Oil on Canvas: How It Works

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One of the most popular artistic mediums is oil paint. Oil paintings have been created by talented artists for centuries and continue to be admired the world over for their unique look. But what is oil painting, and how is it done? 


What Is Oil Painting, And How Is It Done?


This post is all about oil paintings. We’ll walk you through their history, what makes them special, and how our artists can create masterfully crafted oil paintings based on your favorite photos. If you have questions about art and the mediums that expert artists work in, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to take a deep dive into the magic that is oil on canvas!


A Short History Of Oil Painting


Oil paint has been used by artists for centuries. The medium became prevalent among painters in the 14th century. While the mixture that makes up oil paint has been refined throughout the centuries, the medium has been the same at its core since the beginning. 


Oil paint is a combination of three key components. The pigment is what gives oil paint its color. The ingredient that gives oil paint its name is known as a binder. A binder is an oil-based ingredient that serves as a carrier for the pigment. The pigment used in oil paint is usually a ground powder, meaning it needs a liquid to be used by an artist with a brush. The third main component of oil paint is called a thinner. The thinner makes it easier to spread the mixture of the oil-based binder and the powder pigment with a brush.


The most common type of oil used to make oil paint is linseed oil. Unlike some other vegetable oils, linseed oil can air-dry, making it an ideal liquid base for oil paint. If oil paint was made with oil that did not dry when exposed to air, it might be spreadable but would stay wet even after hours of sitting. The combination of ingredients used to make high-quality oil paints is carefully chosen to be as easy to use as possible for an artist painting with a brush.


Before the Industrial Revolution, oil paints were made by hand, not mass-produced in factories. The process of hand-making oil paints was often long, difficult, and costly. Paintmakers in the first few centuries of oil paint’s history sometimes even used precious metals like gold and rare stones ground up into a powder to create pigments for paint. When the Industrial Revolution made it easier to manufacture oil paints using synthetic pigments, the medium became much more affordable, and its accessibility increased.


What Makes Oil Painting Unique?


Today, oil paint is an extremely popular medium that is used by artists around the world. One of the reasons that many artists love to use oil paint when they work is because it is slower to dry than many other types of paint. A slower-drying paint gives an artist a bigger window to make adjustments to their artwork while the paint is still wet.


A quick-drying paint might seem like a simpler, easier, and more convenient medium to work in. However, for an artist, patience and precision are extremely valuable. Working with oil paint gives the artist more opportunities to work slowly and precisely, even taking breaks if necessary. When working on a massive masterpiece, the chance to step back and assess the details to see if any adjustments need to be made is extremely helpful.


Another attribute of oil paint that makes it unique among other art mediums is its ability to preserve the hues of colors even after the paint has dried. Many other types of paint will change color as they dry. A paint that can retain and preserve colors as it dries is an extremely useful resource for an artist. It can be disheartening for an artist working on a painting who watches it dry and discovers that the colors are not what he or she thought they would be. 


Oil, as a medium, also offers artists a unique opportunity to blend pigments and create eye-catching blends of colors. Because the hues will stay the same even after the painting has dried, an artist is free to blend colors without worrying about them looking different when the final product is complete.


How Paint Your Life’s Artists Work With Oil


Paint Your Life’s artists are experts in multiple mediums, working extremely well with paints and pencils alike. If you are looking for beautiful artwork created by a professional in your medium of choice, you’ve come to the right place. Many art lovers appreciate oil as a medium because of its timeless, regal look. Our artists are masters of this medium and can use it to seamlessly translate your favorite memories into masterpieces.


Is Oil The Best Medium For Your Personalized Artwork?


When you are trying to decide on a medium to choose for your personalized artwork, oil paint is definitely one worthy of your consideration. Some major pros of choosing oil as the medium that an artist creates your artwork in are its timeless appearance and ability to lend itself to a more classic, traditional style of home decor.


If this sounds like the style of artwork that you love and want to fill your home with, oil paint on canvas just might be the perfect medium for you. However, if you are looking for something a bit more quirky, something on the opposite side of the spectrum, a medium like pastel or colored pencil can offer you an entirely different take on one of your favorite memories.


Regardless of which medium you choose as the basis for your artwork from Paint Your Life, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Our artists are pros, and they can work extremely well in any of the mediums we offer!


How To Get Started With Commissioning Your Personalized Oil Painting


Paint Your Life makes the process of commissioning, customizing, and ordering your personalized artwork simple and hassle-free. It all starts with selecting a photo from your personal collection that you love and want to see turned into a beautiful work of art.


Your reference photo doesn’t need to be a professionally-taken picture. Our artists have made masterpieces out of candid family photos, awkward, goofy selfies, owner-taken pet pics, and much more. What matters most is that your photo holds deep significance and meaning for you and depicts a memory that you love to remember. 


When you first get started with the process of creating a personalized masterpiece in collaboration with Paint Your Life, your first task is to start looking through photos anywhere you can find them in your home. This may mean digging up old albums that are currently stored in the attic, garage, or closet, or simply opening your phone and looking through your camera roll. Finding old photos is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of the process of digging up and looking through pictures that document decades of your family’s history.


Finding a photo that is perfect for you can take a bit of time, and sometimes it is best taken on as a shared effort. Getting your family involved in the process of selecting a photo to use as your reference for artwork is a great time, and it gives you and your family the opportunity to spend time together telling stories and sharing memories.


Once you have selected a photo that you love, it’s time to select the medium for your artwork. If you love the look of oil paintings, the decision-making process ends there! However, it is definitely worth it to look around at everything Paint Your Life has to offer. You can get a beautiful piece of art in one of many mediums – acrylic, watercolor, or oil paint, or drawings in colored pencil, black pencil, charcoal, or pastel. Each of these mediums has a unique look that can pair well with any decorative style, and there is no wrong choice!


After you have selected your medium, your next task is to select the dimensions for your oil painting. An oil painting from Paint Your Life can be as small as eight inches by ten inches or as big as 48” x 72” – that’s some big artwork! In the same way that there is no wrong medium to choose for your painting, there is no wrong size to choose, either. It’s all up to you and depends entirely on whatever you think looks best and will fit your overall decorative style. 


When you get artwork from Paint Your Life, you are getting more than just a beautiful painting or drawing. In addition to that, you also get one of your precious memories immortalized in a form that you and future generations can enjoy for years to come. That’s what makes Paint Your Life truly special.