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Painting - Oil
The first thing all painters need to learn is that not all paint is created equal. There’s a reason that some tubes of paint cost about as much as a burger from McDonald's and other tubes might cost more than a mid-range television set. The type of paint used to create a painting can dramatically impact the way that the painting looks and feels. Many different types of paint have been used over the thousands of years since humans started painting, but the most famous type of paint is probably oil. If you want to know about painting, then you need to know about oils.
Defining oil paint
All types of paint are created using a simple but highly flexible basic recipe. A pigment that gives the paint its colour is combined with a binder that holds the pigment together and helps it bind with the canvas that it is applied to. Oil paint is defined by the fact that it is made using some oil as a binder. The type of oil has varied over the years as paint makers have used oils extracted from poppies, walnuts, and safflower. But in the end, the most popular type of oil comes from flax seeds.
Creating oil paint
To make oil paint the oil needs to be extracted from its source. Let’s look at how oil is extracted from flax seeds. To begin with, the seeds need to be removed from the flax plant and then dried. Once the water has been removed from the seeds by the drying process, it is pressed. In the past, this was done using only rudimentary tools, but now there are tools that automatically press the seeds and collect the soil that comes out of the seeds. The oil can be directly mixed with dry pigments, any material that might give colour to the paint. Some add other ingredients like beeswax to alter the consistency of the oil. It’s the quality of the pigment, and the unique recipes used that separate the cheapest oils you’ll find on store shelves from the incredibly expensive mixtures that need to be kept under lock and key.
Some famous oil paintings
Because oil was considered the gold standard of painting mediums for so long you can point to almost any famous painting and chances are it will have been made using oil paint. The most famous oil painting is probably also the most famous painting of all time, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” This painting has transcended the realm of most art and has become an icon that represents the very idea of art. Other famous oil paintings include Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” Georges-Pierre Seurat ’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.”