Oil Painting for Beginners — How to Begin

So are you a newbie to painting or do you have some experience in painting with other tools? Well regardless, there are some essential factors to guide you on the right track. To a particular level you can do whatever you like with acrylics, just maintain stacking the paint on till you obtain exactly what you are trying to find yet with oils it is slightly different.

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So, to begin some materials will be needed. The art shops always have large collection of materials to choose from, and this can be fairly challenging if you do not know what you are looking for. Among the collections are brushes and paint for surface areas etc.

Oil Painting


Let’s take a look at paint to start with. There are 2 primary kinds of oil paint in terms of quality — student colors and artist’s colors. The beginner oils paints are usually less costly compared to artists as they do not have expensive pigments and are created in larger amounts. The color strength may be somewhat lower than artists’ top quality oils but these are good enough if you are a beginning. So to begin with you need just a standard selection of 10 or 12 tubes of paint. You can frequently purchase the starter boxes with numerous colors when needed.

Paint Mediums

In addition to paint, you will certainly need some thinner and a bottle of painting medium. There are numerous alternatives with respect to the painting medium, but to begin with you can simply decide to use of linseed oil and as you progress, try your hands on more different kinds of medium and observe their impact or its effect.


So, some brushes are needed as well. They come in various kinds and dimensions. It might well depend upon just what design of paint you are preparing. For example if you are fine information you may need smaller sized round brushes, however if you are into huge abstract combined paints, go for large softer level brushes. It could be contentious in this regard, but when you are simply starting out and checking out various techniques, I would certainly encourage going for inexpensive brushes to see just what sort of sizes and shape you like to make. The major problems with less expensive brushes in my viewpoint are that firstly, some of the hairs may come out whilst you are painting and secondly, the brushes may not retain their shape too. Alternatively, buying expensive brushes which may turn to be wrong sets may be a costly mistake. As soon as you have figured out your painting design and which brushes are right, go for the expensive ones. For me, as an abstract artist, I additionally go for the much softer huge brushes that blend the paint actually well, as well as not leaving numerous brush strokes. I will use the brush to start with on a test painting, to get rid of loose hairs before delving into my actual painting.


Then obviously you need something to painting on! The main option in art shops is between stretched canvas and canvas board. There are certainly lots of options yet to begin with. Choose either a board or a canvas that is primed and ideal for oils (just review the tag or selected among the more usual mimic Daley-Rowney or Winsor & Newton). Maybe select a small one to begin with just to get familiar with the tool.

As soon as you have your paint and surface or support (canvas) you can begin! You will also need a combination of some sort that utilizes anything from non-reusable plates, to a piece of timber, an appropriate scheme from the art shop or a book of non reusable palettes (reduces messy combinations hanging around as you could just toss them away!). Plastic palettes serve right as they are narrow and prevents your paint from spilling as you paint.

What to Paint

So, the question is what do you paint? Yes exactly that’s the question. There are lots of resources available with step-by-step guide on how to bring your painting to life. Other resource have popular images you might want to recreate. I truly assume that attempting to duplicate something that a person has actually already done, is an excellent way to discover strategies or ways to do something with new methods.


Whatever you are trying to paint, you must use a number of layers to develop the painting, and not aim to finish all of it in one sitting! When I say this I mean the following: For the very first layer, use the paint ‘sprinkled’ down with thinners. Try use the ‘fat over lean’ approach. In common language, I mean when using paint, the most oily layer (fat) ought to be on top of the layer with least oil (lean i.e. consisting of thinners). If you don’t use this technique then your painting can subsequently split as various layers of paint dry at different rates.

Different schools of thought with different ideas regarding the best ways to really paint and what colors to use. Basically on the first layer use it with thinners in a loose manner (i.e. the paint does not need to be precise at this stage). The primary purpose is to cover all of the canvas with some paint to provide a structure. As you apply more and more layers — the variety of layers depends on you — the paint must have much more oil in it as you go on. So for instance in the following layer, you can use half linseed oil and fifty percent thinners as a medium and after that the layer after linseed oil with no thinners.

Cleansing Brushes

The common knowledge is to clean brushes with turps or brush cleaner. However, I insist on using soap and warm water as well (keeping the environment and odor in mind, as well as preserving the brushes). Soap can be common soap or you can use depleting fluid. Make the brush damp then build up lather with the soap. Rinse out the paint with cozy water and repeat until the brush is clean.

Oil paints do take some time to dry — particularly if you keep them in acrylics. Painting with even more thinners will dry quicker however, you can buy mediums to make them dry quicker (e.g. liquin). The first layer with thinners should dry out reasonably quickly, particularly if you are using earthy colors. It depends on you if you wait for the layers to completely dry, on a regular basis and this relies on the type of painting you are doing, or if you added successive layers to the damp paint. If you do this then, be careful to work in precise strokes and clean your brush often to ensure that the paint does not become ‘sloppy’ as well as mix layers together greater than you would certainly like.


So in recap, for the full beginner to painting, I would suggest this: Get yourself a box of beginner oil paints, some thinner, some linseed oil, a combination, 2 or 3 brushes in various dimensions, and a canvas. Pick a subject or get a book that gives you detailed directions. Paint in layers ‘fat over lean’. Keep practicing!

There have been lots of publications created on the subject and I would certainly encourage you if you are actually serious regarding painting with oils to get hold of the one full details, although this post just provided a few hints to begin with.