Painting is, above all, a creative art. It gives people the space to express their feelings, create beauty, or fill their free time. In any case, painting is an art form that requires a lot of years of work and discipline.

Just knowing only the different painting techniques won't make you a great artist or one of the best artists in the world. You need a lot of practice to see progress and develop your style or professional arts over the years.

In this article, we shall discuss the different painting techniques you will encounter in your painting classes in Nigeria that works and would give your paintings or visual artwork some life.

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The Oil Painting Technique

art work
Some of the world's famous paintings were made using the oil paint technique || Image Source: Unsplash

Oil paint may seem old-fashioned, but it is still considered one of the best painting techniques. It emerged in the west towards the end of the Middle Ages and came about via the egg tempera technique. Afterwards, painters around the world including those in Africa and even Nigeria modernized the glaze layers to become more of a paste technique.

Classical painters such as Vermeer, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and Ben Enwonwu loved this painting method and used it to create their world-famous works or paintings.

All over the world today, including Africa and Nigeria to be precise, the oil painting technique is still quite popular among professional artists and visual art enthusiasts.

Have you ever been to an art exhibition or visited a Nigerian museum or gallery?

There are several art galleries spread across the country including the National Gallery of Modern Arts, Lagos, that are home to paintings and visual arts by notable Nigerian artists such as Ben Enwonwu, Aina Onabolu, Tayo Adenaike, etc. Some of these paintings were done using the oil painting technique.

A lot of the great masterpieces on exhibition at the art gallery depicts the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria and the African culture in general. Some visual artworks by Nigerians are also found at British galleries such as the National Gallery, London.

You can learn to paint like the great masters online via Superprof.

What Do You Know About Oil Painting?

Oil paint is the type of paint mainly used to create pictures and other visual arts. This paint is made by mixing pigments and using oil as a binder. It is a paste that can vary from thick to liquid.

How to Thin Oil Paint

Oil paint is thicker and more slippery than water-based paint. It takes quite a long time to dry between coats. A little preparation is required so that the primary and other colours remain vibrant, bright and do not age.

It is therefore essential to prepare the background for colour with the first layer of heavily diluted paint. As a result, subsequent layers will adhere better.

You have two options for this:

  • Dilute the oil paint with turpentine to make it very liquid.
  • Paint the first coat with acrylic paint. This has the advantage that it dries very quickly.

How to Paint With Oil Paint

The main rule to keep in mind when working with oil paint is the 'thick on thin' rule: each new layer should be thicker than the previous one. In addition, the layers must also be adapted to what their oil content is: 'fat over lean'.

If you don't follow this rule, you'll likely see the paint crack as it dries.

How do you prevent this?

  • Dilute the first layer with mainly white spirit, a lean solvent
  • Add a little less turpentine and a little more linseed oil with each new layer
  • Dilute the last layer only with linseed oil

Thinner layers are better because:

  • They make your still life or portrait artwork dry faster
  • They are transparent and make your paintings shine
  • They change the structure of the painting or visual artwork
  • They make the painting or visual artwork more resistant to damage

Caution: Do not mix the solvent directly on the painting. Dip your brush in the colour and then in the solvent before mixing on your palette in circular motions.

Other Oil Painting Techniques

By taking a private painting lesson, you can learn all you need to know to apply oil painting techniques and perfect your style:

  • Apply a glaze: This thin layer of transparent paint makes the shades brighter and more profound.
  • Learn to paint and draw 'alla prima': this wet-on-wet technique makes it possible to draw a canvas faster. It does need a lot of professional experience!
  • Apply blur: which helps to avoid sharp lines
  • Use impasto: apply paint thickly to show the impression of the brush or the painter's knife, giving the painting or visual artwork some relief.
  • Scratch in the colour layers revealing different underlayers. This is very useful for adjusting parts of the painting visual artwork.

Working With Acrylic Paint

acrylic painting
Most contemporary painters prefer the acrylic painting technique || Image Source: Pexels

Acrylic paint is very popular with DIY enthusiasts these days. It is odourless and can be diluted with water so that brushes stay clean and the paintwork dries quickly. Painters did not use acrylic paint until the 1930s. Artists such as Andy Warhol and David Hockney immediately applied it to create realistic pop art and trompe-l'oeil masterpieces.

