|Oil painting has been a widespread painting medium since the Dutch developed it in the fourteenth century. Although oil painting appears complicated, once you know the process its not as daunting as it may seem. Simply put, one needs only the paint, a solvent, a surface and an assortment of brushes.
Oil paints are made from pigments ground with a binder and are categorized into artist quality and student grade. Artist quality oils contain a higher grade pigment while student grade oils contain less, and are therefore less expensive.
Pigments can be organic or inorganic: they can also be natural or synthetic. Organic pigments are carbon based, and they were originally extracted from plant or animal matter. Organic pigments are usually transparent. Inorganic pigments such as cadmiums, cobalt and earth colors are non-carbon. These are derived mostly from metals. They tend to be opaque, with low value, low chroma and high opacity and they are chemically stable. As the name applies, a natural pigment is one that occurs in nature. These are the least costly to produce, and they can be either organic or inorganic.
Most pigments today are synthetic. Synthetic pigments have been formulated to create new colors or replace expensive, fugitive, toxic or natural pigments from antiquity. They mimic the effects of natural pigments, and can be organic or inorganic. Even though different manufacturers sell the same colors, they are not necessarily equal in hue or quality. It is always a good idea to test different brands until you find your favorite. Higher quality oil paint are worth their initial investment because a little amount goes a long way. When purchasing paint try to include a warm and a cool of each color.