Oil paint consists of pigment mixed with an oil medium, usually linseed, and can be diluted with spirits. Because of its versatility, flexibility and rich and dense colour, oil has become the most popular painting medium for important works since the sixteenth century. It dries slowly, rather than sets, and can be painted over to create a great variety of effects from enamel smoothness to violent impasto. Both minute detail and subtle blending of tones can be achieved in a way no other painting technique can rival, the closest being acrylic.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
after William Scrots
circa 1570-1580s, based on a work of 1546
associated with John Taylor
Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel
by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Coventry Kersey Deighton Patmore
by John Singer Sargent
by Ruskin Spear
by John Keane
Lindsay Quartet (Peter Cropper; Ronald Birks; Robin Ireland; Bernard Gregor-Smith)
by György Gordon
by David Cobley
by Darvish Fakhr
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Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.
Hold Still photography workshop
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Draw Like a Renaissance Master
Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.