The Versatility of Oil Paint

Paint is an exceptionally versatile medium; it can be used to depict wholly representative images, expressive works and even more illustrative work. Of course, there are many different paint mediums from oil, to watercolour and, acrylics; each has its own individual aesthetic qualities that affect the overall composition and, feel of the finished work.

In this article we’re going to look at representative and expressive oil paintings to see how this medium has been used in completely different ways to achieve such contrasting images.


Stephen Rose – Lobster Frigidor

Still life paintings are one of the best examples of representative art and how paint can be used in a wholly realistic way; for example take a look at Stephen Rose’s Lobster Frigidor which we have mentioned briefly before in our blog where we discussed food and drink in still life. The painting itself is a beautiful representation of realistic art.

The strokes used to create this painting are so smooth and delicate that they are difficult to notice. The lobster sits upon the foil awaiting its fate. The foil is so well depicted that as the viewer it feels like you can reach out and touch it. Each crease has been detailed which adds a 3 dimensional and reflective quality to the work that contrasts with the shadowy background and dark shell of the lobster.


Vanessa Garwood – Spain: Shadows & Trees

For a more expressive use of oil paint, we will take a look at Vanessa Garwood’s landscape paintings. This artist creates much more expressive paintings; they aren’t wholly abstract, but they are certainly not created to be wholly representational. Garwood’s paintings especially the above painting; Spain: Shadows & Trees are created with an expressive energy together with a complex composition. This painting aptly represents the qualities of wood; portraying the layered aspects of the natural forest floor which loosely painted strokes and vibrant colours.

Both of these paintings are created with oil paint (one on board one on canvas); however they embody completely different aesthetic qualities; Rose favours a more realistic style whereas Garwood, presents us with a more energetic and expressive collection. Both offer the viewer different experiences. By simply just taking a look at these two modern artists it is easy to see how versatile oil paint is and how it affects the overall aesthetic.

Boundaries are forever being pushed by today’s artist; there really isn’t a media that hasn’t been considered for use in visual art, however paint is still one of the most revered and important mediums in the industry. Whether the imagery that is created is expressive or representative, nobody can deny the power of a painting.

About Mark Mitchell

Dealers in 19th-20th Century British and Continental Works of Art
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