Pedernal by Georgia O'Keeffe
"True art is an expression of the human being's search for a relationship with the spiritual, whether the spiritual longed for when his soul leaves the body, or the spiritual which he desires to remember when he dips down into a body, or the spiritual to which he feels more related than to his natural surroundings, or the spiritual as manifested in colors when outside and inside lose their separateness and the soul moves through the cosmos, freely, swimming and hovering, as it were, experiencing its own cosmic life, existing everywhere; or ... the spiritual as expressed in earth life, in the relationship between man's soul-spirit and the cosmic ... " - Rudolf Steiner
Art of Oil Painting
Art of Oil Painting
Lesson 1: Simple Projects
Lesson 2: Still Life
Lesson 3: Landscapes and Seascapes
Lesson 4: The Human Being and Architecture
Lesson 5: Abstract Painting and Expressionism
The Mediterranean societies of antiquity, most notably the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans used a paint that consisted of a mixture of beeswax encaustic, mineral pigments like iron or copper and tempera, vegetal like flax, walnut and poppy seed oil were known to these cultures, but there is no specific indication that they were used in paint. This method of paint creation, as with so much ancient technology, was lost in the intervening years, the final blow to paint creation likely being the fall of Rome. Thereafter the encaustic paint was replaced by oil or tempera paints.
Tempera paint is a mixture of an organic binder such as whole eggs or animal glue, water, and vegetal essential oils. It has a thinner consistency than oil paint and dries much quicker. Oil paint on the other hand, uses oil as a binder. In Italy during the time of the Renaissance, the most commonly used oil for this purpose was olive oil as it was inexpensive and readily available. However, it had an excessive drying time that was especially tedious in the case of figures. So tedious in fact that it lead a German monk by the name of Theophilus to warn against the use of oil paint recipes including olive oil in the 12th century in his book Schoedula Diversarum Artium. Among other techniques was the use of a drying oil as a varnish on paintings, such as the technique referred to by 5th century medical writer Aetius Amidenus. In the 8th century, the Japanese mixed lead with Perilla oil, and in the 14th century, Italian artist Cennino Cennini used a painting technique that involved covering tempera paintings with light oily layers.
According to Le vite de piu eccelenti pittori, scultori e architetori, Firenze, 1550 (Lives of the Artists) by Giorgio Vasari, the oil painting technique was invented –or rather reinvented- in Europe by the well-known Flemish artist Jan van Eyck in or around 1410. He was not the first to use oil painting, but rather was the first to make use of a stable varnishing utilizing siccative oil, namely linseed. Walnut oil and poppy seed oil were also in use, but were not as quick-drying as linseed oil. These oils allowed for much faster drying of paint on canvas under the sun. Jan van Eyck kept his secret until about 1440, a year before his death. After van Eyck, several painters made improvements on the formula, such as Antonella De Massina (1430-1479), Michelangelo, Da Vinci (1452-1519) and Titian (1488-1576) among others. These secrets remained in Italy throughout much of the Renaissance, thus creating the supremacy among Italian Renaissance paintings.
Today, linseed oil is still the preferred oil in the creation of oil paintings, and can be easily made at home.
Items needed: Oil based paint, paint thinner, brushes, paper, jar, painting board, sponges and rags.
Tasks and Assignments Art of Oil Painting Lesson 2
1. Practice painting with the oil painting method for a minimum of 12 days creating several paintings. The focus for this lesson is on still life. Start with using simple projects for the first few days, then advance to one final more challenging project.
2. Take pictures of the paintings and submit.
Please submit files of completed art project(s), comments and questions via the online form or via email.