Category: Oil Painting

Learn the Oil Painting Technique: Blending

Color blending is a technique wherein two colors are combined to create another color. Each color has a separate blend factor that determines how much of each color is combined into the final product. There are different ways to blend colors and different ways with different medium. Today, I will share some techniques in color blending using oil paints.


How to start?
Once you’ve decided what colors you want to blend to create an effect, you might want to blend small amounts of each and check if it’s the color you’re looking for then you can make necessary adjustments. Move the brush in a way from one color into the other and back or in a zigzag motion. Wipe off any paint from your brush before you start blending or better yet, start with a clean, dry brush so you won’t add any extra paint that is not part of your color scheme.

Indigo sunset original oil painting, seascape  by Gina De Gorna
Indigo sunset original oil painting, seascape
by Gina De Gorna
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How to blend on canvas?
You don’t want the colors mix equally so stroking your brush sideways at least initially or else you’ll have strips of concentrated colors in your blended color. Remember to keep your strokes short and picking different percentages of blending. Keep repeating until it blends. As your tip gets thinner you get a smoother result, and once is smooth enough you can use blur or smudge tool to finish the job in case you want perfect gradients. If you think your blended color is not blending well or it’s too concentrated on canvas, all you need to do is to pick up a little fresh paint in the color that’s at risk of being lost then work from the outside or the darker shade until its blended. You can take your time blending with oil paints because they dry slowly unlike with acrylic paints.

flat-brushWhat type of brush and brushstroke is best to use in blending?
Create a transition between the first two shades using a crosshatch stroke. Flat brushes tend to work best for blending. Smooth the blend by using parallel strokes along the transition you just created. The parallel strokes should be perpendicular to the lighter shades. Use a clean brush to blend the next shade, and repeat the technique using first crosshatched strokes followed by parallel stokes. A clean brush should always be used when working with a new shade, even if the actual color is the same.


Franz Kline: Master of Black and White

“I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important.” – Franz Kline

When we talk about paintings, we visualize canvases filled with several colors portraying an extensive array of subjects. However, one artist became popular during the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1940s to 1950s because of his black and white paintings.

Franz Kline is an American Abstract Expressionist is widely known for his large-scale black and white abstract paintings. In his early years as a painter, he started as a realist and primarily influenced by Old Masters. When he stayed in New York during the 1940s, he became friends with abstract expressionists including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock which helped him develop another style and he was influenced to work with abstractions.

Kline’s abstract paintings are described as “dynamic,” “spontaneous,” and “intense” earning him the label as an “action painter.” He only used black and white paints on most of his works but nonetheless, they still show his intense style and less focus or no focus at all on the actual imagery. His works have been interpreted as landscapes, cityscapes, bridges, buildings, railroads and other industrial subjects. Some also likened his style to Japanese calligraphy. Kline denied any hidden message behind his paintings which interested a later generation of Minimalist artists.

Here are some of his celebrated works:

Painting Number 2

Painting Number 2 (1954)
Painting Number 2 is an oil on canvas measuring 6′ 8 1/2″ x 8′ 9″. It is displayed at The Museum of Modern Art.

Painting Number 7

Painting Number 7 (1952)
Painting Number 7 is one of Kline’s best examples of black and white artworks. It shows broad, geometric black lines.


Untitled (1952)
This oil painting is done on paper which is mounted on canvas. It shows Kline’s signature strong, block lines.

Unfortunately, Kline has no catalogue raisonné or an official listing of his artworks. Many forgeries of his works have been traded and it is difficult to prove the authenticity of the paintings being offered in art auction houses. An article revealed that at least nine Kline paintings which have been traded in Christie’s (London and New York), Koller (Zurich), and Tajan (Paris) may have been fakes. There lack of catalogue raisonné risks private collectors and major auction houses in buying a seemingly original Kline painting which in the end would turn out to be just a forgery.

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Learn the Oil Painting Technique: Underpainting and Glazing


It is an initial layer of paint that will serve as a foundation and help define subsequent layers of paint for your painting. Underpaintings are usually monochromatic which reflects light through the over-painting layers and gives a painting the luminosity. There are several different methods of underpainting were used by the old masters.



underpainting effect

· Grisaille
Pronounced as “griz-eye” this is a method of underpainting with different gray paints.

· Verdaccio
It is a method of underpainting with colors of olive or green gray paint in the light areas. It often resembles a moonlight effect.

