A Guide To 7 Oil Painting Techniques

Oil painting is a versatile medium that allows you to generate different results.

The Three Oil Painting Rules

To begin, when painting with oils, it is critical to follow the three oil painting rules. Fat over lean, thick over thin, and slow-drying over fast-drying are three among them.

Following these oil painting rules, each new layer of paint should be more flexible, thicker, and slower drying than the layer underneath. This process prevents the layers from cracking as you work.

Once you’ve understood the guidelines, you can start putting them into practice using the following techniques:


Renaissance painters like Rembrandt and Caravaggio used the technique of chiaroscuro, which contrasts the light and dark portions of a painting.

Chiaroscuro greatly enhances the drama of a piece by bringing a topic to the foreground and generating a three-dimensional illusion.

To use the Chiaroscuro technique effectively, begin with a single light source and work outwards from there when employing this technique.


Scumbling refers to applying thin layers of paint on canvas using a dry, stiff brush. It’s an excellent way for beginners to add texture to their work. As a result, the artwork lacks a smooth finish, with portions of the underpainting still visible.

Alla Prima

Alla Prima wet-on-wet works well for painters in a hurry. You may not be Van Gogh and Monet who finished masterpieces in a single sitting using Alla Prima.

However, your life is far busier than the old masters, and wet-on-wet could provide you with some relief.


Using transparent layers on top of an opaque foundation layer on the canvas is excellent for beginners.

In glazing, each succeeding coats of color have a glossier finish, resulting in a tremendous multi-faceted appearance. Glazing is sometimes applied over a thin paint layer to add luster. Vermeer took this approach in several of his paintings.


The concept of applying color to a completely blank canvas may be unappealing to newcomers to oil painting. Underpainting takes away the anxiety factor by sketching the subject in one thin layer of paint and blotting out any background, so you know where to place it later in the creative process. Jan Van Eyck and Giotto both utilized it as a tool.


Impasto painting, an oil painting technique that may take more experience, was a prominent aspect of many of Van Gogh’s works. Each paintbrush mark is vividly evident in the finished painting, which necessitates deliberate strokes of thick paint. Colors are frequently mixed directly on the canvas by artists who use this approach. When impasto painting is used on specific regions of an artwork rather than the entire canvas, it can help to draw attention to those places. You could even use your palette knife instead of a brush for more decisive strokes.


This oil painting isn’t as famous these days, although it was commonly utilized to depict sculptures throughout the Renaissance. The technique is a monochrome painting style that uses black, white, and grey to show light, dark, and shading.

Grisaille may be outdated because so many colors are accessible today. Still, it can work great in underpainting.

Before going on too strong, unpredictable colors, beginners may experiment with this older talent.