Do you want to learn how to paint using oil? Mastering this medium can be a tricky feat, especially for beginners who have yet to learn the basics. If you’re new to oils - don’t fret!
We’ll be breaking down essential oil painting tips for beginners in this article to help ease your way into using oil paints.
Important Materials Needed for Oil Painting
Before we get started, here are just some of the few materials you'll need for oil painting:
Paint Brushes - Purchase different sizes of round and flat brushes to start with.
Paint Palette and Paint Knife - The paint palette is used for holding your paints, while the paint knife is for mixing your colors.
Oil Paints - Make sure to get basic colors. Most beginners start with the following: ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, titanium white, and mars black. You can create new colors by mixing any of these together.
Canvas or Paper - Oil paints can be used on different types of surfaces. Beginners start with canvas or paper.
An apron - Oil paint is known to be extremely difficult to clean off. Wear an apron to avoid getting paint onto your clothes.
8 Essential Oil Painting Tips for Beginners
Tip #1: Start by painting basic subjects.
Keep your painting simple and stick to basic shapes and figures when you're starting out. It’s also a good idea to keep your initial painting small so you can focus on mastering different techniques as well as color mixing without being too overwhelmed by the size of your canvas.
Tip #2: Prime your canvas.
Use gesso to prime your canvas if you’re using oil paints. This type of primer prevents the oil from seeping to the surface and can also help the paints stick to your canvas. Make sure to spread the primer as evenly across the canvas as you can. Most craft stores also sell primed canvases so you won’t have to do the priming yourself.
Tip #3: Paint in a well-ventilated room.
Oil paints give off fumes because of their chemical composition. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area (or keep the doors and windows open) whenever you’re using oil paints.
Tip #4: Learn how to mix oil paints.
Buy a color wheel and experiment with mixing oil paints. Trying out different combinations and seeing the results first hand is the best way to learn. Also, remember to mix the colors using your paint palette and not directly on the canvas.
Tip #5: Start out with a few colors.
Limit your palette to only a few colors when you’re starting out. Create monochromatic paintings or experiment with using just warm or cool colors so you can concentrate on the feel of the paints first.
Tip #6: Paint fat over lean.
This is one of the most important oil painting tips for beginners. Fat pertains to the amount of oil present in your paints. Whenever you add oil medium to your paints, it becomes fatter. Conversely, adding solvents to your paint will make it leaner. The fatter the paint, the slower it dries and vice versa. To keep your paint from cracking, make sure to apply the leaner layer of paint on the canvas first as it will dry faster and absorb the oil from the layer on top of it.
Tip #7: Paint thick over thin.
This concept is similar to painting fat over lean. The thicker the paint, the longer the time needed for it to dry. Use thinner paint in the first few layers and save the thicker paint for the last layers.
Tip #8: Clean your brush in between colors.
Use turpentine to clean your brush in between colors to make sure the paint doesn’t get muddy. When you're done painting, clean the brushes with soap and water to maintain the brushes' lifespan.