the artists as well as their firm grasp on their medium. There are plenty of features of oil paint that lend it to a distinct style. It’s been the choice of many artists over past centuries and it will continue to be the medium of choice for many artists in years to come thanks to its unique properties.

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