Artists' Oilbar: One Year On


graham giles tiber bridge

In 2011, Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbar received a makeover; a professional quality oil colour in stick form, Artists' Oilbar enables painting and drawing freely and directly onto surfaces. The extended range of fifty colours is fully compatible with Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour and mediums.

‘Oil paint fashioned into sticks is a brilliant idea, and like so many brilliant ideas it came originally from Picasso, who wanted to draw directly on to canvas with oil paint. Artists’ Oilbars have a soft texture which makes handling them very agreeable; they are completely compatible with oil paint because they are oil paint and they can be used on their own or in conjunction with Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour from tubes, which is mostly how I use them.’ Graham Giles, a Suffolk-based landscape painter and authority on artists’ materials, is one of a growing number of artists regularly using Artists’ Oilbars in their oil painting.

Artist Graham Giles 

‘You can draw with Oilbar, which is a very different sensation from using a brush loaded with paint. Drawing is a very basic instinct from early childhood, like using gestures in conversation with hands and arms to emphasise the meaning of words. Drawing has been fundamental for painters throughout the history of art, in graphic media and also, crucially, in painting. Matisse, El Greco, Rubens, Monet, Francis Bacon and Tintoretto are among many artists who “drew” with paint through all the stages and changes of their pictures. Van Gogh added wax to his oil paint to get the texture he wanted, enabling him to ‘draw’ with paint in the thick ridges that are so characteristic of his work, effects very similar to those achievable with Artists’ Oilbar.

Although the composition of a painting is often decided at the outset with a drawing made on canvas in pencil or charcoal, this can all too easily become a rigid framework - like painting by numbers – which is then filled in with paint. Focus moves to the relationships of colours and tones, handling, transparency or opacity, thickness, texture and a thousand other considerations. The essential need for the composition – or drawing - to evolve and develop can get lost, or prove too difficult to achieve. When I need to clarify or re-invigorate a painting, having paint in stick form like Artists’ Oilbar is ideal, because I can draw directly into the wet paint - which works really well – and gets back to the essential idea; in my painting “Tiber Bridge”, I endlessly drew and re-drew the shapes of the two arches and parapet of the bridge.'
 Tiber Bridge
'Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbar can be particularly useful working outdoors in the landscape. Outdoor painting equipment can take a while to set up – by which time the sun has gone!  Using Oilbar is very direct; it’s just a matter of getting these out of the box and starting work; ideal for making quick studies when everything is changing rapidly, for instance, when painting the sunset. A bonus is that when you finish, and discover that it has become almost too dark to see, you can slip the Oilbars back in their box - and not have to wash your brushes, clean up your palette and pack up in the dark, leaving your palette knife unseen in the grass!

With Artists’ Oilbar, as with any medium, the challenge is to use its full potential, to be imaginative and experimental, and to relish their distinctive qualities.  The graffiti-like marks Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbar makes on rough surfaces are very suggestive and full of promise. They work well on any surface suitable for oil paint, for instance primed boards, primed paper or canvas, although it is not advisable to use Oilbar directly on to unprimed canvas as the linseed oil content will eventually cause erosion.

Professional grade pigments are used in the formulation of Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbar; as with traditional oil colour, the individual pigments retain their distinctive personalities and the colourless stick is very useful as a medium and for glazing directly over colours.

Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbars are a truly valuable tool when working in oils, and the extended range makes them even more desirable to use both on their own and in conjunction with Artist’s Oil Colours. I strongly recommend them.'
 Diana Taylor, Fall, 2012,
oil, vinyl and needlework on linen, 180x140cm

Screen printing, inks, sewing and Artists’ Oilbar are all part of Diana Taylor’s mixed-media approach to painting. Completing a post-graduate at the Slade in 2010, Diana is about to take up a residency at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Mallorca.

‘Artists’ Oilbar retains the immediacy of drawing, something that is difficult to achieve with a brush. There is lots of drawing in my work, linear elements for which Oilbar is very useful. It is a different way of handling and applying colour, very direct and immediate.

I enjoy working into areas of Artists’ Oilbar with a brush because there are interesting contrasts that occur, the marks have rough, immediate edges and I can work against these and brush them out with linseed oil. I enjoy the particular, flat quality it has once applied and it seems to dries quite quickly.’

Casino dice and playing cards form the subject of Kate Brinkworth’s highly finished oil paintings. Kate arrived at this polished language of paint through a process of rough, expressive painting, often using Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oilbar which she uses for preparatory work and in classes.

‘Oilbar has an intense colour; it’s like squeezing tube paint directly onto canvas. Having paint that thick means you can cut back into it with different tools. I use sticks to draw back into the paint and fingers to smooth it out. It’s really good for getting texture and, because Artists’ Oilbar is quite big and chunky, it forces you to be direct and immediate.’

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