Whenever thinking of paintings, most of us often start by imagining famous oil paintings. This is probably because most of the well known Renaissance period artists such as Jan van Eyck, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt worked with oil paints. Their genius continues to influence thousands of modern artists, (and spawned a thriving market of oil painting reproductions). We encourage you to explore the many original oil paintings for sale at Saatchi Art. Our online inventory of oil paintings for sale by artist include a vast selection of works that is sure match your personal style and space.
There are a number of oil painting techniques artists typically use. Early oil paintings were created on wooden panels, but cheaper and more versatile canvas supports soon became the norm. Artists were initially limited to painting in their studios, as they had to mix oil paints from raw pigments for use. The availability of oil paint packaged in tubes in the 1800s facilitated this mixing process and enabled artists to work in other settings. The French Impressionists, for example, took to painting quickly in outdoor environments. One of the most common oil painting techniques is a mixed technique in which the artist paints the canvas in layers, also called glazes. Early Renaissance Flemish painters first utilized this technique by applying a coat of paint to cover and tone the white canvas surface. The artist would allow the layer to dry before sketching their composition onto the canvas. They would then paint the surface in a series of color patches before blending the pigments together. Impressionist painters often used the alla prima, or wet-on-wet, method. Because they were concerned with painting outdoors within a shorter amount of time, they blended wet paint together before letting any layers dry. Other artists, most notably Vincent Van Gogh, used the impasto technique, creating oil paintings by adding thick layers of paint to the canvas. This technique adds texture to the work and usually lays bare marks of the brushstrokes made to produce it. Several abstract expressionist and contemporary artists are also known for blending oil painting techniques to create deep layers of bold colors in their works.
Oil painting has evolved since its origin in fifth century Asia and Afghanistan, where natural plant oils were used to decorate cave complexes. In Europe, oil pigments were initially used to varnish egg-based tempera paintings. By the 15th century, it was an artist’s paint of choice for its vibrancy, blendability, and longevity and it remained so for centuries afterward. In fact, oils gradually replaced other methods of painting in Renaissance Europe, mainly the Netherlands and Italy. Many of the great masters of painting--from Leonardo Da Vinci to Lucien Freud--used oils to create their masterpieces. Even after the invention and popularization of quicker-drying acrylic paints in the first half of the 20th Century, many artists still choose to create original oil paintings for the medium’s inherent, time-tested properties.