The development of oil painting techniques
The development of oil painting techniques is closely linked to the evolution of Western painting. Usually this development, presented in chronological order, goes from Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Classic, New Classical, to Romance, Impressive, Post-Impressive, Modern, Post-Modern. Brian Thomas’s book “Vision and tecniques in European painting” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1952) examined the development of oil painting techniques on four aspects: lines, shaping, chroma, and color. I mention that book because when I was preparing to speak, painter Le Huy Tiep complained to me about a number of articles about oil painting techniques published in the recent Fine Arts Magazine.
That translation, unfortunately, made many common mistakes, both in English and Vietnamese, not to mention professional terms. In addition, the original itself also made a number of errors in the history of painting when identifying many painters. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to remind young people that it is not easy to believe in anything without proof, and it is best to verify with your own research and thought.
It is impossible to separate the evolution of lines, hue, and color. However, it can be said that the drawing techniques and many layers of Flemish painters have been greatly developed. Thanks to that, the world in paintings has become more and more like real and human. Below I present only the most representative representatives to illustrate the development of oil painting techniques. Most of the paintings that I have chosen have seen the original.
Caravaggio opened baroque painting with an amazingly realistic drawing style, turning light and shadow (chiaroscuro) into a defining technique, creating tragedy and secret in painting (tenebrism) [tenebra (Italian) = darkness]. He painted very quickly, always from the real sample, never drew a prepared image, but always drew a brush on the canvas with a brush. Many contemporary young painters imitate Caravaggio. They are called caravaggisti or tenebrosi. Caravaggio had a great influence on the whole of the painting behind him with Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velasquez, Georges de La Tour, Delacroix, Courbet, and Manet.
Jan Vermeer is a special case of baroque painting, the forerunner of impressive and modern painting . I will return to Vermeer in part IV-1.
Reynolds has a knack for using décor, dithering, and richness. His use of pure colors paved the way for Constable and later French painters. However, his experiments with oil painting techniques were largely unsuccessful and he was notorious for being an outstanding painter but ignorant of materials. His paintings are cracked a lot.
By the 19th century, artists gradually sacrificed the accuracy of lines and shades. They set harmony (harmony) as a goal, and achieve that goal by balancing in dithering, hot color, cool color, strong intensity with weak intensity. Dark interior paintings gradually make way for bright landscape paintings. Turner can be considered a pioneer for this movement.
Constable, Pre-Raphaelites, Corot, Courbet, Manet, impressionist and post-impressionist painters. It can be said that, with his landscape paintings, such as “The shallow water on Calais beach”, Turner is only the creator of impressive style, nearly four decades before Claude Monet.
By the beginning of the 20th century, it seemed that the development of oil painting techniques was over. Modern artists no longer follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, considering doing so as trivial, lacking in personality (derivative), as secondary. Technically oil painting, there’s really not much to learn here, except the tendency to revive the techniques of classical masters like those in Salvador Dalí, the work of a few artists. belongs to fauvism (beast)  like Georges Rouault – pushes impasto to the maximum thickness – or photorealism (eg Richard Estes).