The acrylic painting technique was also used in some of the paintings by the renowned Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu. These works of art can be found at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos, Nigeria. 

As one of the most influential African artists of the 20th century, Enwonwu was not only known for paintings but also for sculptures that have been on exhibition at several locations around the world including the British Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.

Take a painting course via Superprof.

What Does Painting with Acrylic Paint Mean?

Acrylic paint consists of traditional pigments mixed with artificial resins. Unlike oil paint, the binder is a water emulsion of these resins. The result is very similar to oil paint but way much easier to use!

How to Use Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is highly versatile and a valued type of paint. You can thin it quite a bit so that it almost looks like watercolour. It can also be used undiluted, making it very similar to oil paint. Here are a few steps to follow when painting flowers or any other subject:

  • Choose your topic.
  • Follow the rules of composition: the rule of thirds, just like in photography. Draw three horizontal and three vertical lines and place essential elements in the image along these lines. Choose the size of your painting: portrait for intimacy, the landscape for a spacious feel and the square to draw the eye to the centre.
  • Painting and sketching are closely related. We recommend painting the main elements with soft pencil, charcoal or acrylic paint straight away.
  • Choose a coloured background. It is not necessary, but it can help to unite the colours. All you have to do is place a highly diluted coat of paint in the main shade of your subject. When applied in horizontal bands, it creates a seamless background. When applied a bit carelessly, it gives the impression of a moving background.
  • Mix the colours on a painter's palette and apply the paint in thin layers, from the lightest to the darkest
  • After you have allowed the paint layers to dry well, one by one, add the details. This prevents leaking and dripping. You can now also experiment by adding volume or making the colours a bit stronger.

Tip: To get a lighter colour, it is better to add only water. White paint makes the paint darker and less bright.

Find a painting course through Superprof.

Setting Up a Painting on Canvas

We've talked enough about paper by now. It's now time to learn a different painting technique. You need materials like a canvas to become a painter. It is important to practice a lot on it to get a feel of what it's like to paint on canvas.

What does Painting on Canvas mean?

Painting on canvas involves using stretched canvas as a substrate. This is the most common method today. History has it that canvas replaced wood that dominated painting as a background until the Middle Ages. It is made from linen or cotton in Europe and silk in the Far East.

You can choose between an absorbent or a water-repellent cloth. The first absorbs the colours, revealing the roughness of the canvas and creating a particular effect. You can mix the colour more efficiently on a water-resistant cloth.

Preparing Your Canvas

lady painting
Painting is a visual dance of the imagination || Image Source: Pexels

Although artists such as Jackson Pollock, Kenneth Noland, Ben Enwonwu and Francis Bacon sometimes painted on 'rough' canvas, i.e. uncoated, we would not recommend it. This is mainly because you want your painting to stand the test of time longer.

How do I prepare my canvas? It doesn't matter whether you use watercolour or oil paint. In both cases, you should prepare your canvas as follows:

  • Use glue to make it water-resistant and more sturdy. Use a flat brush and glue both sides of the cloth. As a result, the binding agent adheres through the cloth. Let it dry thoroughly between coats. The result should be a smooth surface that reflects the light.
  • Cover the glue with white paint. This is not necessary, but it will make the painting brighter. After applying a coat of paint, let the canvas dry and then sand it with sandpaper.
  • Add gesso primer. This adds a bit of structure to the canvas so that the paint adheres better.

After you have done all this, you can stretch the canvas onto a frame. This is a delicate work that a novice often needs professional help with.

Tip: Nowadays, you can also buy ready-made frames with pre-stretched canvas in the art store.

Sign up for a painting workshop via Superprof.

How to Paint on the Canvas

First, choose your subject and then determine a focal point for your painting. Please stay away from the centre, that makes it much more exciting. Sketch the painting with extra thick pencil, especially the main parts. Apply the colours from the lightest to the darkest, gradually working your way down from the top of the cloth. Also, keep the paint strokes in the same direction.

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Emmanuel

Content Writer and budding Python Developer. I'm adept at a myriad of niches, but my expertise shines more in the medical sciences, tech, and business. I have a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and I'm currently a full-time freelance writer. When I'm not working, I'm probably absorbed in some television adventure series or a good book.