Core skills: ap­ply­ing oil paints

Howard Lyon con­tin­ues his five-part se­ries that will help you be­gin us­ing oil paint. In this in­stal­ment he ex­plains the many ways you can ap­ply oils to the can­vas

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Howard Lyon re­veals the many ways of get­ting the medium on to the can­vas.

Oil paint is won­der­fully ver­sa­tile. It can be ap­plied in thick ex­pres­sive im­pas­tos, or thinned down and used al­most like wa­ter­colours. It can be brushed or scrubbed, knifed on or scratched out, ap­plied in washes or painted in patches. There are what seems like an end­less va­ri­ety of medi­ums and ad­di­tives you can work with to create dif­fer­ent ef­fects.

How­ever, you can use oils with­out adding a medium. Most of my work is done with paint di­rect from the tube. Some medi­ums are added to shorten or lengthen dry­ing times; oth­ers change the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the paint. Paint out of the tube is of­ten called stiff or short, and will re­tain your brush stroke – es­pe­cially with coarser brushes. If you add fluid medium, such as lin­seed oil or tur­pen­tine, it be­comes what’s known as long. It won’t re­tain the peaks of the brush strokes, but will level out.

Paint­ings are gen­er­ally more in­ter­est­ing when you use a va­ri­ety of tech­niques when ap­ply­ing paint. It’s an­other form of con­trast that pro­vides va­ri­ety and com­plex­ity. Howard has worked as an il­lus­tra­tor and art di­rec­tor, as well as a fine artist for gal­leries and col­lec­tors. You can see his art at www.howard­lyon.com.

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