Oil painting is still one of the most widely used techniques, offering many KAZoART artists the opportunity to express themselves in oil paintings on canvas, as original as they are varied, whether abstract or figurative. The history of this technique goes back a long way, yet the infinite possibilities offered by oil painting artwork on canvas are yet to be fully explored. Discover our outstanding selection of oil on canvas or knife oil paintings!
The beginning of oil painting is traditionally associated with Flemish artists. The Van Eyck brothers, Flemish primitives, are best known for their technical and artistic achievements: The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) is one of the first oil on canvas works in Europe. The paintings were often commissions, therefore portraits or famous scenes, where light, raised texture and detail are highlighted, like in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (1503-1506) or Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633).
From the 19th century onwards, artists began to leave the comfort of their studios and their works became increasingly inspired by nature. Paul Cézanne's The hanged man’s house, Auvers-sur-Oise (1873), Van Gogh's Sunflowers (1888) and Claude Monet's Water Lilies famously illustrate this. Realism was considered less important than emotion and colours became the main focus of many studies.
From the beginning of the 20th century, Vasily Kandinsky initiated oil painting in a modern shift towards abstraction Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles (1913). The study of pure shapes and colours then became a recurring theme for many artists, including Kasimir Malevitch with Painterly Realism of a Football Player (1915), and Mark Rothko in 1953 with Color-Block n°61 (Rust and Blue).
During the Renaissance, artists prepared their own oil paints using natural pigments. Each artist had their own personal formulas, which were often complicated, meticulous and time-consuming. At this period, there were no drying additives (e. g. white lead), therefore, it took very long to dry works, painted on wooden boards, which were heavy, difficult to handle and of limited size. The arrival of oil painting was accompanied by that of the canvas medium: two major advances in art, giving way to oil painting on canvas.
The 19th century saw the arrival of a technical revolution: the possibility to buy paint that had already been mixed and packaged in tubes. Impressionist artists immediately seized the opportunity to get out in nature, and the latter became a central subject in their works, with the new challenge of painting quickly in order to capture the moment.
Oil painting on canvas remains a widely used technique, as its slow drying time and the possibility of mixing pigments make it an infinite source of inspiration for many contemporary artists.