Art Essay Sample: Painting Techniques During the Renaissance of Art

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1389 Words
Date:  2021-03-25

In the beginning of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, most of Europe saw a change in the way art was considered and done. Most artists were not valued before this period simply because the paintings and sculptures were of less appeal. However in the late fourteenth century the view of artists changed, not just in the way they painted but also how they wanted the paintings to appeal to ordinary folk. They started considering paintings and sculptures that had emotional appeal, real life activities, religious appeal and the Greek and Roman mythology. In this view artists had to develop new ways that would make their paintings more beautiful and valued in order to capture all these aspects. With this, the view of artists and sculptors changed and they started being considered educated. In this research, the different techniques used by artists during this period will be discussed and elaborated.

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One of the major changes during the art renaissance was to pint pictures as they appeared. Artists made an effort to capture the activities of the daily life in such a way that any individual looking at them would be convinced that it is a real picture of what happened. This made the paintings more appealing to individuals (Ducksters, 2016). Furthermore this was greatly advanced by the desire for portraits and real life paintings by influential families such as the Medici family of Florence and the Catholic Church.

In order to enhance the realistic nature of paintings, most artists used perspective painting. This enabled the painting to have a three dimensional view. Something that the natural eye sees in everyday activities. With this type of drawing, the sizes of objects in the painting decreased in size with change in the background. This showed that the objects were not close together but at a distance from one to the next. This is a real life view of what the human eye sees (Brett & McKay, 2010).

The balance inproportion of objects was also an important aspect during this time. The paintings had to look just as proportional as they would in real life. As a result the artists tried to ensure that the various parts of their paintings would not look exaggerated. The use of light in paintings was a big invention. This enabled the artists to show the areas that were facing illumination that those that were on the shadow side of the light source. This form of painting enabled shadows to be shown and the details would be more vivid to the observer of the painting (Brett & McKay, 2010).

Despite these painting methods, the use of paint was also a big advancement. How the paint looked in the final piece of the art was such a great influence on the quality of the painting. As a result several artists developed different ways of using paint to give the best finish in their paintings. The three main common methods that were widely used during this period include: fresco, egg tempera and oil painting. Other methods include the sfumato commonly used by Leonardo in the Mona Lisa (Finnan, 2016).

The fresco technique had three different styles that were commonly used. Buon fresco, secco fresco and mezzo fresco. The buon fresco was also known as true fresco. This style was commonly used in wall paintings which were becoming more popular. The artists splashed the wall with plaster and made a sketch of what was to be painted using a red pigment, sinopia. The paint was then applied on the wet plaster and allowed to dry. However with this method the artist had very few hours to complete their work roughly 8 to 9 hours. This was due to the limited time of drying of the plaster. As a result any mistakes that would be made meant that the entire work would have to be removed and redone again from beginning. The difference between a daysworks could be easily noticed if the painting was done in several days.

The second style, secco fresco, was used on completely dry plaster. Egg was used to apply the sinopia. This meant that the paint would also not be absorbed into the plaster and could easily be removed in case mistakes were made. Secco fresco was much faster than the buon fresco, however the paint was not permanent. Secco fresco was commonly used in conjunction with buon fresco in order to nullify the difference in different days works in buon fresco paintings. The Giotto adoration the Mangi is a perfect example that used both buon and secco fresco painting techniques (Finnan, 2016).

Finally the mezzo fresco was done on almost dry plaster. This meant that the painting would retain its color quality as opposed to buon fresco where the color difference could be noticed. Generally when painters used the fresco painting styles, they had to paint using different ways. The common one being from top to bottom in order to avoid spoiling a previous completed section of the painting by splashing paint on it. Also the use of sinopia could not allow for rectification hence they made sketches on paper and made holes along the outlines of the sketch. These sketches were then held against the surface and splashed with soot in order to make an overview of what was to be painted. This enabled easier rectification of mistakes.

The egg tempera was another technique used. This style displayed a mastery of all materials used as the painting was done on a wood panel that had several materials attached to its surface. The artists that used this technique often showed strict mastery and meticulous painting technique as the paint had different effects and was fast drying. The outline was done using the pouncing technique on the panel. The paint was then applied in thin layers. This method meant that the paint was more permanent and retained their color quality after a long period as opposed to the oil painting. However the tempera paintings could not attain the depth of color finish like in the oil painting technique. A Knights Dream by Raphael is a good example of a tempera painting (National Gallery, 2016).

The short comings of the two painting techniques were catered for by the oil painting technique. This allowed the artist to change the composition of their paintings. Furthermore any mistakes could be easily rectified with oil painting. The use of oil always enhanced the saturation of the color of any paint. This gave a more detailed and appealing finish. This method was first used by the painters from northern Europe. The use of oak panels, white chalk surfaces and other timbers were their preferred surfaces. However when the Italian painters adopted this technique, they used canvas as a surface. This allowed for easier transportation of larger paintings and the canvas was lighter than the oak panels. Oil painting was mainly done using brushes and pallet knives among other ways of application. The Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden and Titians The Death of Actaeonare examples of oil paintings done in the renaissance period (National Gallery, 2016).

The use of new painting techniques during the art renaissance meant that the status of painters alleviated and they were valued more. Also these techniques meant that they could be able to produce quality paintings that were of great appeal. These techniques also meant that artists could be able to portray everyday activities in such a way that anyone looking at the paintings would feel the emotional appeal in them. Religious aspects were also easily portrayed when these techniques were developed.


National Gallery of Art: 16th-Century Renaissance Pigments and Painting Techniques: Barbara H. Berrie and Louisa C. Matthew, "Material Innovation and Artistic Invention: New Materials and New Colors in Renaissance Venetian Paintings," in Scientific Examination of Art: Modern Techniques in Conservation and Analysis. Washington: National Academy Press, 2005. Retrieved from:

Vincent Finnan; Italian Renaissance Art, Painting Techniques of the Renaissance.2016. Retrieved from:

Analysis of the Art of Renaissance Italy, Painting Techniques of the Renaissance, 2015 Retrieved from:

Ducksters; Renaissance Art, Technological Solutions Inc. 2016. Retrieved from:

Brett & Kate McKay July 16, 2010 Manly Knowledge: The Basics of Art: The Renaissance. Retrieved from:

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