Many mural artists in the past avoided using oil paint due to its slow drying time until it was discovered that the addition of metallic oxides during processing increased drying time. The key ingredients to oil based paints are walnut and poppy seed oils. Drying oils were first used for medicines, cosmetics, and perfumes it was not until many years later that it was used to paint artistically. The trouble most painters had to go through during the renaissance must have been frustrating having to wait long hours before having to move on to the next step in a mural.
Originally, oil paint was created from a sequence of thin paint coats that overlap and adjust where the artist last left off. Brushwork today has innovated and became more demonstrative with a new style known as alla prima, an Italian phrase meaning “at the first,” which describes a painting that has been completed in a single session. “The artist feels her best works are her alla prima paintings because they reflect the visual impulse that inspired them. Although she may paint the same motif repeatedly she tries to bring freshness and discovery to each work by seeing the still like arrangement as if for the first time concentrating on its shapes, colors, and textures” (Wyer). Although many artists like Cox prefer Alla Prima when using oil paints old styles of painting should be practiced today to keep the style alive and never forgotten.
When we mix a finely ground, colored dust used to make paint, pastel and colored pencils known as pigment with oil mediums we create oil paints. The purpose for the medium is to bind and hold the pigment together to facilitate its workability to secure it to the support and to act as a protective film when dry. All manufacturers prepare their paint in this way. The constituency of the paint can vary slightly depending on the pigments and the amount of binder used. Paint can be used by the artist straight from the tube or it can be modified by the addition of oil mediums and thinners. Recent advances in the modification of oil mediums have resulted in the exciting new development of oil paint that can be mixed with both oil and water a boon to those who are allergic to or irritated by oil solvents or thinners.
Using Oil Paints
Great Techniques and Applications have been passed on from talented artists in the past using oil paints. The techniques used with oil paints are Fat-over-lean, underpainting, alla prima, impasto, glazing, blending, and texture. “You can use as many different techniques on the same painting as you wish. The important thing to remember is to always follow the fat over lean rule: begin by working with paint straight from the tube or add a bit of thinner then gradually increase the oil or medium content as the work progresses.” (Sidaway) Artists sometimes do not like the outcome of mixing a number of styles together but the bright side to that is when one is using oil paints it is easy to correct by scraping or wiping the paint away with a knife or rag.