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Getting Started with Oil Painting

Updated on September 25, 2014

How to Begin Painting with Oil.

When aspiring artists think of foraying into oil paints, they think it's rather daunting but in this article we are going to learn its not as so.

Oil Painting is fairly easy once you get a hold of it.

And you don't need to spend all that much all you need is a couple of paints and some brushes to get you started

Cute Kitten OIl painting
Cute Kitten OIl painting

Why Oil Paints.

There are many mediums opposed to oil paints some have advantages and disadvantages, the most popular being Acrylics, Watercolor and Gouache.

Acrylic is the one medium that comes close to oil paints, it dries fairly quickly which can be a blessing or a curse.

Watercolor and Gouache both are the same with the difference being gouache is opaque and watercolor is transparent.

One of the great feature of Oils is its flexibility that you can keep your paint wet on for weeks or you can use a fast drying medium to increase drying time to as little as overnight it can be touch dry.

Johnny Depp Oil on Canvas
Johnny Depp Oil on Canvas

Things Needed

All you need to begins oil painting is a couple of bristle brush 3 should do about quarter of an inch to about half and inch.

You should get about 8 or so colors, you can purchase a bundle which includes about 10 or so paints.

The paints you should get are probably each of the following

White (Titanium or Flake White)

Black (Ivory Black)

The Primary Colors

Reds - Cadmium Red or Vermilion.

Yellows - Cadmium Yellow or Lemon Yellow

Blues - Ultramarine blue, Phthalo Blue

Optional - These paints are optional in the beginning as you can mix them with primary colors

Greens - Viridian, Sap green

Orange - cadmium Orange

And Earth Colors and browns: Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umber

Mediums for thinning paints

Linseed oil


To make a medium mix 3 part linseed oil and 4 parts turpentine - use this to thin paints to improve flow.

For Cleaning Brushes

Turpentine or low odor mineral spirit.

Dish washing liquid.

First dip the brush in turpentine, then wipe off using a paper towel or a rag, to get the oil off, then wash using Dish washing squid.

Surface to paint on.


Heavy Weight watercolor paper

Wood panels

For drawing

Charcoal Pencils

Vine Charcoal

Charcoal Sticks

Leonardo DIcaprio Oil on canvas
Leonardo DIcaprio Oil on canvas

Color Theory Basics

The Primary Colors - Red - Blue - Yellow

With the 3 primary colors you can mix any color you see under the rainbow.

Red and Yellow makes Orange.

Red and Blue makes Violet.

Blue and Yellow makes Green.

When you mix all the primary colors it will cancel out each other and you will get a very dark brown or black when mixed properly.

Complementary Colors.

To darken a color you use the complementary or the opposite color.

Red Complements Green

Blue Complements Orange

Yellow Complements Violet

To darken red, add little green to red.

To darken green, add little red to green and so on.

For more information on Color Theory visit Color Theory for Artists


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    • davies86 profile image

      davies86 6 years ago

      you are very talented

    • profile image

      seosmm 6 years ago

      Really beautiful work!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 6 years ago

      Beautiful paintings!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You have a gift in speaking through paintings and in words!

    • profile image

      Sfthomas 6 years ago

      That kitten painting is beautiful. I tried taking up painting once, but wasn't able to do it well at the time, I should practice more.

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 6 years ago

      I have high-quality oil paints waiting somewhere in my room. I have had them for many years but have used them only once. Cleaning the brushes after painting is too troublesome. :D

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Such beautiful painting and wonderful information. Great lens!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 6 years ago from USA

      Your paintings are really something. I hope we get to see more of your work.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 6 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      I love your work. I especially like the kitten. Thanks for s topping by my lens on painting with water-soluble oils.

    • masaad profile image

      masaad 6 years ago

      @youthministry: Thanks and yes we should *_*

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 6 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Great basic tips. We should all do more of what we love to do.

    • profile image

      zav 6 years ago

      I can`t paint myself, but my dad used to do oil painting and I`ve always found it fascinating and admire anyone who can do it. Thanks for a nice lens.

    • masaad profile image

      masaad 6 years ago

      @kathysart: thanks very much

    • masaad profile image

      masaad 6 years ago

      @SheGetsCreative: thanks

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      Lovely work with some great advice. THUMBS UP ANGEL BLESSED

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I took an oil painting class years ago but found it wasn't the medium for me. Nice lens

    • masaad profile image

      masaad 6 years ago

      @Loretta L: thanks and Merry Christmas to you aswell *_*

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 6 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      thanku for liking my lens, I love your painting. I have done some pretty good sketch portrains (I mean people recognixe em) but I could never paint, so you have my admiration. Your paintings are lovely. Merry Christmas to you.

    • masaad profile image

      masaad 6 years ago

      @Close2Art LM: Yes that is a concern for some painters when oil using, but some one who started off with oils have a very difficult time using acrylics because they just dry on your palette very quickly within an hour at most, this is especially cumbersome when painting portrait because you wouldnt want your flesh mixtures which you have taken a lot of time to mix to try in a jiffy, but with oil they can be used for 2,3 days easily...

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 6 years ago

      great tips, I stay don't use oils that much because of the drying time, I like to really add lots of texture and use a palette knife alot, great information and wonderful page all together, thanks for sharing, Blessed