How To Restore Oil Paintings
Oil on canvas is one of the most commonly used combinations when creating art. Linen and cotton canvases are each suitable for different styles of art styles. Some of the most famous paintings and artists use oil as their preferred medium for the level of opacity and unrivalled texture effects they can achieve.
In Europe, the earliest record of using oil as a painting medium dates back to the 11th Century. However, using oil colours on easel painting stems directly from 15th Century Tempera painting techniques. Initially, oil paints and varnishes were used to glaze tempera panels. They were painted with traditional linear techniques. A famous example is the brilliant, jewel-like portraits of Flemish painter Jan van Eyck.
Oil paint is unique in the fact that it's the only medium to dry by oxidation. All other popular mediums such as Tempera, Acrylic or Gouache dries by evaporation. The oil reacts chemically with oxygen in the air and gradually hardens into a gel, then finally solid. This unique property means the texture quality can be manipulated to maximise the impressions of the painting.
Advantages of Oil Paint
The flexibility and depth of colour are one of the main reasons it's one of the most popular painting mediums. The various application methods range from from thin, dilute glazes to dense impasto.
It allows the artist to portray a range of effects and textures. Because it's slow to dry, it offers the artist more time to work on the paint than other mediums. This provides a greater opportunity for blending and layering colours. The natural material is more durable and tends to age better than water-based paintings.
Why Restore an Oil Painting?
While oil painting offers a wide spectrum of experimentation, once the painting has dried and aged it can cause problems for restorers centuries later. It can contribute to the deterioration of the original paintwork and irreversible damages.
As an example, bitumen was used as a glaze to create an amber glow in paintings. However later on as the material deteriorated it formed lumps and cavities on the painting surface. Chrome yellow, one of Vincent Van Gogh's favourite shades, eventually resulted in the fading of the vibrancy of the painting. In some cases, the colours have disappeared entirely.
Oil Painting Restorer
Alyson specialise in restoring your fine art. Contact our oil painting restorer in London if you want to restore your favourite work of art.