Oil paint is an exciting medium to work with. One will never become bored while painting with oil paints. There are a variety of materials and other mediums at your fingertips and when you combine these materials and mediums with the versatility of oil paints, you have a variety of interesting ways to begin an oil painting. There are certain drawing and painting mediums that are compatible with oil paints and when utilized, will make your painting experience more interesting and enjoyable.
Charcoal works beautifully as a preliminary step to oil painting. There are three main forms of charcoal used most often by artist's and they are compressed, willow and vine charcoal. Willow and Vine charcoal tend to be more highly favored for preliminary drawings as they leave a lighter mark and are easier to erase. Compressed charcoal, because it leaves a much darker line, is more difficult to remove and not as widely used to start an oil painting. Some helpful tools to use for working with charcoal are kneaded erasers, stiff bristle brushes, blenders and tortillions. Whatever type of charcoal drawing you create, make sure not to go overboard with your application. Charcoal is very forgiving with oil paints, but too much, and it can effect the paint in adverse ways.
PAINTING ON A TONED GROUND
Depending on the type of final picture you are working toward, sometimes the white of the canvas can be too bright or have too much contrast which makes starting a painting rather difficult. Using a uniform toned ground on your support, will make it much easier to judge the values in your painting. You are welcome to use any color you like to tone your canvas. Some of the more popular tones are warm reds, yellow and browns.
Toning your canvas is pretty straight forward and will not require that much time. Here is an example using one of my favorite tones. First create a thin wash using Yellow Ocher and Burn Umber. Apply the wash to your support generously. Use a large bristle brush to spread and cover the support entirely. Allow the wash to dry for a couple of minutes and then wipe off the excess with a cloth. You do not have to use oils to tone your canvas. You can tone your canvas with any of the water mediums described below.
Acrylic paint is an excellent choice for starting an oil painting and one of my favorites. One of the most attractive features of acrylic paint is its fast drying time. This property of acrylic paint makes blocking in your underpainting very easy. Ideas can be worked out quickly on your canvas and instead of waiting days for your underpainting to dry, you are ready to paint in mere minutes. This really does depend on the type of acrylic paint you are using and how thickly you apply it. Not only is the fast drying time attractive, but as in other water based mediums, there is no need to thin the paint with dangerous substances like turpentine.
WATER SOLUBLE PENCILS
Water soluble pencils provide an excellent way to begin an oil painting mainly because of their versatility. The beauty of this medium is that when dry, it acts like a normal colored pencil, but when water is added, it magically mimics the properties of water color. This enables the artist to both draw detailed lines as well as create colorful washes.
WATER SOLUBLE OIL PAINT
Many artists are not that familiar with this last medium as its a relative newcomer to the world of painting. Enter, water soluble oil paint. With normal oil paints, a traditional method for starting a painting is by diluting the oil paint with turpentine to apply washes. The problem with turpentine is its a very dangerous substance. Many artists develop allergic reactions to this substance and are unable to use it. The beauty of water soluble oil paints is that no turpentine or other harmful substances are needed. They can be thinned with plain old water. Water soluble oil paints behave just like normal oil paints and your brushes can be cleaned with soap and water, again, avoiding the need to use harsh chemicals.