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What are the Advantages of Oil Paints?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 16, 2024
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Artists have used oil paints for hundreds of years, and they have been dated to as early as 13th century England, where they were used for simple decoration. In the early years, however, many artists chose to use tempera paints instead of oil because they were able to dry more quickly. In the 15th century, Flemish artists experimented with combining the two types of paints, but it was not until the 17th century that pure oil paints became a more common art medium. The slow drying time is considered an advantage by some painters. This type of paint is very durable, and it produces bright colors that are easily blendable.

Oil paints are slower drying than other forms of paint because they are made of small particles of pigment that are suspended in a drying oil. While some artists may find this slow-drying property bothersome, most artists consider this type of paint to be an essential media that should be taught to every art student. This is partly because of the many artistic masterpieces that have been created using the paint, but it is also because oil paints create luminous colors that are hardwearing, making them a good choice for creating new works of art.

There are many advantages to using oil paints, aside from its hardwearing property. They can also be left open for long periods of time, and in fact, they can often be left exposed to air for several weeks without drying. This characteristic makes it possible for an artist to work on a painting over several sessions without fear of the paint drying up too early. Of course, this trait can be looked at as a disadvantage by some, because it takes weeks for a project to be finished, and the slow drying process can make it difficult to move on to the next stage of the painting.

Oil paints are also excellent for blending with surrounding paint. When blended on canvas, they can produce artistic brush strokes and blends that are not possible with other forms of paint. For some artists, however, this feature can be viewed as a disadvantage, because it is also possible to accidentally blend colors while painting that were not meant to be combined.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Jan 18, 2013

One thing that people might like to try is the oil paints that can be dried by heat. There's a special kind of paint, I forget the name, that looks like oil paints, except that they won't dry unless you apply heat to them.

So, you can work on the painting as much as you want and it won't dry unless you want it to. I'm not sure if that's better or worse for beginners, but it does cut down on waste, since you won't have the leftovers from mixing oil paints dry up.

By lluviaporos — On Jan 18, 2013

@anon11404 - If it's a fairly valuable or sentimental piece you might want to get it restored before putting a finishing coat on it. There are definitely people who will do that for you.

I'll never forget the first time I tried oil paints. I had been doing an art course and we'd mostly been working with acrylics, which are fun. But when we finally got to trying oils, I realized what all the fuss was about. Even my lame paintings seemed more beautiful, just because of the glowing colors. It made me really want to learn how to use them properly.

Unfortunately, the best oil paints are very expensive and even cheap ones are twice as much as acrylics, so I don't really feel like I should be using them until I get better at this whole art thing.

By surflover00 — On Sep 01, 2010

shoeshopper- Oil paints are typically for more advanced painters. The techniques for using oil paints are often complicated and require a lot of practice and instruction. Additionally, oil paints tend to be very expensive. It can cost a lot of money if you are a beginner and make a lot of mistakes and have to end up throwing a lot of paintings away.

I recommend starting with watercolor paints. They are inexpensive and are easy to blend and use. Once you feel that you have a few techniques down, start by purchasing a few oil paints. Buy more once you are more confident in your skills.

By shoeshopper — On Sep 01, 2010

Are oil paints suitable for beginners? Or are they for more advanced artists?

By lawnmower — On Sep 01, 2010

anon11404- Make sure that you keep your paints in a dry, cool area. Paints that are kept in very hot locations can become dry. Also, put a finishing product on your painting once it is done. Many craft stores will sell finishing sprays that help preserve the paint and prevent smudging.

By anon11404 — On Apr 15, 2008

my old painting is dry and chipping what should l use to keep it from being so dry and chipping?

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