The world of art is so diverse — so many colours, styles, meanings and materials.
Art speaks to us of history, emotions and life.
One of the most common types of paintings is oil painting on canvas.
Oil paintings are rich in history and value.
If taken care of properly, they will maintain their beauty for many years to come.
The history of oil in painting
An oil painting is made with pigments and a drying oil as the binder. Commonly used drying oils include poppy seed, walnut, safflower, and linseed oil.
The history of oil painting can be traced for centuries, and throughout many countries.
The oldest-known oil paintings were made in the 7th century AD by Buddhists in Afghanistan.
Oil painting was in Europe through the 12th century, though it was mostly used on statues and woodwork.
It wasn’t until the end of the 15th century that oil painting was put on canvas — metal like copper plates was also used.
Many of the well-known painters used oil paints.
Among them are names like Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh.
Telling the difference between oil and acrylic paint
Oil paint and acrylic paint look different when wet, but can be difficult to distinguish when the paint is dry.
How can you tell which type of paint was used?
- When looking at the canvas, you should see a white or primer paint on the canvas, under the painting if it is an oil painting — oil paintings must be primed. Acrylics may be primed, but are not required like oil.
- If still unsure, look at the colours. Due to the time it takes to dry, oil paint tends to have softer edges. Acrylic dries faster — leaving a crisp, clear, and sharp edge to the colour.
- While holding the painting at an angle, check the texture. If it looks layered, it is most likely oil paint.
- An extremely glossy painting is likely an oil painting, since acrylic paint is usually more of a matte when dry.
- When looking at an old painting, look for signs of ageing. An oil paint may be tinted yellow or have small cracks — acrylic paint will not.
Caring for your oil paintings
Caring for any painting is important — it takes special care to keep an oil painting looking good for many years.
First, when framing, it is wise not to put it behind glass — the paint needs to breathe. Instead of glass, apply a varnish — it is advised to ask a professional what varnish to use or if you need one.
Do not expose your oil paintings to direct sunlight, to keep the colours looking good. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will cause it to fade.
When your oil painting gets dusty or dirty, use a dry duster or soft cloth.
Throughout history, oil painting on canvas has been a favourite for artists worldwide.
Many famous paintings have used this medium.
If taken care of properly, oil paintings can last many years and maintain rich colours and beauty.