Explained: Basic Oil Painting Techniques


Oil painting is one of the most widely practiced painting styles in the history of art. Almost every painter who has ever taken a brush in hand knows about oil painting. You must also be learning the magical skill of oil painting. 

Do you know that understanding a concept down to its last detail is the best part? Yes, the first is that you can use that knowledge to create artwork. And the other benefit is that you can converse with a fellow artist where you both share a common tongue. 

Yes, imagination and creativity are the key ingredients to develop fantastic artworks, but if these ingredients are combined with technical prowess, the results will be extraordinary. Creativity and perspective thinking is man’s understanding and can rarely be taught, but technical knowledge can certainly be shared. So, here are a few oil painting techniques that you should know. 

Most Used Oil Painting Techniques


Scumbling refers to the broken and slightly textured effect that is done by applying a small amount of paint. This painting style is exercised by using a bristle brush, and the spectator might perceive it as a broken glaze. 

The key term that resonates very well with scumbling is the broken application of paint. Compared to glazing, scumbling is relatively less smooth and delicate. This techniue is often used in the painting to create an illusion or aerial depth effect in the artwork.


Glazing is yet another effective technique that has been used by painters to create unique artworks. In this technique, the artist paints a semi-transparent layer of paint on the canvas or linen. However, this semi-transparent glaze is applied over the top of an opaque paint layer. 

Mostly, the underlying opaque layer is single-colored. The glazing layer sits on top of this bottom layer and settles intermittently in-between the colors. Glazing might sound simple, but it is actually a complex and time-consuming task. 

As you have understood that glazing is easier said than done. While practicing this technique, you must also take care of two other aspects. First, follow the fat over the lean rule, and second, the quantity of oil in every subsequent layer of paint must be more than the preceding ones. 

Pro Tip: When you are glazing, using translucent colors will give much better results than opaque ones. 


Chiaroscuro is an Italian word that means light and dark. In painting, the chiaroscuro technique means striking a balance between the light and dark. The most significant impact of this technique is realized by creating a three-dimensional art form that also creates an exciting and dramatic effect on the artwork. 

The technique behind this is to use contrasting light and dark colors, but not simple or subtle contrasts. These are heavy and violent contrasts that are also added with the spotlight effect. 


Grisaille is one of the three types of monochrome painting forms. In French, Gris means gray. For the paintings that are made with brown monochrome, the term is brunaille and the same for the green-colored paintings is verdaille. 

Like the chiaroscuro technique, this form of painting method was also practiced dominantly in the Renaissance era. Grisaille was mostly practiced to imitate the sculptures. Some painters also use this technique as an underlying paint coat combined with the glazing technique.  


Just as it sounds, blending refers to the mixture of two colors while they are still wet to create a mixed color. Blending may seem simple, but there are various caveats involved while practicing this kind of technique. 

Most importantly, you have to keep your foot away from the throttle while practicing blending. This means that you must not over-blend and keep it balanced. Over-blending will give plastic and overly-refined appearance to your artwork, and it will certainly give an impression of an artificial painting and not an original one. 

Blending is a technique that is overly exploited by beginners because it is relatively easy to deal with. Plus, it is convenient to blend with oil paints rather than acrylic ones. This is because the former stays wet for a longer time and is versatile. 

Pro Tip: Once you have finished blending, don’t judge the quality of the paint upfront. Step back a little and then look at the finesse work that you have created. If you look at it up close, it will look messy, distorted, and uneven. But the true reflection of blending is shown from a little distance. 

Alla Prima or Wet on Wet

Wet on wet means that the painters do not wait for the preceding coats to dry out and apply another layer on top of the previous ones. There are many reasons given by the artists to practice this technique, but the major one was time. 

First of all, oil paints take a lot of time to dry out. Sometimes the painting even takes months to complete. So, wet on wet was initially practiced to complete the painting faster, sometimes even in a single session. The impressionist painters used this painting technique more often as it allowed them to paint the light effects with better efficiency.


Once you have mastered the aforementioned basics of oil painting techniques, you can give a go at creating a masterpiece of your own. In case, this seems a lot of work that requires patience, you have an alternative to adorn your house with an oil painting from https://www.1st-art-gallery.com.

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