Oil Painting Techniques

There are three basic approaches to creating an oil painting. One method is to tone the entire canvas with a layer of transparent color (an imprimatur), and then build up the painting with a series of thin layers of color (glazes) on top of the initial color. Another approach involves building up the layers of the painting from dark to light or light to dark; for example, starting by blocking in all the darkest values, then adding the midvalues, and finishing with the lightest values. A third approach is called alla prima (Italian for “at once”), wherein all the paint is applied in a single painting session; the opaque colors are laid in essentially the same way they will appear in the final painting.


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