The Basics of Textured Oil Painting
What is Textured Oil Painting?
You may be familiar with many works such as ‘Starry night’ by Vincent Van Gogh, where you can see different layers of the image seemingly emerging off of the canvas. What creates this optical illusion is layering textures, one on top of another. One of the most popular techniques for this is Impasto. Impasto is where paint is laid on an area of the surface in very thick layers, usually thick enough that the brush or painting-knife strokes are visible. Due to the thickness of the paint, the paint can also be mixed right on the canvas. When dry, impasto provides texture. Different tools can create the texture. There are however, many other types of paints that you can use to create textured oil paintings, depending on the conceptualization of the painting you wish to deliver.
The origins of textured oil paintings
Emerging from the Renaissance era, Impasto in its first intentional form arrived under prominent Venetian artists, 16th century painters Titian and Tintoretto. Realizing that by applying different thickness of paint to a canvas, Titian was able to create the optical appearance of his materials ‘coming out’ of the canvas. Subsequently this has been captured by painters across the centuries, notably influencing prominent artists such as Vincent Van Gogh. It proved instrumentally popular amongst landscape, romantic and naturalist works in the 19th century and in the Baroque period. Today, Impasto is included in many classroom settings for budding artists in serving the application of artistic mediums and tools.
Prior to the Renaissance, some of the earliest examples of textured oil paintings could be dated to around 700 AD. The presence of oil paint in the murals of Buddhist murals imply knowledge of the ability. Between 700 AD and the 16th century, other sources are cited that demonstrate an understanding of how to mix oil paint, and use this for other features of art, but it is truly under Titian, that textured oil paintings took their form on canvas.
How Impasto oil paintings are created
Impasto as a technique as such is sensually open to the employ of different techniques. As the paint is spread thickly across the area of the surface, it can be mixed there too. Brush or painting knife strokes remain visible due to the amount of paint applied and the drying time involved. A number of brushes are also popular to use including the use of hog brushes which can create a hairline effect.
Some artists find it beneficial to apply masking tape around the edges of a canvas. Aside from being able to create a multi dimensional effect by having a layer of paint, around and under the ‘under-painting’, it can provide a more natural border for the canvas as well.
Typically not seen as much in watercolour or tempera paintings, Impasto can be applied here in both of them respectively as well. Utilising thickening agents can help raise the level and texture of the canvas to make it appear that it is raising off of the canvas as well. Applying heavy body acrylic gels to Acrylic paint can also provide the consistency needed to create an Impasto effect, as well as using Pastels to Watercolour or Tempera canvases.
The finished Impasto painting however can also be influenced by the drying process, if changes are made during this time, or too much or too little exposure to sunlight or not having an amiably cool, dry place for the textured oil painting to dry. For this reason, protective varnish is applied to help it withstand exposure to the sun as a finished piece.
The techniques used in textured oil painting
Texture is an artistic language of oil painting, which is related to the material nature of oil painting. Oil paint is a film-forming material. After drying, it will form a thick color layer independent of the substrate. The surface will have certain undulations and texture.
The texture of oil painting is related to three factors.
The first one is the substrate. Linen with different textures is processed differently to form a substrate with different textures. For example, the surface of coarse-grained linen will be rougher and have obvious lines, while the surface of fine-grained linen will be more delicate, and the substrate will be smooth. In this case, the texture of the cloth surface can be eliminated.
The second is the brushwork. Different pens and different painting methods will form different textures. Classical painters often use soft ball-tip pens to use indirect painting. The color layer is relatively flat and thin, and it is not easy to see the ups and downs. Modern painters like to use it. The bristle brush combines the direct painting method to paint, the color layer is thicker, the undulations are more, and the brushstrokes are easy to see.
The third is blending agents. Oil-based blending agents are divided into oil-based and emulsion-based ones. The surface gloss of works drawn by oil-based blending agents is relatively high, and the surface of works drawn by emulsion-based blending agents has a matte effect, and the gloss is more subtle.
Some artists like to start with variations of earthly colours in underpainting, particularly Transparent earth red, Yellow Ochre, Raw Amber and Titanium white as they are known to dry quickly, allowing you to blend more slow drying colours on an already dried base.
What is the drying process of Impasto oil paintings?
Typically an Impasto oil painting can take up to two weeks to dry by itself, in natural conditions, or depending on the application of paint thickness used. This can be stimulated by leaving this in a cool dry place, with some exposure to sunlight where possible. Heat however is a factor here, so artists may find that by leaving it in a cooler, dry place the canvas retains more of the brush and knife strokes they employ, as opposed to leaving it in the sun which can create a cracked effect.
With the introduction of modern technology, it would be understandable to think that modern appliances such as hairdryers would be able to advance the drying process. However, textured oil paintings exposure to extreme heat such as this can be damaging, as would putting the textured oil painting in an oven. Some artists however believe the presence of drying oil materials can be helpful, some even arguing that painters can do it overnight! Liquin, Linseed Oil, Galkyd and Walnut Alkyd medium are apparently some of the best to use for this. However, if you are looking to replicate the intricate process of oozing the paint in the direction and form you wish on the canvas, cutting and scoring your desired effects, we recommend allowing the drying process to take place naturally.
