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Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder. Commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. The choice of oil imparts a range of properties to the oil paint, such as the amount of yellowing or drying time. Certain differences, depending on the oil, are also visible in the sheen of the paints. An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular consistency depending on the medium. The oil may be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense, to create a varnish prized for its body and gloss.
The oldest known oil paintings were created by Buddhist artists in Afghanistan and date back to the 7th century AD. The technique of binding pigments in oil was known in Europe by at least the 12th century. The adoption of oil paint by Europeans began with Early Netherlandish painting in Northern Europe, and by the height of the Renaissance, oil painting techniques had almost completely replaced the use of tempera paints in the majority of Europe.
In recent years, water miscible oil paint has become available. Water-soluble paints are either engineered or an emulsifier has been added that allows them to be thinned with water rather than paint thinner, and allows, when sufficiently diluted, very fast drying times (1–3 days) when compared with traditional oils (1–3 weeks).