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Oil Painting for Beginners

Priya Johnson
Oil paintings have enchanted people for centuries, and today this art form has emerged as a hobby as well. Read on for some basics of oil painting, which will help beginners get more familiarized with this art form.
Oil paintings have fascinated myriads of people over the years. These paintings make wonderful gifts and are great hobbies. Oft people like the appearance of oil painting, but shun away from making their own, fearing that oil painting is highly complex.
While oil painting is not child's play, a keen interest in it, accompanied by creativity and diligence will help one learn and master this fine art. However, the question that keeps troubling beginners is how to get started. Let's take a look at the different aspects of oil painting that you need to get familiar with.

Basics for Beginners

To start off one must be equipped with some basic art supplies.

Oil Paints

Never spend oodles of money on expensive brands of paint. The market is flooded with reasonably priced, good quality paints which are recommended for beginners.
Once the art has been mastered, one can purchase expensive paints. Another tip to keep in mind is that the initial layer done with oil paints take time to dry. Therefore, it's advisable to start off with an acrylic paint for the initial layer, as it saves drying time.

Paint Brushes

Brushes for oil painting come in two basic forms: hard brushes and soft brushes. Hard brushes are stiff, strong, and handle the painting medium well. The softer brushes are generally used to give a smoother appearance (for finishing touches).
As far as the sizes are concerned, the brushes come in sizes of 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, wherein 1 is the smallest size and 10 is the largest.
Besides selecting and purchasing brushes, one has to also maintain the brushes properly for future use. One should clean the brushes after a painting session. Several products are available for cleaning and conditioning brushes in the stores.
Once the brushes have been washed and conditioned, attach a clothespin to the handle of the brush, such that the clothespin rests on the edge of a table, so that the bristles of the brush point towards the floor.
The gravitational force will pull the moisture from the brush, such that it does not collect in the ferrule. If the brush cleaner does not remove all the paint, use an odorless mineral spirit.

Medium for Oil Painting

Mediums are generally not required for oil painting. However, if one finds the paint too stiff to paint with, one can dilute the paint using a medium. Diluting the paints will not only make the paint flow better, but it will also mean using less amount of paint.
Utilization of paint is directly proportional to the expenses. The lesser the paint utilized, the lower the paint costs. White spirit, linseed oil, poppy seed oil, turpentine, Gesso primer, etc., are different mediums that can be used.


Canvas is the best support available for beginners. Art supply stores have made things easier for beginners by supplying already-primed canvases.
This means beginners need not take the effort of applying a special coat of primer onto the canvas. Buying ready-to-use canvas might prove expensive, however, once the skill of oil painting has been mastered one can try stretching one's own canvas.

Oil Painting Techniques for Beginners

Once all the supplies have been purchased, one needs to start oil painting. To begin painting, all one needs to do is pick up the brush, dip it in the paint and start painting on the canvas.
There is no particular way in which one should hold the brush, and each artist has his or her way of holding it. As a beginner, one should not be apprehensive. The style will be developed gradually. However, one should take note of one point: one should not work too close to the canvas.
This is because working too close to the canvas causes the eyes to focus on a few inches of the canvas at a time. This increases the danger of overdeveloping a limited area, thereby losing the bigger picture.
Before the commencement of painting on the canvas, it is advisable to experiment with the brushes, so as to find out which textures, lines, and tones can be produced by each one. Then with each of the brushes, carry out single strokes across the canvas.
One should use paint generously and should not be disturbed by the paint ridges that squeeze out of the stroke edges. These effects are characteristics of this kind of painting. Use the brushes to make all kinds of zigzag, wavy, and broken lines. The more one works with the brush, the more one will learn about how to handle them.
Proper lighting plays a major role in oil painting. Natural light or lighting that mimics natural sunlight is required for proper drying of the painting. Moreover, oil paintings can prove hazardous if appropriate precautions are not taken.
Beginners should make sure painting is carried out in well-ventilated areas and they should wear disposable latex gloves while painting. There are several art classes available that provide different courses which will help understand this fine art form better.