7 Painting Techniques That Every Artist Must Know

Whether you are a beginner or have been painting for some time, it is essential to get your basics right!

It would help you along the way to paint creatively with unparalleled freedom.

As you learn to paint, you will also slowly come up with your repertoire of ideas to create your own masterpiece.

However, to make things easier, we have compiled 7 fundamental oil painting techniques and tips that will give you great insight and help you create great art:

  1. Know Underpainting

This technique helps to built-in contrast and tonal dominance in your painting.

Being the first layer of the painting, it acts as a base wherein you can build in further layers of paint. It is often monochromatic and helps to establish further color values within the painting.

Generally, colors such as burnt umber, transparent earth red, yellow ochre, raw umber, burnt sienna, or ultramarine blue are well-suited for this technique.

Underpainting may sound simple but if used correctly, it can have major effects on your artwork. It can enliven the parts of the painting that are dull and mundane such as a sky, desert or rolling field. For example, a yellow-toned underpainting would work well for a desert scene.

  1. Learn To Build Up Texture

Building up texture can help add depth and extra dimension to your painting.

The easiest way to start off adding texture is to use more paint on your brush than needed wherein the bristles of the brush will leave marks in the paint adding bold texture marks in your artwork.

Generally, harder bristle paintbrushes should be used for building up texture in your artwork as it helps to scrape the texture into the paint.

Remember the Rule of Thumb: The more texture you want to build, the rougher the paintbrush you should use and the more height you want, the more color paint you should use.

  1. Mastering Blocking In

This is a very popular technique while painting outdoors, which is Plein air painting.

Blocking in is the next step after sketching, involving the initial painting process of blocking in the general colors and shapes on the canvas. Generally, very large brushes are used for this and the paint is thinned allowing you to cover the canvas quickly.

The purpose of this process is to lay down the general composition and color harmony helping you get a feel for where the painting is going.

  1. Drybrush Painting

This is the perfect way to add a characteristic scratchy look to your artwork.

This technique involves using a damp paintbrush that is relatively dry but still holds paint. It is important to blot the paintbrush beforehand and use a light hand while applying the paint.

Using old brushes enhances the effect of the dry brushing technique. It is used to create rough surfaces, particularly when the painting needs broken texture, such as ragged and craggy rocks.

  1. Sgraffito

Sgraffito comes from the Italian word ‘sgraffire’. It means ‘to scratch’.

This painting technique involves scratching through a layer of paint leading to a pattern or shape in the color underneath.

You can use any object for sgraffito, from the end of a paintbrush to a fingernail, piece of card, palette knife, a comb, spoon, fork, and more.

The most interesting aspect of sgraffito is you have limitless opportunities to create this effect. You don’t need to restrict yourself to just two colors, but go on as you want. Once the top layer of paint has dried, you can apply another color and scratch through. Or you can apply a range of colors in your bottom layers of the painting so different colors become visible in different parts. 

  1. Working With Mediums

Adding mediums to your paint gives you the flexibility to change the look of your painting by transforming the pigments of the color.

Mediums can help to regulate the consistency, drying time and texture of your paints. For example, you can add medium to acrylic color for a matte effect.

  1. Glazing

This painting method builds up depth and modifies the color of the paint beneath it giving a deep, rich color look to your painting.

Glazing is the term used for a thin, transparent layer of paint, particularly in oils and acrylics. In involves applying paint on top of one another to mix the colors optically.

The important point to remember in glazing is that each layer of paint must be completely dry before a new glaze is applied. Also, an understanding of the colors you are using will help to create better results.

Final Words

Don’t let yourself be limited to these tips and techniques only. Let your imagination go wild and discover tons of different ways to create interesting painting textures. Just remember the key is to paint and paint more!

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