Virtual Art Academy
Snow Falls in Pianello

Using Thick Oil Paint to Enhance Light Areas

Snow Falls in Pianello

Cat. No. 1126 Snow Falls in Pianello – 23cm x 30.5cm – Oil on Board

When using oils, paint your darks using thin oil paint and your lights using thick oil paint (referred to as “impasto”). This enhances the quality of light in your paintings.

In general you will put the darker background using thin oil paint layers down first, and then in later stages of painting add the lighter foreground areas with thick oil paint.

By painting the darks with thin oil paint you get three benefits:

  • You prevent light bouncing off ridges of paint and destroying the dark effect when the painting is viewed.
  • It prevents the viewer’s attention getting attracted to passages of the painting that you may want to keep in the background.
  • You can layer transparent strokes of different hues on top of each other and achieve a natural looking warm cool contrast. The transparency effect gives the impression of a luminous, transparent shadow.

By painting the lights with thick oil paint you:

  • enhance the light effect by letting light bounce off the ridges of the thick oil paint brushstrokes when the painting is viewed.
  • may attract the viewer to more interesting light sections of your painting.

To learn more about using thick oil paint and other brushwork techniques

To learn more about how you can use thick oil paint and brushwork to enhance the quality of your painting, see the Brushwork lessons in our year-two online painting class. Workshop F of the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program.

Note: You can also use acrylic paints for this technique if you add a gel medium to thicken the paint, so that it retains your brushstrokes. 

Comments from Barry’s Virtual Art Academy students

‘Ladder of Learning’ adds to overall positive experience of this awesome course

'Ladder of Learning' adds to overall positive experience of this awesome course 1

The VAA course is built on four main building blocks including PROCESS, REALISM, MUSIC AND POETRY. These are further divided into topics that are continuously developed throughout the curriculum. Drawing, Form, Observation, Colour, Brushwork, Notan, Composition and Poetry are all thoroughly taught. Working on-line we meet students from all around the world, interacting with them regularly in a process we call the ‘Ladder of Learning’. We help each other regularly as we proceed and this adds to the overall positive experience of this awesome course.

Marlene Gardner

Comments from Barry's Virtual Art Academy students

The most comprehensive art instruction I could find anywhere online, and trust me, I had been looking for a long time.

The most comprehensive art instruction I could find anywhere online, and trust me, I had been looking for a long time. 2

I joined 2 years ago with my daughter. We have both learnt so much and have enjoyed our VAA time together. My daughter is now 13 and already produces amazing paintings.
The Virtual Art Academy is simply the most comprehensive art instruction I could find anywhere online, and trust me, I had been looking for a long time.
Even art schools and academies I’ve been exposed to are nowhere near as thorough, VAA is just amazing!
Most paintings I see where the artist clearly has some skill still lack in either the values or notan department, or fall down on composition – it’s baffling that VAA seems to be the only program that goes into detail on this. Therefore, if you are new to painting or an experienced artist, studying with VAA will get you to that next step.
I also find that Barry is always interested in what we students do and is at hand with great advice. Worth every penny, Thank you Barry!!

Marlene Lento
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