There’s just something about painting with oils that encompasses your senses.
It’s the feeling of the buttery textured paint as you blend it on your palette.
It’s the smell of the paint thinner and the slight taste of it on your lips from an errant chew of a brush-end or a hand wiped across your mouth. It’s the lingering stains that remain under your nails to remind you that you are an artist.
There is just nothing to compare to Oil Paints.
If you’re limited on space and need to put away everything between painting sessions, oil painting is a bit of a challenge. Unlike acrylics or watercolors that dry rapidly, oil paints can take days or weeks to dry. In the interim, the artist must keep the painting protected from potential damage. Carrying oil paintings back and forth to class is also tricky. Before you commit yourself to oil painting, be sure you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment.
Space And Portability
As with any type of paint, you can start out with the basics and add as you find the need or desire for additional supplies. However, with oil paints you do need to make a few extra purchases in addition to paint, palette, canvases and brushes. You definitely need solvent to clean your brushes and you may elect to add a medium or two.
You will need an easel to support your canvas. Now, we’ve all seen photos or displays of wonderful, massive oak easels that take up an entire corner of a studio. That’s the Rolls Royce of easels, and if you paint huge, heavy canvases, you may actually need such a beast. However, most artists begin their painting career with less herculean pieces. A small, foldable easel of aluminum or wood is perfectly suitable.
If you don’t have an entire room to devote to your new passion, commandeer a corner near a window to set up your studio. It’s a good idea to cover the flooring with a drop cloth or inexpensive floor covering to protect the surface against the inevitable splash of color.
Now, all you need is a table or tabouret to hold products while you’re working and shelves or drawers to store all your supplies. That’s why a tabouret is a good investment. It gives you a nice workspace and provides storage in one unit.
If you plan to paint en plein air or want to take classes, pick up a toolbox from a hardware store that will hold your paints and brushes. Use a clean Styrofoam tray as a palette, or purchase a disposable paper palette pad. Canvas boards are good to have on hand for outings, as they are rigid and are easier to handle than a traditional canvas.
Tools And Supplies
The mandatory items for a beginner to start painting are Oil Paints, brushes, palette, palette knife, solvent and a painting surface. You will probably wind up with a whole lot more over the course of the next few months, but this list is all the basics you need to begin painting.
Every beginning artist is overwhelmed with the selection of paints available. Start out with the basic list provided by your class, book or video from which you intend to study. Some oil paints can be very costly. Start out with a reputable brand and buy the best you can afford. There really is a difference in quality between student and professional grades.
Canvas boards are inexpensive and come in many sizes. Use canvas boards for your first experiments in painting. As you progress, you will want to opt for stretched canvas. You can also use gessoed Masonite as a painting surface, but you must prime the board before using it.
Brushes can vary from sable brushes that are as soft as a kitten’s tummy to bristle brushes that can poke someone’s eye out. For oil painting, you need brushes that are sturdy enough to support the paint. There’s a range of textures that are suitable for oil painting, and you should start with moderately stiff bristles. You’ll only need a few, so don’t go crazy with all the choices you’ll find available. Be sure to buy long handled brushes.
You’ll be adding medium and gesso to your shopping cart as you proceed in your studies. Mediums change the texture of the paint, thinning it for a glaze, slowing down, or speeding up the drying time. Gesso is used if you have un-primed canvases or wish to pre-texture your painting surface.
What Can I Expect?
You can expect to do a lot of waiting with Oil Paints. That’s why most artists work on several pieces concurrently. This waiting game builds patience and gives you lots of time to contemplate your work-in-progress.
The slow drying time can be a real blessing. If you’re unhappy with a section of your piece, simply scrape it off and begin again. You won’t see a watercolorist trying that maneuver.
Painting an undercoat to give a sense of your composition to a blank canvas is a great asset. This gives the painting harmonious undertones and can help with the initial colorations. Glazing is a real joy in oil painting. You can slightly adjust your colors and mood by the addition of glazing to areas or the entire piece.
Referring to yourself as an oil painter gives you instant ‘Artist’ credentials with general acquaintances. You may have a $29.99 starter kit and have done nothing more than paint daisies in a vase, but the words ‘oil painter’ somehow lend credibility to your newfound passion. Get over it. Learning oil painting is hard work. There’s a great deal to discover, and you’ll have a whole lot of scraped canvas boards to re-use as you come to terms with the peculiarities of this tough taskmaster.
However, it’s one of the most versatile and beautiful of all painting mediums. As you work with and learn the complexities of oil paints, you will develop a greater appreciation for the old masters. The jewel like colors, the depth and richness that one can achieve with these paints is unsurpassed. Immerse yourself in conquering this ancient medium, and you may be amazed with your results.
FREE Online Art Paint Course
There are 27 Chapters in this Free Online Painting Course:
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Watercolor – Where to Start
Watercolor Paint Brands
Watercolor Paint Brushes
Watercolor Basic Painting Techniques
Advanced Watercolor Painting Techniques
Watercolor Painting Accessories
Watercolor Painting Tips and Tricks
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