How to start using the Oil?

Starting a new artistic practice is exciting, fun, but sometimes somewhat impressive. Because although the discovery is enriching, you don’t always know how to get started or with what… This blog contains all kinds of articles aimed at a more or less informed audience, but I realized that it might lack the very basis: How to get started?

Oil painting has a reputation that often precedes it: It is a traditional technique, beautiful but very complicated. This is not really false… except that its complexity is due only to the choice of its practice. With a simple method, oil painting becomes simple. Here is how to practice a simple method with a minimum of material.

oil painting

1 – Get the equipment

From second-hand online or new in store, basic Fine Art equipment is easily available. And don’t bother, we just start with these 5 elements: Brushes, colours, holder, medium, diluent.

The easiest and most convenient and to get a ready-to-use box with all the necessary equipment. The higher the price, the higher the quality and completeness of the boxes. It will simply be necessary to add the support and sometimes the diluent.

As far as the pallet is concerned, the manufacturers offer you some very beautiful pallets made of varnished wood for example. But as it is recommended to always have a clean pallet, it is better to use disposable pallets, otherwise you will have to clean them after each session. Special paper blocks exist, otherwise plastic plates (recyclable of course!) will do very well…

2 – Prepare yourself

It is true that oil painting is not really a spontaneous practice. This technique allows all the possible effects during long sessions thanks to its slow drying, unfortunately, unlike aqueous techniques, it is necessary first of all to prepare the material…

  • Since thinner and medium are harmful to health, it is better to paint in a ventilated room. Open a window, for example, even slightly.
  • Place your stand on a table or easel.
  • If you are right-handed, put your equipment (brushes, palette and medium) to the right of the support. On the other hand, if you are left-handed, put them on the left.
  • Place your colours on the palette, ranging in size from a pea to a hazelnut depending on the size of the support. It is better to add more if it runs out than to waste it. The tubes are already expensive enough.
  • The medium is poured in very small quantities (one tablespoon) into a container in which you dip the brush.
  • As for new brushes, sometimes the bristles are glued by the manufacturers to protect them, making them rigid. Do not bend them by forcing them, put them under warm water instead!

3 – Ready? Go away! Go away!

You are now ready to paint. Oil paint can be used directly, as it comes out of the tube. However, it is sometimes difficult to apply because it does not work well. This is why the presence of the medium is necessary. It enriches the colours with fat, so that they become fluid, shiny and consistent, and the diluent (essence) should only be used in this first training step to clean the brushes. Its dilution with mediums is useful for the elaboration of a painting in several layers, but it is better to learn to master your tools before complicating the process.

So start with small subjects with limited details, on a small format. When you start, the most important thing is to understand how it works. Learn about colour mixing, dosing with the medium and the different brush strokes. Once this first approach has been made, then choose a more elaborate subject.