· Imprimatura
This underpainting method usually uses transparent layers of earth colors (ra umber or burnt umber). It is used as first stain to tone the canvas.

· Wash-in Underpainting
A variation of the Imprimatura underpainting. The subject or composition can be drawn into a thin semi-transparent layer of raw umber or burnt umber. Rags, paper towels and paint brushes are used to lift out the paint exposing the lights to illuminate the subject.


Glazes can change the hue and texture of a surface. Drying time will depend on the amount and type of paint medium used in the glaze. Different media can increase or decrease the rate at which oil paints dry. Oil paits usually takes longer to dry. If a paint is too opaque, painters will add special media or a lot of medium to the paint making them more transparent for the purposes of glazing. Glazing has the strongest impact on showing middle tones and dark colours.

Reproduction of Girl with a Red Hat by Jan Vermeer
Glazed reproduction of “Girl with a Red Hat” original by Jan Vermeer

Here are some tips on how to glaze oil paintings.

· Begin the oil painting as usual by sketching and putting visual resources as necessary, but do so as though the painting were going to be complete in one layer.

· Once completely dry, after a week or so, begin the next layer of paint. The glazes will soften the colours and deepen the tones. Each “glaze” slightly modifies the colour of what has already been painted on the canvas. When you look at it the colours are automatically mixed optically giving a rich deep colour.

· Putting a little linseed oil into the oil paint will create a translucent colour. Oil paint comes in transparent, semi-transparent, and opaque and you will learn which is which the longer you paint with oils. All paint colours can be used as glazes, even opaque paints, used as glaze to paint mist or fog.

· Apply the oil paint glaze onto selected areas. A second layer of slightly darker colour will deepen the colour without changing it completely.

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Most Famous Women in Paintings in the World Part 2

NPG 2082; Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown artist
The Darnley Portrait

Yesterday, I listed the women who were immortalized through paintings by famous artists. Now is the second half of this list.

6. The Darnley Portrait (circa 1575) by Unknown Netherlandish artist
The Darnley Portrait became the official template or face pattern of England’s Queen Elizabeth I in the 1590s. This portrait was constantly reused for all of the Queen’s official paintings in the said period. It shows the Queen with her crown and scepter, the symbols of sovereignty.

7. Girl with a Pearl Earring (circa 1665) by Johannes Vermeer
The Girl with a Pearl Earring is an oil on canvas masterpiece by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is considered the “Mona Lisa of the North” and the “Dutch Mona Lisa.” As with Vermeer’s other works, the true subject of this painting is unknown. There are several theories as who is the girl in the painting and many say that it is Vermeer’s eldest daughter Maria Magdalena.

8. Fritza von Riedler (1906) by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt mainly painted with women as subjects and one of his paintings is Fritza von Riedler. It is one of the first portraits that Klimt created which shows a woman who is sitting and is adorned with frothy lace in her gown and satin ribbons on her head. The painter filled the canvas with decorative elements, similar to the Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. Not much is known about the woman behind the painting but it is one of his most famous paintings.

9. L’Arlésienne: Madame Joseph-Michel Ginoux (1888-89) by Vincent van Gogh
The subject of Vincent van Gogh’s L’Arlésienne painting was Marie Ginoux, the owner of the Café de la Gare in Arles, France where the painter lived for a few months. Van Gogh created several versions of the painting which depicts Marie seated at a table with books. The first version was painted on burlap and the second version was on a pre-primed canvas and instead of books, Van Gogh put a parasol and gloves in the painting.

10.Portrait of Madame X (1884) by John Singer Sargent
The Portrait of Madame X, also known as Madame X, is a portrait of a young socialite Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau. The subject was in a standing pose with her head turned to the left, creating a profile. The painting created a scandal among the Parisian elites as it showed the socialite in a low-cut black satin dress, unflattering white make-up, and one dress strap hanging off one shoulder.
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Most Famous Women Paintings in the World Part 1

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

With unlimited subjects and inspiration in the world, famous artists at some point in their careers have created paintings of women. Here’s a list of the most famous of them all:

1. Mona Lisa (1503-1519) by Leonardo da Vinci
Who doesn’t know the Mona Lisa? The woman’s identity is still a mystery and there are different speculations made about the painting’s subject, including that it’s Leonardo da Vinci in female form. But the most accepted and highly plausible explanation is that the Mona Lisa is the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo who may have commissioned the art. Many are fascinated with this masterpiece because of the subject’s ambiguous expression, subtle forms, and illusionism. Also, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, emphasizing the piece’s value and its importance in art history.

2. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) by Gustav Klimt
The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is oil, silver, and gold on canvas. It is one of the most expensive paintings sold in 2006. The portrait depicts Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a wealthy industrialist, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer who commissioned the art. Klimt used the Jugendstil style, also known as the Art Nouveau, in creating the portrait.

3. Dora Maar au Chat (1941) by Pablo Picasso
This painting depicts Pablo Picasso’s lover, Henriette Theodora Markovitch, also known as Dora Maar. It shows the subject sitting on a chair with a small cat on her shoulders. It is one of the world’s most expensive paintings, being  sold at $95.2 million and currently valued at $109.5 million.

4. Whistler’s Mother (1871) by James McNeill Whistler
The original name of Whistler’s Mother is Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 and it is displayed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It is one of the most famous works of an American artist outside the US and is considered an American icon. The woman in the oil painting is of the painter’s mother sitting since she got uncomfortable posing while standing for long periods.

5. Portrait of Gala (1931) by Salvador Dalí
The Portrait of Gala depicts Salvador Dalí’s wife, Gala Dalí. The painter adored his wife who acted as his business manager and he said that she saved him from madness and untimely deaths. Unlike the previous paintings of Gala, this portrait lacks the usual sympathetic and adoring images of his wife due to Gala’s extramarital affairs which left him insecure.

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Different Types of Brushes in Oil Painting

Aside from canvas, paintbrush is one of the most important material an artist has to have. You have to have good brushes with you to create good paintings. Even a good painter cannot come up with wonderful pieces is he’s using bad brushes so make sure you have good brushes with you. For oil painting, a good brush will retain its shape when dipped in paint, will bend in each stroke, and return to its original shape after each brush stroke.

Brush Hair
Oil painting brushes are available in bristle and sable hairs. Bristle brushes come from pigs’ hair and are used to begin a painting. The bristles are strong and the tips are naturally split, allowing the brush to hold more paint. Use bristle brushes which are half an inch wide or wider. Sable brushes are soft-haired brushes made from the hair of the tail of a sable marten which are a bit expensive. These brushes are perfect for painting details and small areas.

There are also brushes using synthetic hairs which are also cheaper than brushes with natural hair. If you are against using animals in your art, use synthetic brushes for your peace of mind.


Brush Shapes
Brushes come in different shapes. The most common shapes are: Flats, Filberts, Brights, and Rounds. Other shapes are the Fan, Angle, Mop, and Rigger. Each brush is used for a variety of techniques in applying paint.

Flat brush. A flat brush has long bristles arranged in a rectangular shape. It is a primary blending brush and used for spreading paint quickly and evenly on a canvas. It is considered as the most versatile among the brushes.

Filberts. A Filbert is a flat brush with an oval shape. It is used in blending and creating areas with softer edges. Many artists have advised on using filberts with natural hairs since the hairs stick together better when wet.

Brights. Brights are flat brushes but with shorter and stiff hairs than flats. Use this brush if you want your strokes to show in the painting. It is used in thinner painting styles and also, thicker applications of paint such as impasto.

Rounds. Rounds are brushes with a pointed tip which provides little variation in the size and shape of the brush stroke. It is used for painting small details and line work.

Fan. As the name suggests, a Fan brush is shaped like a fan. It is used in blending large areas, creating soft blends of several colors. It can also be used to soften brush strokes on the canvas.

Angle. Angle brushes have short bristles and longer ones at one end, creating an angular shape. It can be used for general application of paint as well as detail work.

Mop. Mop is a large brush with a rounded edge. Larger sized Mops look like a blush-on brush which are great in broad soft paint application.

Rigger. A Rigger is a round brush with long hairs used in painting delicate lines and dots.

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Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s and Famous Works

Abstract expressionism is an art movement that boomed after World War II, during the 1940s and 50s. It is the first American art movement that influenced the international art scene. The name came from the German Expressionists which is known for emotional intensity and the European abstract schools such as Futurism and Cubism. The movement is known for its spontaneity, energy, and messiness. Works done in the movement show an unconventional application of paint, loose writing, and colors that create tension. Paintings do not show recognizable subjects, instead, you’ll see colors, textures, lines, forms, and mixed media.

