Easy Oil Painting For Beginners Tips

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Learning to oil paint can be intimidating, but it does not have to be. Some beginners are anxious about taking up these ages old art form, but they should not be. Here are some great tips to on oil painting for beginners.

Basic Necessities

There are some essentials that every painter needs. Let's start with brushes. Sable brushes are usually best because they hold both their shape and the paint better.

Also, canvases can be bought pre-stretched and already primed. More experienced painters generally like to prepare their canvases themselves, but for the beginner this can be overwhelming.

Then there's the palette and paintings. There are disposable palettes and paints made especially for beginners. Turpentine or mineral spirits are used to thin the paint, and oils such as linseed or poppy are used to thicken it. Some teachers recommend their beginners start out with vegetable oil.

The beginner should put the paintings on the palette in the same order every time. That way, their placement will become second nature.

The basic paint colors needed are flake white, ivory black, cadmium yellow, chrome yellow, cobalt blue, ultramarine, burnt sienna, raw sienna, and crimson.

Fat Over Lean Technique

One of the first techniques a beginner needs to learn is the fat over lean method. Fat oil paint is heavier, so there takes longer to dry. Paints with less oil in them will dry quicker. These are considered lean paints. The drying times of various oil paints can range from 12 hours to over a week.

Another technique is called impasto. This is where the paint is laid on the canvas heavily with a brush or knife, leaving the strokes visible. It creates a beautifully textured painting that appears to leak out at the viewer.

A painting should always be left to dry in the light. Leaving it to dry in the dark can cause a thin layer of oil to rise to the surface. This can be removed with alcohol, but if not done carefully the painting can be damaged.

Artistic Challenges

Besides the technical details of oil painting, it's important to remember the artistic side too. Many painters compose the painting in their heads first. It's good to be aware of what the focal point of the painting will be, and to understand how not to take away from it.

Some painters sketch the painting on the canvas with acrylic or water-soluble paint before beginning. Pencil or charcoal can be used also.

Clean Up

Finally, after the artistic masterpiece is rendered, there's the clean-up. Many art stores sell pre-mixed cleaning solution for brushes, and this is a good option when someone is still a beginner.

Many teachers recommend soaking brushes in baby oil before cleaning. This will help emulsify the paint. Also, brushes should be conditioned after they're cleaned so as to keep their firmness.

Oil painting for beginners is an enjoyable and lifelong hobby for many people. And no matter what time in life a person starts, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling pastime.


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