How to paint in oil: Tips & Tricks

Oil paint is a type of slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by the addition of a solvent such as turpentine or white spirit, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried oil paint film.

Tips & Tricks

22serendipity22-oil-painting.jpg  1935814_578930706643_1047465_n.jpg

Tip #1: You don’t have to always start a big size painting,Start with small paintings. Painting Small gives you the chance to try out techniques and experiment with color without investing too much time or material into the process. You can start by purchasing small 8×10 inch canvases or canvas boards.

Tip #2: Set up a space in a good ventilated area where you can keep your palettes and supplies out and your paintings visible. This will give you the chance to see and think about your work. Your work will improve rapidly if you paint a lot.

Tip #3: You don’t have to spend lots of money for creating high quality paints and brushes. If you are serious about learning in oil, I suggest buying professional grade paints. Professional grade has a greater ratio of pigment to binder. Buy only a few higher quality brushes – three different sizes should be good to start with. You can buy more and experiment with the different shapes as you paint more. Synthetic brushes are made for acrylic paints for oil, but there are also a range of natural hair brushes that can be used with oil. Bristle (hog) brushes are the most commonly used.

Tip #4: Use a Primer or even better, Gesso, to the painting to cover the whole entire face on the painting’s surface. You can paint on many different surfaces such as canvas, wood and paper. Gesso helps that it is important to apply a type of primer called gesso to the painting surface to prevent the oil from seeping into the surface. It also protect the surface from the acids in the paint, and provide a surface that the paint will adhere to more easily.  Pre-primed boards or canvases may sometimes need another coat of Gesso for getting a smoother surface. Ampersand Gessobord is a nice smooth durable surface to work on.

Tip #5: Understand color and color mixing is important. Primary paint colors are not “pure” but rather lean toward either yellow or blue. To get a warmer look to it afters more yellow or cool if towards blue. This influences how the primary colors mix to produce the secondary colors. There are rules and regulations with Color Wheel and Color Mixing to see how the secondary colors from the warm and cool primaries. Mixing to see how I’ve created secondary colors from the warm and cool primaries. Knowing these facts about paint, will help you keeping your mixed colors from getting muddy.


Tip #6: Your painting palette doesn’t necessarily have to have all the pigments on it. Instead of using all the colors in a painting, start with a monochrome painting. The style is wanting a painting of only one hue plus its shades (black added) and tints (white added). This will allow you to get the feel of the paint. When you are ready, add a warm and cool of each primary color to your palette, along earth tones like burnt sienna, burnt umber and yellow ochre.

Tip #7: Start laying out your painting composition and values with an oil sketch. This is a thin underpainting consisting of a color and turpentine (or odorless turpentine substitute such as Turpenoid). This will help shorten dry quickly so that you can then add subsequent layers of paint and color without having to wait too long for it to dry. Burnt sienna is useful to lay out values and composition; whether you work on a white canvas or tone it with a neutral gray first.

Tip #8: Instead of just using thinner paint, paint thick over thin, fat over lean, and slow-drying over fast-drying. Using self thinner paint and less oil in the first layers, saves a thicker paint and higher oil content for later layers. This will also ensure that earlier layers dry first and will help to keep your painting from cracking. Start with an underpainting of paint and turpentine, then move to a painting medium of a combination of turpentine and linseed oil in a ratio of 2:1. Linseed oil can yellow with age (which is more apparent on light colors), but dries faster than other oils.


Tip #9: Clean your brush immediately between colors and soap and water when finished painting. Having paper towels handy is essential since oil painting can get messy. Have two containers available while painting – one for turpentine for cleaning your brush between colors and one for medium to mix with your paint.

Tip #10: Clean up well and dispose of supplies properly. Oil paints and mediums are toxic if ingested or absorbed into the skin. Keep them put away and out of reach of pets and small children. Dispose of paints, mediums, rags, paper towels, and disposable paper palettes or paper plates (also good to use as palettes) properly. You should wet or soak rags and paper in water before discarding them since they are flammable, can heat up when drying out, and sometimes spontaneously combust.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.