No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock

The years prior and during the World War II, European artists took refuge in the United States. Paris, previously the center of the world’s art culture, was damaged after the war and New York replaced Paris as the art capital of the world. Most artists in this movement live in New York, giving the movement another name, The New York School. They created new ways of applying paint on canvas, such as Jackson Pollock’s “drip” technique, Willem de Kooning’s “Action painting,” and Mark Tobey’s “white writing.”

Famous Works

No.5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock is one of the most influential artist in the Abstract Expressionist Movement. His No.5 painting is the second most expensive painting in the world and is considered as the best example of artworks in the movement. Pollock drizzled yellow and brown paints over the fiberboard, using his emotions take the lead of how the paint was put on the canvas.

The Liver is the Cock’s Comb (1944) by Arshile Gorky 
Founder of the 1920s cultural movement called Surrealism, André Breton considered this painting as “one of the most important paintings made in America.”

The Gate (1959-60) by Hans Hofmann 
Hans Hofmann painted The Gate from 1959-60. The painting is part of a series inspired by architectonic volumes. Hofmann painted rectangles in several bold colors which may seem subjectless but studying the piece, you will see that the relationship among the shapes in the painting resembles a gate as stated by the title.

Painting Number 2 by Franz Kline

 Woman Series (1950-52) by Willem de Kooning 
In the 1950s, Willem de Kooning, a famous “action painter,” exclusively painted women as subjects. He used strong brush strokes and high-key colors which produced blatant images of women. The paintings exaggerated the features of women such as huge limbs, big eyes, and toothy snarls.

Painting Number 2 (1952) by Franz Kline 
Franz Kline is best known for his paintings in black and white. Many think that his pieces are influenced by the Japanese calligraphy but he denied it.

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Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings in the World

Buying a painting costs a lot of money. A private collector can spend  millions of dollars for a coveted painting. Find out more about the most expensive oil paintings in the world sold at auction houses or private sales. The list is ordered according to the inflation-adjusted value of the paintings and the prices indicated are the original prices when the paintings were sold.

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

1. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne ($259 million)
The Card Players was sold in 2011. It is a series of oil paintings by Paul Cezanne, a French post-Impressionist artist. The paintings show peasants in Provencal smoking pipes and playing cards, eyes cast downward, serious on the game at hand.

2. No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock ($140 million)
The 8′ by 4′ painting by American artist Jackson Pollock shows his “drip” technique, drizzling brown and yellow paint over the fiberboard to create a nest-like appearance. This was done at the height of the Abstract Expressionist Movement.

3. Woman III by Willem de Kooning ($137.5 million)
Woman III is one of a series of size paintings by Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. The painting is of a woman, and measures 68′ by 48 1/2′. Displayed at the Tehran Museum of Art from late 70s to 1994, it was then traded to David Geffen in exchange for the remainder of the 16th century manuscript called the Tahmasbi Shahnameh.

4. Le Rêve by Pablo Picasso ($155 million)
Le Rêve is a painting by Pablo Picasso in 1932 depicting his young mistress. The painting was done during the time when Picasso painted distorted depictions using oversimplified outlines and bold colors.

5. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt ($135 million)
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is a painting by Gustav Klimt in 1907 that took three years to complete. Klimt was commissioned by a wealthy industrialist to paint the portrait and he used oil and gold on canvas that measured 54″ x 54″.

6. Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh ($82.5 million)
This 1890 painting of the revered artist Vincent van Gogh portrays Dr. Paul Gachet who took care of the painter during the months before his death. The painting shows the doctor leaning his head on his elbow on a red table. Two authenticated versions are available of the portrait and the first version was sold at an auction in New York.

7. Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir ($78.1 million)
Bal du moulin de la Galette is the painting commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette done by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1876. It is one of the most famous masterpieces during the Impressionist movement. It portrays a typical Sunday afternoon in Paris where Parisians would dress up and relax at the Moulin de la Galette.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

8. Garçon à la pipe by Pablo Picasso ($104.2 million)
Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is a 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso which portrays a Parisian boy holding a pipe while wearing a wreath of flowers on his head.

9. The Scream by Edvard Munch ($119.9 million)
The Scream is created by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch between 1893 to 1910. The painting shows a figure with an agonized expression. There are four versions of The Scream using several mediums such as oil and pastels.

10. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust by Pablo Picasso ($106.4 million)
Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso. It is one of a series of paintings depicting his mistress.