|Portrait of a Man with a Turban,|
1433, Jan van Eyck, possible
The Flemish artist, Jan Van Eyck, had those problems, at least up until about 1400. No doubt he wasn't the first artist to say to himself, "There's got to be an easier way to make a living." Except that he did something about it. Egg tempera, while rich in color, was poor in subtlety, even in expert hands. So, he invented oil painting. Blending his laboriously acquired pigments into linseed oil allowed him hours, even days to work and rework a given area, instead of mere minutes. And oils were especially well-suited for painting on those new, light, sturdy, stretched, gessoed linen canvases, rather than heavy, awkward old boards. Moreover, they gave him a practically unlimited scope of space upon which to craft his masterpieces. Now if only he could round up a few more apprentices to scrounge and grind pigments, life would be a still-life bowl full of cherries.
(Note: van Eyck wasn't the first to paint using oils, but, according to the 16th Century art historian, Giorgio Vasari, he was likely the first western artist to do so exclusively.)