Why do you never see oil paintings in architecture?


It seems most schools teach and promote watercolor painting, and when you look at renderings for projects, if they're done by hand, it's a watercolor.  Why don't the firms ever use oil paintings to depict their proposal?  Why do architecture schools have this bias towards watercolor?

Feb 3, 13 12:02 am

Have you ever painted in oils before? It's such a slow process you could use the word "glacially."

Feb 3, 13 12:08 am


I have not, no

Feb 3, 13 12:10 am

It typically takes between 2-8 days for a layer to dry. Some colors can take up to 2 weeks. At the bare minimum, you need at least 24-48 hours for a layer to dry enough to be painted on. However, if you apply a faster drying paint on top of a slower drying layer that isn't fully cured, the paint will crack.

A complicated large painting with multiple layers can easily take a month or two to complete and can then take several weeks after that to be fully cured.

On top of that, various paints have different specular and diffuse values that are typically evened out by the application of oil top coats. Then the entire painting is generally sealed with a few layers of varnish to protect it and even out the texture.

Feb 3, 13 12:14 am


Feb 3, 13 12:19 am

eh...not true, you can do oil wash painting. it's quite beautiful, and can be done on vellum.

Feb 3, 13 1:50 am

I've painted in oils for years, and there are quick-dry techniques you can use with them. You need to use a fast-drying medium with the paint, and application techniques that keep the applied layers thin (as opposed to the heavy brushwork you often see in oils). I use those little foam paint rollers from Home Depot rather than brushes.

Using a hair dryer like you do with fast-application watercolor helps too, but you need to be careful with that. Oil paint is flammable, and fast-drying medium is REALLY flammable. Use in a well-ventilated area, if you know what I mean.

Feb 4, 13 1:01 pm
Sarah Hamilton

gw, you're taking all the fun out!

Feb 4, 13 1:13 pm

One of my classmates did oil paintings of her concepts for her thesis project

Feb 4, 13 1:43 pm

I think there just aren't many people out there who know what they're doing with oils and can produce a pleasing final product in a short amount of time. Watercolour is a lot cheaper and more portable (at least I think so... never got into high-end watercolours).

Feb 4, 13 3:20 pm

Check out Steven Holl + Calatrava's water colors

Feb 4, 13 4:32 pm
Pinemarten  An oil print on canvas. They may be a faster way to go.

Feb 4, 13 4:56 pm

water colors are so much easier and convenient.. I could have my entire set in a tiny box the size of my digital camera..  I'd need a huge case for an oil painting set.

Feb 5, 13 1:57 am


"I'll stand at mast, let North winds blow
Till half of us are dead.
Land Ho!"

Feb 5, 13 11:45 am

I suppose we should credit your prose to The Doors and my paintng to Ed Miracle in case some are curious. I actually created my Ebay account to buy my oil there. Search Ebay - 'oil paintings' and that may be the fastest/lowest cost?

Feb 5, 13 8:16 pm

 Water colors are just way easier to quickly get an idea down. You can basically do a wash over a line work sketch.  I guess if you had weeks to do a high profile presentation, oils would be effective. I tried some oil painting for fun after I graduated, but it just is too time consuming. It takes 1/2 hour to clean your brushes so you don't just decide to do a quick sketch and then go leave.

 Even in the computer age, water colors are a viable solution when time is tight. Some people just draw and paint well, and can do something in half an hour that would take more time on the computer. If you are wanting the higher quality of oils, then computer renderings start to be more effective, both in time and quality. Plus with a 3D base, its easy to change the view or the design, try that with oils and you would never finish a project.

Feb 6, 13 2:09 pm

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