How to make an Oil Painting

How to make an Oil Painting

How to make oil painting?

This article is a brief overview about the basics of Oil Painting. Lets first understand that an oil painting differs from the any other paint form in the technique and material used to make the paint itself.

As we are all aware of the fact, that to erect an amazing skyscraper and to neglect the integrity of the foundation would be foolhardy.

Most certainly the technique is not a steadfast rule that is applicable to make paintings. Merely a guide to get going towards a method the individual artists could conform to, making a style of their own.

The basic framework follows the following steps:

1. Preparing the canvas.

2. Making the right blend of paint material.

3. Making the Under Painting.

4. Glazing.

5. Drying.

6. Final Varnish.

Lets ponder a little bit more about the technique:

Canvas Selection: First is the canvas selection with a certain amount of surface roughness. The material has to be firm and dry. The canvas should be laid tight or pasted on to the painting board lest there would be surface cracks in your painting.

Paint material: Next is to choose the perfect blend of colors from your coloring palette. Also the painting material has to be of various viscosities. Each layer has a little bit more oil than the one before. This again ensures there wouldn’t be any cracking of the layers as the painting ages.

Making the Under Painting: This is the most critical step in creating an oil painting. First make a rough sketch perhaps with charcoal, pencil or oil sketch. Then apply a layer of paint. This should be the thinnest coat also called as the ‘imprimatura’. This layer is going to be our ground color with no transparency. Dilute the paint with turpentine; so you get that fine viscosity. On this layer we will further apply our sequentially thicker paint with various blends.

Glazing: This is performed to add to the glossy appeal of the oil paints, which is where the light penetrates through various layers to give the stunning visual esthetics. There are various glaze material ranging from balsam, resins and lacquers. The latest lacquers tend to dry quickly but the time could be manipulated with addition of more oil it could be retarded or with spirit it could be accelerated.

Drying: The final painting is allowed to dry for five to seven days. Then a careful inspection of the painting will reveal any discrepancies such as a crack or disintegration of color blends. If the right method is followed the faults can be eliminated.

Final varnish: A coat of varnish is applied to the painting after couple of months, so it retains it gloss. Now it is ready to be framed and displayed.


The choice of frames is also an important aspect in enhancing the esthetic quality of the painting. It is so chosen, that it magnifies the character of the painting, rather than just masking it.

Quick review about the material of painting: There are very many materials available in the market; some choose to make their own recipes from shoe polish of neutral shade, zinc cream to prevent color disintegration from exposure to sun, oil, turpentine and resins for varnish. Most commercial preparations have all the elements blended but choosing the right one can be a matter of trial and error.

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