The oil painting technique traces its roots all the way back to a time between the fifth and ninth century when it was first used in Western Afghanistan, yet it was made famous and the premier means of expression by the Renaissance movement in the 15th century by men like Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael (Davide 46). The reason the oil painting technique gained this newfound popularity was due in large part to its ability to convey things such as human flesh more accurately while also giving the painter weeks in drying time to work. However, in order for us to properly understand the oil painting technique, we must first understand its composition and ability to create.
The paint itself is created using two elements: pigments and oil. The pigments are dry colorants, such as mineral salts and other earth types, ground-up into a fine powder and separated by color. But since the pigments could not adhere to the painting alone, oil was used as a binder to do just that. Typically, linseed oil was used because it can polymerize, and therefore is a drying oil (Mayer, Ralph, and Sheehan 123). However, other oils such as walnut oil, sunflower oil, and tung oil are also used, especially if the artist would want to alter the drying times of the paint or lessen faint colors. A good example of an artist who even used different oils in the same painting was Leonardo Da Vinci, who “… used a combination of oils while painting Adoration of the Maji, which some speculate was for the benefit of the artist to takeover this unfinished work” (www.henryfordgroup.org). Additionally, there are other elements to the composition of the oil painting that help altar the paint.
In order to make alterations and correct elements, artists like to paint multiple layers; this also gives them the luxury of stripping off the paint already applied to the gesso (white glue that covers the medium on which the painting will be applied) without ruining the portions, which they would...
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