Oil painting history as we know it started to develop in the 1400s with some of the early Flemish Masters like Jan Van Eyck before spreading to other parts of Europe. Up until the 19th century, artists had to make their own oil paints and part of the craft was learning this under the tutelage of a master. You generally studied under a master artist in their workshop over many years.
How brushstrokes can influence works of art is seen in the above Jill Poyerd groundbreaking video. There are many different brushstrokes that artists can use and it’s interesting to see which strokes the Masters used that made them so famous. In the video, she traces back the history of famous artistic brushwork in the period from the early Renaissance to the late 1800s.
As Van Eyck wanted to move from painting on boards to canvas he realized to get greater detail he had to change his oil painting technique and the qualities of the materials he painted with.
Pigments came from various plants and minerals and were added to a binder to create a paste. The most common binder that was used was egg. This lead to inconsistency in the oil paints created. Something more reliable was needed and this led to the use of oils.