Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville

Art Studio Chalkboard NOTES ON OIL PAINTING
oil painting notes

Here is some general information on oil painting and its unique attributes.

One of the most inviting qualities of oil paint is the fact that the color remains constant throughout the drying process. When a color is mixed, unlike acrylic, it keeps the same characteristic color that is present when on the palette.

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Oils allow one to make adjustments hours and days later because of its slow drying characteristics. Color in oil can easily become muddy because of this slow drying attribute when one overworks a wet surface. A drop of Cobalt Drier will speed the drying process.

Always use natural bristle brushes with oil. Synthetics do not hold the oil in the brush very well and can react with the oil.

A disadvantage of oil paint is that clean up must be done with a solvent such as mineral spirits. If you are allergic to solvents, it is possible to clean up with baby oil, then wash with soap and water. One good product for cleaning oil paint out of clothing is Murphy's Oil Soap. This should be used for a scrubbing the spot before laundering.

One can finish an oil painting with a varnish to protect and enhance. Do not varnish an oil painting until six months after the paint has dried to the touch. Even though a painting has a dry surface, it is still drying below the surface. Varnishing too soon after finishing can result in cracking (see fat over thin).

updated 07/15/04

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