How to Start Oil Painting: Tips for Beginner

Are you thinking about how to start oil painting business but not sure where to start? Are you overwhelmed by the fact that it seems more complex than you thought? Do you want to know how to start oil painting? Then you are right with us.

Here we have put together some tips for getting started with oil painting. You will learn some tricks, the tools you need, and where to start if you think of how to start oil painting business. Without wasting a single second, we jump right in.

Oil Painting for Beginners- How to Start?

1. Start Oil Painting by learning to draw

practicing for oil painting

The basic requirement for oil painting is some drawing skills. So, to start oil painting, you need to be able to draw. It may sound awkward, but the reality is that if you can draw, you can achieve a beautiful oil painting. The first lesson in oil painting should be working with the existing images that will serve as your artwork.

It is your drawing skills that will help you translate the lines of the picture to the canvas. There are many techniques you can use to transfer the lines of the image. One of the techniques is the use of carbon paper. This is a widespread image tracing technique that even a kindergarten kid knows about it.

However, carbon paper requires that you have a canvas, and the size of the image shouldn’t be too big. If you want to work with a larger image, a projector is preferable. However, if you lack a projector, the first thing you can do is create a scaled grid on your image and your canvas. This will help you transmit the image in parts, which will increase the accuracy.

 You will be amazed how your drawing skills make your oil painting project successful. The art of drawing ensures that you get in touch with value, line, and shape without wasting your resources.

2. Have some information about colors

oil painting brush tools

Colors tend to confuse any beginner, and you are no exception. Therefore, a good understanding of color theory is a prerequisite for the production of a high-quality oil painting.

Some of the things you should learn about colors include their temperatures, hue, and intensity. It is a color theory that will help you mix your colors successfully.

You cannot decide on color mixes based on how satisfied your eyes are. For example, your eyes might see it perfectly green when an old blue is mixed with an old yellow and which isn’t. The reality is that every color behaves differently, and therefore you need to understand its properties.

3. Get to know painting media

artist makes a oil painting

Oil paint is one of the mediums that you can use in your artwork. But other media produce a result that your customers will like when combined with oil paint. However, it is guaranteed that you will never get bored of painting with oil paints.

Charcoal is one of the compatible painting media that you can use. Charcoals can be used as a preliminary stage before the actual oil painting. Charcoal comes in many forms, but three main forms are preferred by painters. The three forms include the compressed, willow, and vine forms of charcoal.

Each form has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, willow and vine forms of charcoal are perfect when used as a preliminary to oil painting. They give lighter marks that are easier to erase.

But on the other hand, the compressed form of charcoal is no longer preferred as a precursor because it leaves a darker line that can be exhausting to erase.

Apart from learning about compatible painting media to use with oils, you need to know which accessories to work with those media. Accessories that may be needed include stiff bristle brushes, blenders, and kneaded erasers.

Whatever form of charcoal you will be using in your preliminary work, make sure you have the tools you need to extinguish it. Also, don’t overdo it because the charcoal, although forgiving if used too much, can adversely affect the colors.

4. Make sure you have the materials you need

oil painting materials

You may be thinking about starting oil painting, but do you know what tools, accessories, and materials are needed? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of the supplies, gadgets, tools, accessories, and supplies needed for the art of oil painting. Depending on the brand or type of material, they can be either cheap or expensive.

Here we have listed some basic tools that you must at least have in your arsenal.

Depending on your level of oil painting skill, you may need all of these tools. However, we will assume that you are a beginner, and these tools may be fundamental and make your business successful. The thing to note is that if you don’t need a tool today, don’t throw it away; you may need it tomorrow.

i. Easel

An easel, used to hold a canvas, is the first item you need in an oil painting project. Easel’s many brands make it a challenge to choose the best that best suits your needs. But the most important factor is that you should choose something sturdy that will last for years. Aside from buying a ready-made easel, you can consider making your own out of wood.

ii. Paint brush

The next thing you need for an oil painting project is paintbrushes. Many different brushes can be used in your painting venture. These include bristle brushes, sable brushes, animal hair brushes.

