Oil Painting and 3 Common Misconceptions

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1. You can win amazing prizes in our Holiday Sweepstakes, which is in full force. Today’s prize is $160 worth of papers from Strathmore!
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Wilson Bickford’s “Oil Painting Basics–Painting Waves” is included in the 5-star offer. Below, he shares the most common stereotypes he hears about painting with oil.

When you hear the word “stereotype,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is related to society. But judgments go beyond people–even art media come with generalizations about how they can be used, and even who uses them. Think about it: When you hear about pastels, watercolors or oils, certain images and beliefs might pop into your mind without any question as to why.

Wilson is a popular art instructor who is ready to shed some light on one of the oldest art mediums: oil. He goes into greater detail in his Oil Painting Basics video workshops, but for now, here are three common misconceptions–and truths–about painting with oil for beginners.

The truth about painting with oil

Chilly Chickadee (oil on Convexo oval canvas, 8×10) by Wilson Bickford. “Pin” this!

Oil Painting and 3 Common Misconceptions by Wilson Bickford

Wilson Bickford, artist and oil painting teacher

Artist Wilson Bickford at work.

Misconception: Oils are difficult to work with. The truth is that oils are MUCH easier to work with than other media. Their slow-drying rate makes it easy to accomplish even subtle blending passages. Oils also have the richest, most saturated color of all the other media, in my opinion. Whereas watercolors will lighten as they dry and acrylics will darken and dull as they dry, oils remain the same. What you see is what you get. Re-adjusting the values isn’t necessary, as with other media. And if you wish for them to dry faster, an alkyd-based medium, such as my Wilson Bickford Clear Glazing Medium, will speed the dry time tremendously, as quickly as overnight with thinner paint layers.

Misconception: Oils are messier than other media. Oils are really no “messier” than other media. “Messy” is a trait of the particular handler, not the medium itself. Oils, acrylics and watercolors all require a liquid solvent for thinning the painting, glazing and clean-up. Obviously, for water-based media, water is used for these purposes. For oils, I use 100-percent odorless mineral spirits. Using a little care to not slosh liquid all over the studio goes a long way toward defeating the “messy” aspect. If you’d rather not have to clean a palette at the end of your session, you can use disposable palette paper and simply toss it out.

Misconception: Turpentine is questionable. Back in the day, turpentine was the standard for use with oil paints, simply because that’s all that was available. In 25 years of painting, I have never used “turp.” I agree that it’s unpleasant to work with due to its strong odor and fumes. Odorless mineral spirits make a world of difference without smell and they don’t dry out your bristles as turp does. Consider this: I had an oil painting book from the 1950s and the artist used Kerosene for cleaning his brushes. Can you imagine that?! We’ve come a long way! ~ W.B.

Indeed we have! And you can go even further with Wilson’s Oil Painting Basics video download on painting water, for only $5 today. Browse the rest of this limited-time 5-Star sale here in North Light Shop. If you enjoyed this article, click here to share it on Facebook with your friends in the art community!
Until next time,

Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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