Oil Painting Materials and Supplies
Get acquainted with an artist's tools of the trade here. For tips about using these oil painting materials, read the article Oil Painting Tips and Techniques.
Canvas is the most popular surface used in oil painting. It is traditionally made from linen, but since it is relatively expensive, cotton will also do. The canvas is commonly prepared for painting in several steps, which can be done at home for better bargain buy: first, the canvas is stretched across a wooden frame called the stretcher (or strainer), and is tacked or stapled tightly to it. Next, the artist usually applies a ground (see Oil Painting Tips and Techniques ) to protect the canvas from chemical reactions with the paint. Gesso, which is calcium sulfate mixed with animal glue, is commonly used as the ground for the canvas. It must be stressed here that a canvas, whether it is of the stretched type or the board type, must be primed prior to oil painting or else the paint will eat away at the substrate. Other surfaces that can be used in oil painting include wooden panels, linoleum, pressed wood, and cardboard.
Brushes are made up of natural or synthetic hairs gathered up in a metal band, called the ferrule, which can either be aluminum, nickel, copper, or nickel-plated steel. Using a brush is the most popular way to apply paint (or ink) onto a surface, as well as prepare paints by mixing them on a palette. They can be either stiff or soft, and both have their pros and cons. Oil paint brushes are usually sable of bristle. Since turpentine can easily damage synthetic bristles, these types of brushes are not suitable for oil paintings. The different types of brushes include: Round, Flat, Bright, Filbert, Fan, Angle, Mop, Rigger.
Oil paintings are named after the type of paint used: a slow-drying paint containing organic oils. The most popular oils include linseed oil as well as oil from poppies, walnuts, and soy beans, which are cheaper substitutes. Pigments in oil paints may be either mineral salts (lead, zinc, titanium, cadmium), earth types (sienna, umber), or synthetic types. Oil paint is considered relatively more complex to use than acrylic or tempera; it is water-resistant and uses toxic solvents like turpentine or benzene. Likewise, the pigments are notably toxic in nature (lead, cadmium). In addition, linseed oil is known to ignite spontaneously. Your options for buying oil paints include: fast-drying oils in tubes, water-mixable oils in tubes and pans or blocks, and oil bars, which come in stick form but are not oil pastels. Paints labeled with "hue" (e.g., cadmium red hue) at the end are artificial ones — they are prone to fading, don't keep their color during mixing, and get muddy easily.
A palette is simply a thin piece of board, usually with a thumb hole, which holds oil paints that an artist mixes together.
The Palette Knife
A palette knife consists of a flexible steel blade with no sharpened cutting edge. A symmetric palette knife with a rounded tip is usually for mixing oil paints on a palette, while an asymmetric knife has a pointed tip and used is for painting on the canvas. Certain oil painting techniques make use of palette knives.
Thinners dilute oil paint, most often to clean your brushes and palette. The most common substance for thinners is turpentine; it keeps oil paints oily but usually has a strong odor. Using mineral spirits also keeps oil paints watery. These materials must be handled with care in a well-ventilated area. It is advised not to use paper, plastic, or styrofoam cups as containers for mediums and thinners.
Mediums also dilute color in your oils, like thinners. Some make oil paints dry faster, increase gloss or transparency, or even reduce overdone thinning. Check the label for what the medium you're buying actually does. The most popular medium out there is linseed oil. While there are arguments about whether or not linseed oil actually causes certain light-colored paints such as white, including blue, to noticeably yellow over time, using poppyseed oil for these hues makes for a safe alternative. Again, as mentioned above: it is advised not to use paper, plastic, or styrofoam cups as containers for mediums and thinners. Mediums include oils (e.g., linseed, walnut, poppy, sunflower, lavander, clover), varnishes (Dammar, Mastic), balsam (e.g., Larch, Venetian, and Strasbourg turpentines, Canada and Copaiva balsam, rectified turpentine), and driers (cobalt, turpentine).
This article is courtesy of www.inforganization.org .