Oil Painting Techniques:

Avoid Over Blending

What is Over Blending?


Over blending is what occurs when you mix your paint too much on your canvas. When you over blend you create problems within your work.

How do I avoid over blending?

I usually avoid too much blending in order to create more interesting brushwork and to create a more interesting color harmony. If you over blend, you create two problems:


1. The first is that you lose your brushstrokes and so the surface of the painting is less interesting. Now that is not necessarily a problem, because you can create very beautiful work with a highly blended surface. But a highly blended painting has to compensate for its lack of interesting brushwork in other ways, or it becomes too photographic and not interesting.


2. The second reason is that you lose the harmony between color patches. This is a difficult concept to understand, but basically its like destroying the keys of a piano, and adding thousands of extra keys all of which are slightly out of tune.

In practice

In this sunset painting, you can see how the color variations in the sunset have been left as individual brushstrokes, each with a definite color. They have not been completely blended. There is a relationship between the different colors of the various brushstrokes. The secret is to make those patches of colors harmonious. You usually do this by blending on the palette (not the canvas!).


See the finished painting below.

In this painting, “Italy Pianello” (Cat. No. 1039  - Oil on Linen), you can see the same principle at work.

Note: To learn more about how you can use brushwork to describe forms and texture, see the Brushwork lessons in Workshop G of the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program.

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