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Oil painting also allowed for new textures that were not possible in other forms of painting. This can be seen especially in Van Eyck's depiction of hair. Mary's hair is tightly curled. If you look closely, you can see the individual curls, and if you look even closer, you can see little wisps poking out from the hair. Oil painting allows for different textures due to its slower drying time and wider array of colors. Mary's hair looks incredibly realistic, with Van Eyck understanding well the texture of hair and how to translate that to the canvas. You can also see this skilled depiction of hair on the knight as well.


Van Eyck uses Chiaroscuro to frame Mary's face as the center of the painting. Chiaroscuro is dramatic light/dark effects in painting. We can see this as the left side of Mary's face is light, the sun directly hitting it, while the right side of her face/the background behind her is shrouded in shadow. This helps add volume to the painting and makes the space feel more three-dimesional, since the sun is clearly hitting one side of Mary's face and causing her to cast shadow on the wall behind her. Oil paintings allowed for more dramatic light/dark effects due to the ability to paint light over dark, and Van Eyck takes full advantage of that here. This is another example of Van Eyck's mastery in making realistic oil paintings.



Jan Van Eyck was known as a master in the art of oil painting, so much so that many believed he had invented it. He showcases his mastery well in this painting, "Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele". In this painting, Van Eyck shows off his genius in creating three-dimensional and realistic figures and spaces. By taking advantage of the benefits of oil painting, as well as using tired and true methods of creating depth, Van Eyck creates a painting that you feel like you could walk into yourself. Van Eyck's usage of vibrant color, complex texture, intricate lines, dramatic shadows, and foreshortening all serve to create a realistic painting. Van Eyck was well known for his realistic and detailed oil paintings, and this "Virgin and Child" makes it clear why.

Van Eyck's work with lines in this painting is also worth noting. Mary's dress in particular is very impressive. The lines create an effective illusion of three-dimensionality in Mary's dress, making it feel real and worn by an actual person. This work with lines can be seen throughout the painting, with the priest on the left's robes as well as the knight on the right's flag. These lines are distinctive and bold, drawing the eye and making the garment feel real. This, along with other benefits of oil painting, gives the painting a more realistic look than older paintings that used different techniques.


This painting showcases the ways in which oil paintings could use color in ways that tempera and frecos could not. Tempera and frescos were limited in hue due to the way different color paints were made: they were combined with egg yolks, leading to durable paint that was limited in hue. Oil painting did not have this limitation, meaning colors in oil paintings became more vibrant and rich. This can be seen in this painting in the deep blues of the figure on the left's priest robes, and the rich reds of Mary's dress. These magnificent colors serve to make the painting more realistic, reflecting the vibrancy of colors that exist in real life. Van Eyck was an early master of oil painting, and that mastery can be seen on display here.


Van Eyck uses foreshortening in several places to create an illusion of three-dimensionality. Forshortening is a way to design lines in a painting to make them appear to come forward or go backward in space. In this example, the knights left foot appears to come forward in space, while his right foot seems to go backward. This foreshortening creates an illusion that what you're looking at is real, and makes the figures feel more human and lifelike to the viewer. Foreshortening can also be seen in the two objects the priest on the left is holding, with one appearing to come forward in space while the other is behind it, as well as in Baby Jesus' feet.