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Oil painting is one of the oldest and most common painting techniques. While its oldest known use in Europe dates back to the 11th century, oil painting techniques weren't widely used for artistic painting until the Renaissance.

The cultural rebirth of European society in the early 15th century led to a great interest in art and philosophy. During this awakening, artists realised that oil painting produced higher saturation and colour depth, allowing them to create captivating artworks.
Shortly after, the Church and wealthy patrons started commissioning artworks from popular artists, such as Jan van Eyck or Sandro Botticelli. By the 16th century, oil painting became the most common medium for artists, thanks to influential artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio, whose works still influence the art world.
From the 16th century onwards, oil painting became increasingly popular. Today, it's still the prime medium for artists despite the emergence of much more practical mediums, such as acrylic painting.

What is the Oil Painting Technique

The oil painting is the use of colourful pigments with drying oil as a binder to create artwork. Spreading from Europe, oil painting is the most common technique for artistic painting today. With various mediums and forms, the oil painting technique provides artists with creative freedom.

Types of Oil Paintings

Oil paintings are among the most preferred decorative pieces. Thanks to their fascinating colours and a wide array of themes, one can find the perfect oil painting to adorn any place. Still, when looking for original oil paintings for sale UK, one should consider which type of oil painting they want. Following is a list of the most popular types of oil paintings:
  • Modern oil paintings: These oil paintings usually contain contemporary touches and follow recent trends. Modern oil paintings are often characterised by cityscapes, vivid depictions of nature and a vast variety of themes.
  • Classic oil paintings: Classic oil paintings usually emphasise realism and artiness. This type of oil painting is ideal for adding creative flair to a space.
  • Orientalist oil paintings: Those interested in Eastern cultures might enjoy Orientalist oil paintings. These artworks often portray the everyday life and culture of the Orient in an authentic way.
  • Conceptual oil paintings: Conceptual art highlights the concept or idea behind an artwork rather than its appearance and execution. Thus, conceptual oil paintings might be more complex in terms of the arrangement of elements.

Popular and Historical Paintings and Artists

Caravaggio, Saint Gerome Writing, 1605–06

Caravaggio was among the most controversial masters of the 16th century. Just like his life, macabre and dark themes, including death and pain, abounded in the artist's works.
The use of chiaroscuro, a strong use of contrasting colours in oil painting, was typical of Caravaggio's works. His use of the technique, which came to be known as tenebrism, influenced many future artists, including Rembrandt.
Although Caravaggio's oil paintings art includes more popular pieces, Saint Gerome Writing is a perfect example of his tenebrism. The painting depicts a Saint Gerome in the process of translating the Vulgate. The background is completely dark; only the saint, his table and several props are visible.

Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642

One of the most famous artists of his era, Rembrandt influenced the works of future artists through his masterful artworks. Most of Rembrandt's artworks became known for their realism and rich details; however, it was his iconic 1642 work, The Night Watch, that made him gain immense popularity.
The Night Watch is unique for various reasons, including its immense size, as well as the dramatic use of tenebrism and motion. Today, the oil painting is known as the most famous artwork of the Dutch Golden Age and a representation of Rembrandt's artistic style.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937

During the first half of the 20th century, Europe saw two world wars, the rise of radical ideologies and socio-political changes. These events not only dramatically changed people's everyday lives but were also reflected in artists' works, including those of Pablo Picasso. 
Guernica, among the most famous pieces of Picasso, is seen as the most powerful anti-war oil painting in history. The painting depicts the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937 by Nationalist forces, with the help of Nazis, leaving hundreds of people dead.

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

Frida Kahlo's impact on pop art and culture is undebatable. The Mexican artist became a revolutionary figure in her time by addressing a wide range of social and cultural matters, such as gender, class, race, identity and postcolonialism, in her works.
The Broken Column is a perfect example of Kahlo's artistic style. Unlike most of her paintings, this one doesn't contain animals or other humans, yet it depicts a prominent part of her life: her damaged spine after a car accident at 18. The artist had undergone several spinal surgeries and painted the Broken Column shortly after one of them.
In the painting, she portrayed physical pain via a crumbling Ionic column in place of her spine, nails digging into her skin and tears running down her face.


How to Clean Oil Paintings?

Oil paintings might require attention due to their fragility. Here is a brief guide on how to clean oil paintings:
  • Select a dry, soft brush or a soft microfiber cloth,
  • Start from one of the top corners of the painting and swipe the dust off across the surface,
  • Work in a small area at a time and work your way slowly down until you reach the bottom of the canvas,
  • Don't increase your speed or pressure; be patient and clean all parts of the painting.

How to Frame an Oil Painting?

Before framing an oil painting, you should choose a suitable frame. Measuring the canvas is essential to picking an adequately sized frame.
Once you have the measurements, you can decide on the frame's style. We recommend plain and minimalist frames for abstract or surreal paintings since they complement the paintings' complex nature. On the other hand, you can go with more elaborate frames for classic pieces or landscapes to enhance their beauty.
After choosing the frame, it’s time to hang your artwork:
  • Remove the frame's glass,
  • Make sure the frame doesn't have sharp bits on its edges,
  • Lay your frame face down and place the painting within,
  • Once the painting is correctly spaced, secure it by putting frame clips,
  • Secure cardboard paper on the back of the frame as a dust covering,
  • Install mounting rings to the back of your frame,
  • Hang the artwork on the wall.

How to Protect Oil Paintings?

Preserving oil paintings is the key to prolonging their lifespan. Here are a few tips to preserve your paintings in the right way:
  • Always keep your paintings away from direct sunlight,
  • Don't use water, baby oil, or alcohol to clean your oil paintings,
  • Prevent extended exposure to ultraviolet light,
  • Revarnish your paintings every once in a while - if you have no experience with varnishing, you can consult a professional,
  • To prevent damage to your oil painting buy quality frames.

What to Consider When Buying?

Those who want to buy oil paintings online should consider several things:
  • Your budget matters: Since original oil painting prices can vary, it's important to find an artwork that fits your budget.
  • Theme is important: There are many oil on canvas paintings for sale with differing themes. So, you should make sure to choose a piece that matches your personal taste.
  • Buy what you like: Art is supposed to be something that inspires and excites you. Therefore, always buy the artworks you admire and never go for a piece that doesn't interest you.
  • Always go for quality artwork: The key to finding the most beautiful oil paintings is to work with a reliable dealer that sells quality pieces. Thankfully, you need not look further; at Simurg, we always aim to provide you with the highest quality products of creative artists.
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