Artist Resources: Painting in Oils

A Down Town Evening by Gyurcsak
Talented painter and technical expert for Utrecht, Joe Gyurcsak, shares with us a little about oil paints and how to apply them.

Oil colors have a unique historical position among mediums in which an artist can work in, because of their direct link to many of the greatest works of art in the world. This will not change anytime too soon for other mediums as they need to remain in use for hundreds of years before they can achieve this recognition. Artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Sargent, Hopper, Pollack and Rose Frantzen have all worked in oils. With new modern masters still using oils as their medium of choice in the 21 century will make it hard to argue against oil colors as being king of the hill among art media.

There are some wonderful tactile qualities about oil color that keep people coming back for more…….

·      Straight out of the tube oil colors have a wonderful body that is just waiting  to be cut into with a brush, painting knife or medium.
·       Oil colors can be precisely glazed in transparent layers to achieve the most subtle color transitions and effects
·      Oil colors can be applied in thin or thick impasto layers retaining brush or knife marks enabling artists to create unique surface effects
·      The vehicle for oil colors are drying oils, those include linseed, safflower, poppy, walnut and these can be diluted by mineral and gum spirits allowing color to flow and level more readily
·      Oil colors can be painted onto 4 unique grounds: lead white, oil priming white, alkyd primers and acrylic gesso grounds. Of these, lead white and oil priming white are favorites for their slower absorption, thus allowing for increased time to manipulate colors especially in the beginning phases of painting.
·      Oil color mediums include a full range of drying properties from super quick drying, Japan, cobalt and alkyd driers to the very slow stand oil.
·      Artists grade oil colors are considered premium level colors. They are defined by these 4 key features: majority of the colors in a line are permanent in lightfastness (will not fade or darken), optimal pigment concentration given each colors specification, single pigment loading of clean high quality color, and top grade oils and stabilizers in the paint which provide consistency stability.
·      The best brushes for oil color are natural Chungking bristle and stiff synthetic brushes for the beginning stages of painting. If an artist prefers looser brush strokes, or if finer finishing is required, then artists use natural red sable brushes or soft synthetic styles.                        

Interboro Brushes are Chungking bristle
To follow more of Joe's personal work and demonstrations or workshops, you can check out his website:

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.