On a blue and white background, there is a frame that says ‘’Create Your Own Oil Painting’ and on the bottom, there is color and brush.

How to Create Your Own Oil Painting

Whether you’ve always dreamt of being an artist or you’d just like to try out creating your very own oil painting – perhaps you’re already on the way to becoming an oil painting artist, there are lots of useful tips below to help you paint a stunning picture.

Oil paints have been used by artists across the world for hundreds of years and this medium art definition is still exceedingly popular today.  Oil paints are so versatile, and they give extraordinary depth of color.  However, it’s important to invest in good quality oil paints.

If you’ve never painted with oil paints before, it’s relatively easy but the drying time is much longer than with other types of paints, such as watercolor.  Do some research and find out the best oil paints for you.  You’ll also need a selection of oil paint brushes, a good palette, and mediums.  Follow these tips below to understand how to create a beautiful looking oil painting all of your own!

Start Small

Don’t rush out and attempt a great big canvas that’s really complicated.  Start small and as you master the art of oil painting, learning how to oil paint properly, you can move on to bigger and more complicated styles.  We’d recommend a small 8 x 10-inch canvas or canvas board.  You could also start with just paper to begin with or a piece of white cardboard to practice on first.

Be Organized

There is a painting frame and many brushes behind, all very well organized together.

Before you start your masterpiece, be organized.  That means setting up a space that’s ready for use.  There’s nothing more frustrating than getting started and realizing you’re missing important tools for your oil painting.  You’ll also need good ventilation and somewhere well-lit and comfortable.  Get all your supplies out and ready for use.  Think about your work before you embark on your oil painting, what are you painting?  Do you need a drawing reference or a few drawing references?  Are you hungry or thirsty?  If so, eat and drink first so you won’t have constant interruptions and set aside a good couple of hours to get started.  Remember, some oil paintings take weeks or months to complete, especially if they’re complicated.

Buy Good Quality Brushes

Don’t skimp on your brushes because poor quality brushes will result in a poor-quality painting.  Buy what you can afford, obviously but don’t be tempted to just go “cheap” if you can afford better quality. You’ll only need three different sizes to begin with so it shouldn’t cost a fortune. A professional grade paint is best too as these have more ratio of pigment. As you grow in confidence, you can add to your collection of tools.  We’d recommend natural hair paint brushes or bristle brushes although you can use synthetic brushes made for oil painting.

Prime Your Surface

You can paint on lots of different surfaces, paper, canvas, wood etc but you must prime it first.  You need to use gesso and add it to the surface of choice to stop the oil from seeping into your surface.  Gesso also protects your painting from any acid in the paint and allow your oil paint to adhere with ease.  There are pre-primed boards or canvasses available, but they still need a coat of gesso added.

Get Mixing

A color brush is mixing up many color paints together.

A good artist understands the art of color and blending color.  Primary paint colors aren’t pure color, they’re either yellowish or blueish.  This influences how the primary colors blend to produce your secondary colors.

Choose a Limited Color Palette

There is a color palette with many brushes settled on a white background.

You don’t need to use every color in your palette, in fact, for beginners, it’s helpful to use a limited color palette.  We’d recommend using a monochrome painting first, that’s something with black, white, and gray.  This will help you to get a feeling for oil paint and when you’re more confident then you can add color but do it slowly to get to know the colors really well.  This is a good website to buy oil paints for beginners: https://www.jerrysartarama.com/beginner-oil-painting-sets-and-kits.

Sketch First

Start your painting with an oil sketch first.  This is a thin underpainting that uses turpentine.  You might wonder what is turpentine used for!  This is one of turpentine uses.  It helps you to build up your image with paint after sketching and it dries really quickly so you can start on the main image without waiting too long.

Get to Grips with Paint Order

A girl holding a brush and a palette while painting out in nature.

This is easier to explain than you think.  Paint thickly over thin, fat over lean and slow-drying over fast-drying paint.  So, use thinner paint and less oil in the first layers of your picture.  Keep the thicker paint and higher oil consistency for layers you want to add later on.  Start with paint and turpentine and then move to painting a mix of turpentine and linseed oil (use a ration of 2 to 1).  Linseed oil dries faster than other oils.

Clean Brushes

Always clean your brushes between color use very quickly and use soap and water.  Oil painting is a messy process so have lots of old rags, cloths and paper towels close by to get rid of excess paint and turpentine. It’s a good idea to have two pots available, one for turpentine which you should use to clean up brushes between colors (another of turpentine uses) and one for mixing up your paint.

Be Tidy

Always store your oil paints away from children and pets as they’re dangerous if absorbed into the skin or swallowed.  Clean up afterwards and soak your used rags and paper towels in water before getting rid of them as they’re flammable.  Dispose of old paint, and disposable palettes straight after you’ve finished and clean up, so your artist’s area is ready for your next session.

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