5 Beginner Oil Painting Tips

Oil painting is one of the most popular forms of painting. The majority of master painters worked in oil and collectors seem to prefer oil paintings. It is a beautiful and unique form of art that deserves more attention than it gets.

Learning how to use oil paints can be a bit more difficult than learning acrylics or watercolors. The reason for that mostly lies in the layering and drying time oil paintings require. It is a complicated process that takes practice to learn how to do it correctly.

A few simple tips to help you get started will make the process much easier and your paintings come out better. You will not be great at oil painting immediately because everything worth doing takes practice and this is what makes oil painting artists so remarkable!

You will be significantly better than if you were starting with no knowledge. Here are a few tips on oil painting for beginners to help get you started on your journey. With a little practice and hard work, you might just find your work ready for a fine art gallery or your local artist’s co-op.

1. Start Thin

Oil paints straight from their container are very thick and concentrated. They take a very long time to dry and are more difficult to spread into a thin coat. That is why you should start an oil painting by mixing your oils with an odorless solvent to make it thinner and easier to work with.

To achieve that layered, textured look that oil paintings are known for, you need to start with a thin base layer and build from there. When you have built up some color and texture on your painting you can begin using paint straight from the tube. That will help create the pigmented and textured look that most oil paintings possess.

The main goal is to make sure your bottom layers of paint dry before your top layers of paint. If your top layers dry first your painting is very likely to crack from the wet paint beneath. You will probably crack a few paintings but starting thin will help prevent that and add the right dimension to your painting.

2. Start Small

You should not begin oil painting with a huge pallet of colors. Though it is tempting to use all of the gorgeous oil colors you can find, it will likely end in a very messy painting. Starting with a few basic colors and a simple scene is the best way to learn.

Find a nice scene with a few bright colors you can use and learn with those paints before you add any extra pigments. Oil paints get messy quickly and take a very long time to dry. The more you use the easier it will be for you to mess up the painting and end up frustrated.

Giving yourself a small color pallet and an achievable goal will set you up for success and allow you to paint a pretty, simple picture. No one can start off great with oil paints and you need to allow yourself the time to build confidence and skill before you add a lot of colors. Allow yourself to start small and work your way up.

3. Start Prepared

Trying to oil paint without the right tools is difficult and frustrating. There is no need to put yourself through that when painting supplies are so readily available in stores and online. Make sure you have purchased the correct tools to help you get started.

All of the best-selling oil paint will work fine but make sure you purchase “artist quality” paints. The “student quality” paints are not as high quality and will not turn out as well on canvas. Different types of paint are most effective on specific brushes so make sure you are using the correct brushes for oil painting.

You are also going to need an easel, canvas, pallet, solvent, and paper towels to wipe your brushes on. Your canvas should be made for oil paints. For a beginner’s painting, you should purchase the cheaper canvas boards that cover wood instead of a stretched canvas.

4. Start Right

After you lay down your first thin layer of paint mixed with the solvent you are going to want a simple outline of your painting. You will want your thin paint layer to be an earth tone or a tone that shows up a lot in the scene you are painting. Over that layer, you will want to draw a rough sketch of the scene adding a little more detail where it is needed.

Once you have your base layer and a rough sketch on canvas you can begin color blocking. It is important you make sure that your color blocking is made of colors that work together to create a harmonious image. Even if the image is only basic shapes at that point.

When you are done blocking in your shapes and colors you can begin refining your painting. Adding layers and texture and color to capture the scene as you want it. This part will probably take the longest and you might not be immediately happy with it.

5. Start Patient

One of the great things about oil paintings is how long they take to dry. It is usually a several-day period where you will need to keep your painting on an easel and out of direct sunlight. During that time you can look over the painting and decide whether you like it as it is or if it needs to be reworked.

If you feel the painting needs more detail or more color then it is easy to start layering up more paints to create the look you want. If you did too much then you might be able to wipe some of the wet paint off. It is more likely you will want to take that as a learning experience to build up carefully and purposefully.

Oil painting is a difficult art to master. It requires patience that very few other arts require. Allowing your painting the time it needs to dry and giving yourself the room to take your time while you paint is invaluable and will make you a much better oil painter.

To Conclude

Oil painting is a gorgeous art that many of the masters favored. It is also very difficult and requires patience and perseverance. Allowing yourself the time you need to learn and the grace to accept you will not immediately be great is the best attitude to start painting with.

When you begin an oil painting it is important you use a thin layer of paint. If your bottom layers of paint are too thick they may dry after the top layers and cause your painting to crack. You should also start with a reasonably sized pallet for a beginner instead of trying to go big in the beginning.

Make sure you have the proper tool to start an oil painting with. Oil paints are difficult and it is important that you use the right tools so you can achieve the look you want. Finally, set yourself up for success by sketching out what you want to draw and using a harmonious color pallet.

Oil painting is difficult. It takes time to learn how to do it right and how to do it well. The more you practice the better you will become and the more gorgeous your paintings will be.


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