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. 

What Our Students Are Saying About The Virtual Art Academy

The most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available online

After a thorough research, my personal conclusion is that the Virtual Art Academy (VAA) is, by wide margin, the most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available in the internet. Unlike most tutorials and color mixing recipes commonly found online, VAA’s philosophy is rather to provide the students with detailed information about all aspects of painting – color theory, brushwork, drawing, composition, techniques, materials – in an organized manner, in a way to allow for short-term improvements while optimizing the learning curve throughout the course. And, while the VAA curriculum, by itself, is already among the most valuable literature about art one can find (both online or offline) – for its depth and comprehensiveness –, the online platform adds a lot more to the learning experience, since the exchange in information and experience with other students is of immense help. Finally, what is most unique about the VAA, in my opinion, is that its creator Barry J. Raybould not only has a successful career as an artist himself – with an economic style and distinguished understanding of color – but he was also able to distill his own knowledge and experience into an accessible and effective method (as can be proven by the works of some of his earlier students). If you are serious about learning art and (as was my case) can’t enroll formal art schools, I would say there’s zero chance you will regret joining the VAA. In fact, I truly believe that, in the centuries to come, people will still learn to paint through Barry’s method.

Bruno Villela