Creating Impastos in Oil Painting

Adding Impasto Effects to Oil Paint

The simplest way to create an impasto surface is to apply large amounts of paint, usually with a brush or palette knife. Commercial oil colors have a heavy consistency, which can be achieved by working directly from the tube and applying the colors in thick layers. Opacity and built-up texture are usually interrelated, with much of the thickest impasto consisting of solid and opaque pigments, such as lead white or titanium white. Passages of thickly applied paint can also be translucent, so extender pigments are chosen that supply both bulk and transparency.

As technical director of Natural Pigments, I spent many hours examining the impastos of such old masters as Rembrandt and Velázquez to understand the various textures they employed in their paintings. The advantage they have over artists today is that they handmade their paint, so they can arrive at an endless variety of effects by tailoring the ingredients in the paint to provide the proper consistency. Not allowing this to become a disadvantage today, I sought to develop oil paint with various behavior and painting amendments that artists today can use to change this behavior.

George O'Hanlon, Technical Director

 


More Resources on Impasto Painting

  • The Best Mediums for Impasto and Glazing are Paste Mediums. Here's Why.
    The Best Mediums for Impasto and Glazing are Paste Mediums. Here's Why.

    This guide examines oil painting mediums made by Natural Pigments. These paint mediums are designed to alter the consistency of oil paint in novel ways, different from the varnishes that were in common use since the nineteenth century and alkyd mediums today. Painting mediums change the handling properties of paint, such as flow out and leveling; increase or decrease tackiness and drag; hasten or retard drying time, increase or decrease gloss; increase transparency, and other physical properties of oil paint...

    Read more »
  • Creating Impastos in Oil Paintings
    Creating Impastos in Oil Paintings

    The simplest way to create an impasto surface is to apply large amounts of paint, usually with a brush or palette knife. Commercial oil colors have a heavy consistency, which can be achieved by working directly from the tube and applying the colors in thick layers. Opacity and built-up texture are usually interrelated, with much of the thickest impasto consisting of solid and opaque pigments, such as lead white or titanium white. Passages of thickly applied paint can also be translucent, so extender pigments are chosen that supply both bulk and transparency...

    Read more »
  • The Impasto Technique of Rembrandt
    The Impasto Technique of Rembrandt

    Impasto is paint laid on a canvas or panel in quantities that make it stand out from the surface and is usually thick enough that brush or palette knife strokes are visible. The first known use of the word was in 1784, from the Italian impasto, the noun of the verb impastare, “to put in paste.” The heavy viscosity and slow drying time of oil paint make it a suitable medium for the impasto painting technique. Watercolor and tempera paint are not satisfactory for this technique because they lack these properties and do not form continuous films surrounding pigment particles...

    Read more »
  • Using Velazquez Medium in the Portrait "Poppet"
    Using Velazquez Medium in the Portrait "Poppet"

    Katherine Stone, an artist, living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, uses a palette based primarily on earth colors from Rublev Colours Artists Oils and other Rublev Colours oil painting mediums, such as Velazquez Medium. In this article, she discusses her technique in the portrait painting Poppet, one of the finalists in the 2015 Portrait Society of America competition...

    Read more »
  • Mediums for Oil Painters
    Mediums for Oil Painters

    To painters, discussing mediums can be like a political debate. There are pro-Maroger, anti-Maroger, pro-natural resins, and anti-natural resins, as well as pro-alkyd and anti-alkyd proponents. The disputes are always about potential cracking, lack of adhesion, and yellowing. I have always been the curious type and have experimented with almost every medium that I could get my hands on. However, if you are new to painting, the best approach is to experiment with the paint right out of the tube so that you can understand and fully integrate into your procedure what the paint can do without additives...

    Read more »
  • Guide to Oil Painting Mediums—Selecting One That's Best For Your Painting
    Oil Painting Mediums—Selecting One That's Best For Your Painting

    Oil paint is a slow-drying paint consisting of pigment particles suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by adding a solvent, such as turpentine or mineral spirits (white spirits), and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried film. In this article, you will find complete descriptions of oil painting mediums or additives (or, as we prefer to call them, "amendments") made by Natural Pigments. These amendments are designed to alter the consistency of oil paint in novel ways, different from the varnishes introduced into everyday use during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...

    Read more »

Rublev Colours Impasto Mediums

  1. Velazquez Medium
    Velazquez Medium
    As low as $10.50
    - +
  2. Impasto Medium
    Impasto Medium
    As low as $10.50
    - +
  3. Impasto Putty
    Impasto Putty
    As low as $26.10
    - +
  4. Underpainting Transparent Base
    Underpainting Transparent Base
    As low as $14.90
    - +

Save on Impasto Bundles

Order this bundle and save up to 20% off!
Rublev Colours Oleogel Oil Painting Medium (50 ml)
20%
$11.60
+
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Save $6.52
$26.08

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best thickener for oil paint?

Common thickeners for oil paint include cold wax, impasto mediums, and heavy gel mediums. The best choice is those that contain solid pigment particles, also known as extender pigments or fillers. These are impasto or paste mediums and do not add large amounts of oil or resins that can lead to yellowing and are more stable than gel or cold wax mediums.

How long does it take for impasto oil paint to dry?

The drying time for impasto oil paint can vary greatly, from a few days to weeks, depending on the thickness of the paint and environmental conditions. The drying time is also dependent upon the amount of oil used in the medium or paint.

What is the best thickener for oil paint?

Common thickeners for oil paint include cold wax, impasto mediums, and various gels. The best thickeners for oil paint are extender pigments, also known as fillers. These include chalk, marble dust, barite (baryte), talc, etc.


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