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Oil paint is a type of slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by the addition of a solvent such as turpentine or white spirit, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried oil paint film. Oil paints have been used in Europe since the 12th century for simple decoration, but did not begin to be adopted as an artistic medium until the early 15th century. Common modern applications of oil paint are in finishing and protection of wood in buildings and exposed metal structures such as ships and bridges. Its hard-wearing properties and luminous colors make it desirable for both interior and exterior use on wood and metal. Due to its slow-drying properties, it has recently been used in paint-on-glass animation. Thickness of coat has considerable bearing on time required for drying: thin coats of oil paint dry relatively quickly.

History

The technical history of the introduction and development of oil paint, and the date of introduction of various additives (driers, thinners) is still—despite intense research since the mid 19th century—not well understood. The literature abounds with incorrect theories and information: in general, anything published before 1952 is suspect.[1] Until 1991 nothing was known about the organic aspect of cave paintings from the Paleolithic era. Many assumptions were made about the chemistry of the binders. Well known Dutch-American artist Willem De Kooning is known for saying “Flesh is the reason oil paint was invented”.[2]

First recorded use

The oldest known oil paintings date from 650 AD, found in 2008 in caves in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, "using walnut and poppy seed oils."[3]

Classical and medieval period

Though the ancient Mediterranean civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt used vegetable oils, there is little evidence to indicate their use as media in painting. Indeed, linseed oil was not used as a medium because of its tendency to dry very slowly, darken, and crack, unlike mastic and wax (the latter of which was used in encaustic painting).

Greek writers such as Aetius Amidenus recorded recipes involving the use of oils for drying, such as walnut, poppy, hempseed, pine nut, castor, and linseed. When thickened, the oils became resinous and could be used as varnish to seal and protect paintings from water. Additionally, when yellow pigment was added to oil, it could be spread over tin foil as a less expensive alternative to gold leaf.

Early Christian monks maintained these records and used the techniques in their own artworks. Theophilus Presbyter, a 12th-century German monk, recommended linseed oil but advocated against the use of olive oil due to its long drying time. Oil paint was mainly used as it is today in house decoration, as a tough waterproof cover for exposed woodwork, especially ou

The technical history of the introduction and development of oil paint, and the date of introduction of various additives (driers, thinners) is still—despite intense research since the mid 19th century—not well understood. The literature abounds with incorrect theories and information: in general, anything published before 1952 is suspect.[1] Until 1991 nothing was known about the organic aspect of cave paintings from the Paleolithic era. Many assumptions were made about the chemistry of the binders. Well known Dutch-American artist Willem De Kooning is known for saying “Flesh is the reason oil paint was invented”.[2]

First recorded use

The oldest known oil paintings date from 650 AD, found in 2008 in caves in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, "using walnut and poppy seed oils."[3]

Classical and medieval period

Though the ancient Mediterranean civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt used vegetable oils, there is little evidence to indicate their use as media in painting. Indeed, linseed oil was not used as a medium because of its tendency to dry very slowly, darken, and crack, unlike mastic and wax (the latter of which was used in encaustic painting).

Greek writers such as Aetius Amidenus recorded recipes involving the use of oils for drying, such as walnut, poppy, hempseed, pine nut, castor, and linseed. When thickened, the oils became resinous and could be used as varnish to seal and protect paintings from water. Additionally, when yellow pigment was added to oil, it could be spread over tin foil as a less

The oldest known oil paintings date from 650 AD, found in 2008 in caves in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, "using walnut and poppy seed oils."[3]

Classical and medieval period

Pierre-Auguste Renoir said, “Without tubes of paint, there would have been no impressionism.” For the impressionists, tubed paints offered an easily accessible variety of colors for their plein air palettes, motivating them to make spontaneous color choices.

Traditional oil paints require an oil that always hardens, forming a stable, impermeable film. Such oils are called causative, or drying, oils, and are characterised by high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. One common measure of the causative property of oils is iodine number, the number of grams of iodine one hundred grams of oil can absorb. Oils with an iodine number greater than 130 are considered drying, those with an iodine number of 115–130 are semi-drying, and those with an iodine number of less than 115 are non-drying. Linseed oil, the most prevalent vehicle for artists' oil paints, is a drying oil.

When exposed to air, oils do not undergo the same evaporation process that water does. Instead, they dry semisolid. The rate of this process can be very slow, depending on the oil.

The advantage of the slow-drying quality of oil paint is that an artist can develop a painting gradually. Earlier media such as egg tempera dried quickly, which prevented the artist from making changes or corrections. With oil-based paints, revising was comparatively easy. The disadvantage is that a painting might take months or years to finish, which might disappoint an anxious patron. Oil paints blend well with each other, making subtle variations of color possible as well as creating many details of light and shadow. Oil paints can be diluted with turpentine or other thinning agents, which artists take advantage to paint in layers.

There is also another kind of oil paint that is water-mixable, making the cleaning and using process easier and less toxic.

Sources

evaporation process that water does. Instead, they dry semisolid. The rate of this process can be very slow, depending on the oil.

The advantage of the slow-drying quality of oil paint is that an artist can develop a painting gradually. Earlier media such as egg tempera dried quickly, which prevented the artist from making changes or corrections. With oil-based paints, revising was comparatively easy. The disadvantage is that a painting might take months or years to finish, which might disappoint an anxious patron. Oil paints blend well with each other, making subtle variations of color possible as well as creating many details of light and shadow. Oil paints can be diluted with turpentine or other thinning agents, which artists take advantage to paint in layers.

There is also another kind of oil paint that is water-mixable, making the cleaning and using process easier and less toxic.

The earliest and still most commonly used vehicle is linseed oil, pressed from the seed of the flax plant. Modern processes use heat or steam to produce refined varieties of oil with fewer impurities, but many artists prefer cold-pressed oils.[8] Other vegetable oils such as hemp, poppy seed, walnut, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils may be used as alternatives to linseed oil for a variety of reasons. For example, safflower and poppy oils are paler than linseed oil and allow for more vibrant whites straight from the tube.

Extraction methods and processing

Once the oil is extracted, additives are sometimes used to modify its chemical properties. In this way, the paint can be made to dry more quickly (if that is desired), or to have varying levels of gloss, like Liquin. Modern oils paints can, therefore, have complex chemical structures; for example, affecting resistance to UV. By hand, the process involves first mixing the paint pigment with the linseed oil to a crumbly mass on a glass or marble slab. Then, a small amount at a time is ground between the slab and a glass Muller (a round, flat-bottomed glass inst

Once the oil is extracted, additives are sometimes used to modify its chemical properties. In this way, the paint can be made to dry more quickly (if that is desired), or to have varying levels of gloss, like Liquin. Modern oils paints can, therefore, have complex chemical structures; for example, affecting resistance to UV. By hand, the process involves first mixing the paint pigment with the linseed oil to a crumbly mass on a glass or marble slab. Then, a small amount at a time is ground between the slab and a glass Muller (a round, flat-bottomed glass instrument with a hand grip). Pigment and oil are ground together 'with patience' until a smooth, ultra-fine paste is achieved. This paste is then placed into jars or metal paint tubes and labelled.

Pigment