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Medium Well Done: 10 Acrylics
Traditional oil paints were the mainstay medium used by professional painters in the west from the Renaissance until the late twentieth century, a period of well over half a millenium. Although other media have been widely and successfully used, until recently the apparently infinite flexibility of effects and painting... Read more
Medium Well Done: 6 Oils
Since the decline of egg tempera as the preferred medium for easel paintings in the Renaissance, oil paints have dominated those used by professional painters. This is due to their longevity and versatility. When appropriate techniques are used, oil paintings readily survive over five hundred years, and are the... Read more
Fat over lean – understanding oil paint
Oil paints have been used for centuries in most of Europe’s greatest paintings, together worth far more than even Apple’s entire assets. It is therefore surprising how recent and incomplete is our understanding of how they actually work. Jan van Eyck, La Vierge au Chancelier (The Rolin Madonna), c... Read more
Who invented oil paint?
We are often led to believe that oil paints were invented in Northern Europe, shortly before the first famous painters of the Northern Renaissance used them to such great effect. Not only is that untrue, but a more accurate account has been in the public domain for over 200... Read more
Favourite Paintings 6: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, 1842, and Norham Castle, Sunrise, c 1845
Two late paintings portraying tranquil sunlit scenes of dawn over still water, remarkable in their anticipation of Impressionism. Painter Joseph Mallord William Turner Painting The Blue Rigi, Sunrise Year 1842 Media watercolour on paper Dimensions 29.7 x 45 cm (11.7 x 17.7 in) Collection The Tate Gallery, London Link... Read more
Favourite Paintings 6: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, 1842, and Norham Castle, Sunrise, c 1845
Two late paintings portraying tranquil sunlit scenes of dawn over still water, remarkable in their anticipation of Impressionism. Painter Joseph Mallord William Turner Painting The Blue Rigi, Sunrise Year 1842 Media watercolour on paper Dimensions 29.7 x 45 cm (11.7 x 17.7 in) Collection The Tate Gallery, London Link... Read more
Shipwrecked art history: Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa
Sometimes nuggets of knowledge and understanding just seem to drift off into increasing fiction. Unfortunately the Internet and Wikipedia do not appear to help this; in many cases they are part of the cause. If you read my recent review of Julian Barnes’ excellent collection of essays on art,... Read more
Shame on you, Smithsonian: paint tubes did not determine Impressionism
Although it is not new, I was shocked to read Perry Hurt’s article of May 2013 on Smithsonian.com (despite its intrusive advertising). Its bold assertive sub-title claims that, without the invention of the paint tube, “impressionists such as Claude Monet wouldn’t have been able to create their works of... Read more
Alchemy: a brief history of oil painting, 1 – Overview
The great majority of paintings which form the fabric of art history were painted using oil paints. In its day, egg tempera was used for many masterpieces, but once oil painting became established practice, tempera became relatively little-used. Watercolour has been used with huge success, but professional painters recognise... Read more
Alchemy: 2 – the origin of oil painting
Oil painting – ancient or modern – requires the bringing together of four components in a successful technique: a drying oil, pigments, a ground able to take the paint, solvents/diluents. The last of these is often forgotten, but without a means to dilute oil paint, clean brushes and other... Read more