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Oil Painting Techniques for Beginners

Priya Johnson
Oil painting is an art that requires patience and perseverance. This form of art has been embraced by artists for centuries due to the versatility of oil paints. There are several techniques of oil painting which when combined yield rewarding, breathtaking results.
For centuries, oil paints have been the first choice of artists across the globe due to their versatility, gorgeous shades, and long-lasting properties. Moreover, oil paints are slow to dry, thus, making it possible for the artist to change the paint shade while it is still wet. Oil painting techniques can appear complex for beginners, however, some patience and dedication can help master this art.

Basic Techniques of Oil Painting

There are different oil painting techniques without which one cannot paint to one's potential. However, grasping these techniques will take a considerable amount of study. Some of the basics pertaining to these techniques are as follows:
Dagger Stroke: This stroke is not about trying to capture any sort of image on the canvas, but is about empowering the canvas with one's creative energy. To comprehend the pros of this stroke, one needs to realize how a subject or image is molded.
In oil painting, one is actually molding the image, similar to what a sculptor would do with clay. The strokes require energy and involve dagger shapes brought onto the canvas surface by the brush.
The most interesting aspect about this stroke is that the end result can be so crude and raw, that nobody except the artist knows what has been painted. However, the subject in question will be hidden in the foundation. According to the artist's desire, the subject can be subtly or boldly revealed to the viewers.
The subtleness of these strokes can keep viewers mesmerized for years together.
Painting Knife Technique: This stroke helps create fantastic effects using just one stroke. For example, one can create the tail feathers of a parrot using this technique. This technique involves the use of a painting knife, wherein one can thrust all the creative energy onto the canvas just like the dagger stroke, but quicker.
The paint is spread onto the canvas using the knife. However, the results of both, the dagger stroke and the painting knife stroke are very different.
Blending Technique: Once the creative energy has been brought onto the canvas, it's time to refine the painting. Refining helps remove raw paint, which could otherwise cause problems in the future. Moreover, refining assists in the commencement of the subject's molding process.
Blending should be used as technique engaged in empowering and refining raw paint. This technique should be used as sparingly as possible, so as to enable the vast multitude of other paint effects. Oft, it is observed that too much blending results in the reduction of visual energy in the painting.
For subjects embedded with softness and several light effects such as fog, mist, spray, etc., the blending technique is not a good idea.
Caress Stroke: What makes oil paints all the more gorgeous is its butterfly silk texture. This stroke is applied with the brush in a flat position onto the canvas. One can even change the color of the underpaint by this technique. Besides altering the color, this stroke also enhances the texture of the painting.
For these strokes, the paint is loaded into the brush such that it lightly touches the painting surface, so as to attain a sensitive approach.
Once you've mastered these techniques, you can learn more complex techniques like abstract, classical, landscape oil painting techniques, etc. The different techniques can be combined as per personal requirement. The permutation and combination of these different techniques will help define one's style.