Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oil paintings on canvas - the process of creating a masterpiece

Superstition Trail 24 x 20 Weatherproof Painting

Oil painting is a technique that has been used by eminent artists to create some of the finest artistic works we have ever known. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”; Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and “CafĂ© Terrace at Night”; Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, are all famous examples of oil painting. It is a difficult process, but once it is mastered, an artist can undoubtedly create oil paintings that are far superior in quality than water color paintings, acrylic paintings and other artistic mediums.
The Initial Preparation

Oil painting is a much superior technique of painting than other processes, such as, water color, charcoal sketch, etc. The linen canvas used in the best quality oil paintings is durable and stiff, letting the artist paint comfortably on it. Also, the pigments used in oil painting are of a special kind, which binds well with the oil used as a base. Linseed oil or walnut oil work best in oil painting. At times resin is combined with the base oil (the product is called varnish) to make the finished product glossy in appearance. The canvas is prepared by stretching it slightly and mounting it on the drawing board with clamps. The paint is mixed with oil and left for some time, allowing the paint to combine properly with the oil.

The Painting Process

In oil painting, the strokes need to be applied steadily, but with measured pressure. Extra pressure put on the brush will end up smudging the color in the finished product. On the other hand, if the pressure is too little, sufficient oil may not be absorbed in the canvas, thus shortening the life of the finished painting. Oil painting thus requires sufficient dexterity on the artist’s part to be done properly, and the correct pressure to be applied can only be determined through continuous practice.

The Finishing

Once the painting is complete and it has dried, the artist usually coats the entire painting with a coat of clear lacquer. This process is called “varnishing”. This process is performed even if the oil used in the painting already had varnishing resin mixed into it. This makes the painting waterproof and greatly extends its life. This finishing must be uniform; any spot left out will gradually degrade the painting over time. Once this process is successfully completed, the varnish is left to dry. Gradually, the colors set perfectly and the varnish dries up, leaving a smooth, glossy finish to the painting.

Creating an oil painting can be a tedious and expensive task. But done successfully, it can leave behind a true masterpiece that is valued by collectors for years after its creation.

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