top of page
  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

Dive into the master technique of oil painting

Oil painting is a master painting technique that has been very popular for centuries. However, its implementation requires some technological knowledge, experience and a lot of time. Every mistake that even the most famous masters sometimes did not avoid can irreversibly destroy the resulting image.

It may have happened to you that you discovered the Manes set in one of our stores, in which you will find everything you need for painting with oil. Even so, in the beginning you lacked a certain impulse or knowledge of how to deal with individual materials.

The following lines will therefore be devoted to all readers who would like to learn about the technique of oil painting not only basic information, but also a few tips, hints and interesting facts. Hooray for it!


Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine exactly when and by whom the oil painting was invented. It was a certain development, which according to information began in the 7th century in the territory of today's Afghanistan, where colors composed of pigment and oil were found. However, some people support Giorgio Vasari's view that the oil painting was invented by painter Jan Van Eyck. We will leave it to you to decide what claim you make. But one thing is certain. Oil was used as a binder much earlier than in the late Gothic and Renaissance period, when this technique flourished. For example, Leonardo da Vinci or Raffael Santi used it to realize their masterpieces.

Between the artistic directions and styles alternated one after the other, oil painting kept to the forefront of the most popular techniques from the point of view of artists and donors, and later art collectors. The most famous works created with the help of oil paints include, for example, paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet, Rembrandt van Rijn or Pablo Picasso.

In the 20th century, painting with acrylic paints began to compete with oil painting for several simple reasons, such as easier realization or radiance and color fastness. Nevertheless, oil painting is still considered the so-called royal technique of painting.

Did you know that…?

  • Leonardo da Vinci invented the Sfumato technique, which he applied to his most famous painting, Mona Lisa. The principle consists in overlapping the individual layers of the painting and building space.

  • The Impressionists came up with the Alla prima technique, which was used to capture the moment immediately. The painters painted in the open air until the paint dried. Later, they did not return to the painting.


Oil paints are slow-drying paints consisting of high-quality pigments rubbed in a drying oil, for example safflower, linseed, poppy or walnut. Furthermore, a diluent such as turpentine is added to the color pigments, which affects the viscosity of the colors. Finally, you can enrich the colors with certain properties such as higher gloss, matte, better smoothness of strokes, or faster or slower drying of colors.


Safflower oil

Safflower oil is most often used in combination with turpentine oil, which serves as a diluent. It turns yellow less than linseed oil.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil dries the fastest of these oils, but turns yellow over time. Its polymerized variant hardly turns yellow, but the drying time is a bit longer.

Poppy seed oil

It is only recommended for the Alla prima technique, as it is not good to coat the paint with this oil. During drying, which normally lasts 5 to 8 days, its volume decreases, so the application of paint is very thin.

Walnut oil

The drying time is stated to be 4 to 5 days, it turns yellow less than linseed oil, the colors in combination with it strongly cover, but its price is unfortunately high.



Also called turpentine oil, it accelerates the drying of paints and does not form a film on them. It is also used to clean painting aids.

Rectified turpentine

Compared to classic turpentine, it evaporates more slowly from the colors and there is also no yellowing of the colors.


Damar varnish

It is a solution of damar resin and turpentine, which is used as a final varnish for oil painting.

Turpentine medium

It is a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine, which ensures slower drying of paints.

Wax medium

By combining turpentine with beeswax, you get a medium that ensures the solidification of the paint, which is suitable, for example, for creating relief.



Due to the density of colors and the base material, which is mostly canvas, you need brushes with strong but flexible bristles, which you can find in our e-shop under the name Bristle. The choice of the appropriate size and shape is up to you.


The spatulas are ideal for paste painting techniques. However, creating realistic images will require much more patience than brush painting.


As in the case of spatula painting, this is a paste painting technique in which the paint is extruded from the tube directly onto the canvas. However, the problem occurs when it dries, which takes a long time.

In the end, you will definitely need a wooden pallet, a few cups, cloths and other tools that are commonly used for various painting techniques.

Are you already clear about tools and individual materials regarding oil painting, but do you lack inspiration to start with? Take a look below at a presentation of the works of talented painters. By looking at their portfolio, you can shorten the wait for the second part of this article, in which we will focus on the preparation of the canvas, individual types of painting and we will also show you the specific procedure of oil painting. Look forward to it!

Paul Klee - Ancient Harmony, 1925

Gustav Klimt - Malcesine on Lake Garda, 1913

Jan Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665

Vincent van Gogh - Almond Blossoms, 1890

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa, 1517



bottom of page