Oil Painting Process


Painting, specifically oil painting, can be a very work-intensive and time consuming process. It requires more than just transferring your ideas into canvas and everything is done. There are certain processes that each oil painting undergo before they come out as a finished product. Here’s a simple guide to help introduce you to the general process that each oil painting goes through.

Although the process that each oil painting go may vary from artist to artist, there are general steps that most of them usually follow. The first step is usually focused on preparing the surface to be painted on. There are a number of different surfaces being used in oil paintings which include, linoleum, wood panels, and cardboard. But the most popular surface being used even since ancient times has been on canvas. Linen has been the traditional choice as material for the canvas, although the use of cotton fabric is preferred by some artists because they are less expensive. Preparing the canvas takes a number of steps. First of all a wooden frame is used in order to firmly stretch the canvas where it will be pulled across and tightly stapled.

The next step in preparing the canvas is by applying a "size" in order to prevent the paint from eventually seeping into the canvas fabric. Sizing involves coating the canvas with a layer of animal glue which is then primed with lead white paint. Gesso is then applied for priming a canvas for painting. Gesso, which is usually a mixture of calcium carbonate and animal glue, is used on surfaces in order to increase the absorbing properties of the primer coat when oil paints are already being applied to the canvas. Most artists usually try to apply several layers of gesso to their canvas. Each layer is sanded after drying before the next layer is applied.

After the canvas has been primed, artists now will start on drawing outlines of their compositions into the surface. Sketching an outline on the canvas surface serves as the guide for the artist as he or she applies the color pigments. Underpainting is first applied which consist of an initial layer of paint that will serve as the base for the subsequent layers that will be painted on the canvas. The initial layer need not be just of one color, depending on the preference of the artist. But it should be able to help tone the subsequent layers painted on the canvas. Oil paintings are built up as layers upon layers of paint with each layer being made to dry before applying the next layer. This process is what may make an oil painting take some time before the final composition is done. After all the colors have set, a layer of glaze is applied to provide a seal to the surface. The finished painting is then dried for a time that may take as long as a year. After that, it may then apply a coat of varnish to provide some protection to the finished product.






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