Here are answers to 7 frequently asked questions about how to oil paint.
Questions are wonderful, that's the way we learn.
Alternately, do a light pencil drawing directly on the canvas. Or do a drawing on paper and transfer it to the canvas with graphite paper.
Ready-made stretched canvas and canvas panels from the art stores are primed with gesso. The gesso keeps the paint from sinking into the canvas.
If we do it the other way around by painting thin over thick paint, the painting may crack after a period of time.
Start a painting thin (lean) by mixing the paint with some painting medium, turpentine or mineral spirits. The thin layer of paint will dry quickly.
As the painting progresses, start using thicker, fatter paint. That means use less medium. The fat paint dries slower.
The final, fat layer of paint will be straight out of the tube with no medium added.
We can make our own painting medium by mixing half linseed stand oil with half solvent (turpentine or mineral spirits).
Store the medium in a glass container with a screw tight lid.
Oil paints are manufactured with linseed oil. So instead of using a medium, we could just add a little extra linseed oil to make the paint flow.
You may be wondering why use professional quality paint. Student grade paints are less expensive because they contain less pigment.
Less pigment means the paint
doesn't cover as well. So we may have to use several coats to get bright, juicy colors.
quality paints have more pigment. It takes less paint per painting. They
actually are a better buy after the initial investment.
High quality paints produce good quality paintings.
Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light and Ultramarine Blue
Titanium white is the best white for all around painting.
We use more white than any of the colors, so be sure and get a large tube of white.
A full palette of colors would include a warm and cool version of the six basic colors.
When we are learning how to oil paint, there is a choice of three painting supports.
Stretched canvas is the traditional oil painting support. The canvas is stretched over and around wood bars.
Cotton canvas is best for everyday oil painting. Linen with its smooth texture is great for portraits, but it is more expensive.
Panels may be made from wood or synthetic woods such as Masonite. They need to be primed with gesso in preparation for painting.
Gessobord is an archival panel, primed and ready for painting.
Canvas boards are the third option. They are suitable for student work and practice while learning to oil paint.
Soft brushes are made from real animal hair or soft synthetic hairs. They are used for smooth types of work, such as portraits and possibly still life paintings.
Stiff brushes for oil painting are
generally made from hog hair bristles. They are good for expressive work
where we may want the brush strokes to show in the finished work.
When learning how to use oil paint, get the feel of using the paints before investing in more brushes.
Save paint by mixing the colors with a palette knife.
Oil paints contain oil and we will need a solvent to clean our brushes.
Modern day artists use odorless mineral spirits or odorless turpentine.
An apron or dedicated paint clothes are a good option when we are learning how to oil paint. Baby oil is noted for taking fresh paint off of clothes.
Periodically clean the brushes with Masters Brush Cleaner or a gentle dish detergent. If we clean our brushes well with mineral spirits, they may not need additional cleaning.
Have paper towels or rags available for clean-up while painting.
A dedicated painting area will encourage us to paint more often. We can leave our supplies out, so they are ready for painting at any time.
A north window is considered the ultimate light for artists.
Otherwise use daylight bulbs with full-spectrum lighting.
Regular incandescent bulbs provide a warm light. Paintings done under regular bulbs will appear cool and dull in daylight.
A drop cloth will protect the carpet or floor.
The various colors dry at different rates. For example Burnt Umber, Raw and Burnt Sienna dry faster. The cadmium and quinacridone colors dry slower. Some colors dry with sheen and other are flat without any shine.
Alkyd paints are made with the same pigments as oil paints. The
pigments are carried by an alkyd resin instead of linseed oil. They dry very fast compared to oil paints.
Alkyds handle and look exactly like oil paints. If nobody said anything, we wouldn't know the difference.
They make it easier when learning how to oil paint.
Alkyds have a good painting consistency. They can used straight out of the tube without adding any other mediums. If necessary, they may be thinned with a little odorless mineral spirits.
Griffin alkyd paints made by Winsor and Newton have been my 'oil paints' since the 1980s. No painting medium is necessary with Griffin alkyds. All we need is the paint and some odorless mineral spirits.
When we are learning how to oil paint choose a simple subject.
Small paintings are fun!
Paint the things we see in our environment.
Or use some of our own photos.
Be wary of using commercial photos or paintings that have copyrights.
A good place to find photos without copyright restrictions is at Pixabay.