How to handle or keep Impasto oil paintings
This can greatly vary depending on the type of texture that has been created by Impasto. For cracked or rougher textures, the application of varnish particularly if gel agents have been employed is a must. Due to the age of some Impasto paintings, it can become necessary to clean this across time. Surprisingly, you can clean this with materials commonly based at home. Using a white cotton wiping cloth, gently soaked in soapy water can wash much of the grime off of the painting itself. If you are not intending on displaying your textured oil painting, then when storing it is important to allow the textured oil painting to have room to breathe. Keeping the painting within shipped bubble wrap traps the moisture which can lead to cracking or damage to the painting. Also, keeping it in an environment that is not exposed to bugs, animals or dust is a must.
In comparison to other forms of paintings, there are often some misconceptions about how Impasto and textured oil paintings can be displayed. Due to the varnish that is applied at the end of the drying process, textured oil paintings do not suffer from any exposure to light or the sun in the way that photographs would. Similarly, there is no need to frame or add glass protection to an oil painting as both help to retain moisture, which would re-activate the gel components of the oil paintings, and so need to be stored in a cool, if not warm, dry place. Avoiding places with high moisture such as near heating vents is a must as it may erode the picture.
How to package and ship impasto oil paintings
Schools of thought on how to best protect your oil paintings can differ, especially if they are to be travelling long distances. Some thoughts to consider for your Impasto or textured oil painting could include, how thick is the impasto style? Is it likely to crack or break during transit? Has a border been left around the canvas, making it more likely to bend or break? Is the mode of transport likely to take bumps in the road, be securely tied down, move around if being shipped by sea or plane?
For this reason, you may want to look at the following ways to best protect your textured oil painting:
- Protect the frame or canvas corners with cardboard protectors or special foam.
- Place a sheet of cardboard at the front and back of the canvas or frame.
- Thoroughly wrap the now protected canvas or frame with bubble wrap, taping this down gently. Applying bubble wrap directly to the canvas may result in indents being made on the picture's surface.
- Depending on the box you use, consider stuffing this with wrapping paper to minimise the canvas or frames ability to move around.
- Use a trusted or reputable courier if not moving this yourself. Some couriers mistakenly believe oil paintings to be flammable, but do not let this deter you from making them aware of the textured oil painting, as you obviously want this to arrive in pristine condition.
- Whilst the nature of oil paint makes the canvas more durable and flexible, avoid rolling where possible, and absolutely do not roll aged oil paintings.
- If shipping multiple textured oil paintings, consider using a sturdy cardboard box with cardboard dividers between each painting. You can also stuff empty space with wrapping paper to prevent movement.
The Market of Textured Oil Painting
How much is a textured oil painting worth
After reading the sections on storing and safely transporting textured oil paintings, you may be wondering why taking all of these precautions is so necessary. This is due to the worth placed upon textured oil paintings. More prominent works by artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt have the potential to sell for millions. How a textured oil paintings worth is determined is usually decided by who created the painting, whether anyone with a hint of celebrity or being famous has owned this, the frame surrounding the painting if applicable. Textured oil paintings by new or modern artists can still start anywhere in the hundreds of pounds!
The global market for textured oil painting
With many blogs advocating that certain types of art are currently the most popular, we can see from online marketplaces such as Etsy that textured oil paintings are more than retaining their popularity. Further, with the rise of street art, and 3D motion, there is certainly the room for textured oil paintings to, if not directly be sold, influence the design and panache of modern day styles. Some current prices can range from between £300 to the thousands online! With social media bolstering the news of famous textured oil paintings becoming available, we can expect to see more auctions. It is not truly known how much more privately retained textured oil paintings sell for due to the anonymity of celebrity and private buyers. ‘Salvator Mundi’, a piece by Leonardo Da Vinci who was famous for his employ of Impasto sold for $450.3 million in 2017, breaking the record for textured oil paintings. So if you create textured oil paintings, or if you are looking to buy or sell, Impasto can be a great investment!
The effect of the Pandemic on textured oil paintings
With wary scepticism due to the nature of the spread of Coronavirus, physical sales of all art pieces except digital and antique have dropped in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, the global arts industry was valued at some $64 billion, dropping to $50 billion in 2020. Whilst this can sound discouraging, in 2020 sales of online art and sales made of antique art pieces have doubled from 2019, meaning if you have a more aged textured oil painting, now could be an optimal time to sell!
How do I sell textured oil paintings?
There are a number of ways for you to sell textured oil paintings. Online marketplaces such as Etsy remain one of the most popular venues for artists creating new textured oil and Impasto pieces today. Other agencies can approach high brow clientele on your behalf, and introduce you to famous figures and celebrities that can help market your approach. If you are looking to sell a more aged textured oil painting, approaching a vendor, agency, or even art galleries themselves could be a lucrative route for you to take. Our collectors here at Kline collective are also very interested in the Impasto paintings we sell, so get in touch today!
What kind of textured oil paintings sell best or are trending now?
Contemporary and minimalist art that feature purely texture based canvases appear to be in high fashion at present. In truth, those in the arts with an appreciation for textured oil paintings are maintaining consistent interest that has spanned the textured oil paint industry from its inception, due to the richness, quality and subject of the materials involved. Auction revenue statistics are currently suggesting that the still highest ranking textured oil painting artist is Pablo Picasso! We hope that we here at the Kline collective have been able to answer all of your questions surrounding textured oil paintings. We currently offer valuations and act as an agency for selling textured oil based paintings, so if you are looking to buy our sell please get in touch with one of our representatives today!