You should make sure you have a few of each brush. However, the more preferred brush is made from animal hair as it gives the best results in handling the pigments and is more natural than synthetic brushes.

iii. Disposable pallets

Disposable pallets are also a must for a successful oil painting. For those who might be confused, disposable pallets are just blocks of wax-coated paper. Disposable pallets have two major works in your oil painting art. They can be used to apply and mix your colors. It is therefore recommended to have several of these. They are ideal and recommended for any starter as they ensure that less paint is wasted.

iv. Paint thinner

Also, not too strong or too smelly paint thinner should not be missing in the collection of accessories that you have to buy. This is for washing your brushes after you finish painting.

v. Masking tape

Masking tape is also required, especially when using a canvas. They are used to mark the extended size of the painting that one is making.

vi. Canvas panel

Assuming you’re a beginner, you’ll need a canvas board. Although you can buy a stretched canvas, the board is preferred because it allows you to practice. You can also create your canvas. If you are unable to make one yourself, it is recommended that you buy the unprimed one. The pre-primed canvas costs a little more.

vii. Metal waste can

Metal waste can also be another item not to be missed if you are about to start oil painting. The trash can is your place to keep all of your painting waste. Your metal trash should be airtight, as things like resins, thinners, and oil pigments are very flammable.

Such materials should be stored in an airtight container, which will not give them the right conditions to spontaneously ignite, the reason you need an airtight metal waste.

Other materials you will need

It would help if you had a color wheel, which is a diagram that shows different colors and how they relate to each other. It is a circle-like diagram that shows the color spectrum and can serve as a basis for deciding which color mixes are suitable.

A brush washer or a good artist soap is also needed. They can be used to wash your brushes and hands after work. Since you are dealing with toxic materials, proper handwashing will ensure that nothing that can attack your body gets near your mouth and eyes after you paint.

Many materials are required for oil painting, but what has been highlighted here is just a minimum that you will need to get the project started.

Visit a store near you and see what they have on their shelves. You can even choose to look on the internet and maybe order some materials to make your business more successful.

5. Have the right perspective

It would help if you also had a painting perspective, something that most beginners lack. The painting perspective helps you stay positive even if the painting is wrong. Sometimes the results can be viewed as bad, but only because they have a bad perspective. Without perspective, it is difficult to determine whether the result of the painting is wrong or right.

It can be no problem to properly translate a three-dimensional image into a two-dimensional canvas with the right perspective. Therefore, it is fundamental to learn perspective first to produce convincing oil paints.

Always follow the existing perspective unless you are trying to invent something new.

Because you are to give it a try, we won’t assume that you have the right perspective but remain optimistic that you will succeed in your venture.

6. Know the painting techniques

There are many oil painting techniques, and you can opt for each technique based on your level of knowledge. Some of the known oil painting techniques include.

i. Wet in wet

It is a painting technique that involves using wet paints on top of layers of previously applied wet paints. It is also known as direct painting, Alla Prima, or Au Premier Coup.

ii. Glazing

This technique usually involves applying a thin layer over an opaque layer. The opaque layer, which is usually the pre-color, affects the visibility of the top.

iii. Dry brushing

Dry brushing uses a relatively dry paintbrush to pick up paint to apply a load to primed canvas or paper.

7. Have a painting concept

A painting concept can help you avoid wastages and save you time in achieving your goal. Without a painting concept, you can end up being a very frustrated painter. Most of the time, you will have incomplete images because you are missing a few steps.

Additionally, a lack of painting concepts can cause you to lose interest in painting. But with some glue, you will have finished, on-time projects. There is no doubt that, without a clear idea of ​​what you want to achieve in the end, you would never start anything arbitrarily.

For example, if you didn’t follow the simple rule of fat over lean while painting, you can get uncomfortable results. The fat-over-lean rule ensures your paint won’t crack, and the only way you can follow this rule is to make sure that the oil painting on top has a higher oil content than the one below.

8. Have strong inspiration

Especially when you are a beginner, you can sometimes feel uninspired because what you are trying doesn’t come out. However, you don’t have to lose focus until you get the perfect result that you are looking for.

There are a few ways that you can increase your painting morale. If at any point you feel like you are losing focus, take a break, walk around and breathe some fresh air, check out what nature has to offer, and then get back to your painting project. You can also add a moderate music system to your workshop, and you will be amazed at how this has a positive effect on your focus, morale, and concentration.


So, there you have everything you need how to start oil painting. For a successful oil painting project, always make sure you have the tools you need, use the right painting medium, use the right technique, have strong inspiration, and focus. You will like what you will achieve in the end. Oil painting should never be a challenge for you again.

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