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A Beginner’s Guide to Oil Painting- Oil Painting Techniques and Styles

    If you’re a complete novice, oil painting can be intimidating. While it can seem that getting started with oil painting is easy, there is more to oil paints than other paints. During the learning process, there could be some obstacles and difficulties. Firstly, oil paints take a long time to dry. So be prepared to be patient and read up some of the tools and techniques you’ll be using with your oil painting ventures.

    The Basics about Oil Painting

    Oil paints have been used for centuries! It is one of the most popular paints artists use. It has a beautiful texture. There are many different techniques to highlight vibrant hues of the oil paints.

    On the flip slide it is not a easy paint to work with. You’ll need practice to perfect it. Also it requires different chemicals to work with and the fumes that comes with it. But the drawback the you’ll hear most is its drying time. Oil paints takes longer to dry.

    What do you need to start oil painting

    Want to know things you will need for starting oil painting? We have that here for you! Things You’ll Need For Oil Painting

    Gather all the necessary supplies first! An idea of what supplies you’ll need help you to get a clean start. You’ll need the following items to get started with oil painting:

    Oil paints

    Start with just a few basic colors if you’re new to oil painting. Beginner oil painters will benefit from starter sets because they offer a wide selection of colors. Start with the primary colors, white, and black, and gradually add more once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of oil painting. This will allow you to explore more with color mixing, giving you a better understanding of the properties of oil paints.


    It’s a great manner to start with a small collection and then expand after you’ve had a chance to play around with it. Collect a variety of round, square, and fan shapes in various sizes. You can also pick between a beginning kit and specific brushes. The majority of high-quality paint brushes will state whether or not they are suited for oil painting.

    A canvas or a painting surface

    A stretched canvas or canvas board is the greatest surface for oil painting. You’ll need to use gesso to prepare any surface you pick.


    I prefer to line my idea with pencil before starting with a paint. It gives you a beautiful start as you know you can easily correct anything that’s not right in your art. Also, you can skip this if you don’t feel like using a pencil.

    Linseed oil or oil medium

    It’s always better to use an oil medium. Paint straight out of tube is much denser. I find it hard to blend with an intense texture. Mixing it with medium or oil makes it much smoother to blend.

    Solvents (preferably odorless) and/or linseed oil, Turpentine or mineral spirits to thin your paints

    Some artists use solvents in place of medium. It works for the same purpose but with a different effect depending on the solvent.

    Solvents are also used to clean brushes and other painting tools.

    Palette and knife

    A palette helps you to mix your paints on. If you want, you can use a hard surface such as a piece of thick card as a palette or buy one from the sore. And don’t forget to buy a palette knife for mixing! It is better if you don’t use your brushes themselves for this purpose.

    A jar for cleaning brushes

    Isn’t it best to have your workplace organized? A jar helps you to keep all the clean brushes together. It makes your workshop much neater.

    Paper towels and/or old rags

    A paper towel or old rag to clean any messes.

    An easel

    It makes work much more easy.

    Now with that out of the way let’s see the oils, mediums, types and techniques of the oil painting! But before that, what do you need to start oil painting? Let’s start with the paint itself and medium first!

    What’s the oil used in the Oil painting?

    Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder, according to Wikipedia.  Linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil are all common drying oils. The type of oil used affects a variety of characteristics of the paint, such as the degree of yellowing and the amount of time it takes to dry. Depending on the colors and effects required, an artist sometimes use multiple different oils in a single painting. Also depending on the fluidity of the paint, it can be blended into a variety of textures.

    What Oil Paint Mediums do?

    Oil paint mediums come in a wide range of affects and textures. You can use linseed oil, artist grade spirits, turpentine as a paint medium. Choosing the best one to satisfy your needs can be difficult and time-consuming at first. But it’s not actually that hard!

    If you use oil paints straight out of tube, you’ll find it hard to blend. Depending on the medium, the paints can develop a certain consistency. Many of the mediums yield outstanding work, but each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

    Turpentine could be used to thin the paint. Sometimes we use oils or artist grade spirits. Depending on the oil, there are also changes in the sheen of the paints.

    There nothing wrong with experiments! If you’re trying oil paints for the first time, try working a small project and see what works best for you!

    Different options of oil paints

    If you are reading this article than you are new to oil painting and the first thing you will need to start your oil painting journey is the paints itself! Let’s look at the different options that you can choose from.

    Oil Paint (Traditional)

    This kind of dry oil paint is excellent for creating sharp-looking surfaces. These conventional oils would allow you to decide the setting time as you go through the painting process. Walnut oil, poppy seed oil, safflower oil, and linseed oils are examples of conventional oil paints. They’re made of ground dye pigments, oils, and sometimes artists mix mediums.

    You may also use conventional oils with other mediums. You’ll be able to change the setting time with solvents and drying oils. Oil paints often take a long time to dry, giving you the opportunity to go back and fix any errors if necessary.


    • It can be combined with a variety of mediums.
    • Traditional oil paint produces gleaming, vibrant surfaces.
    • It creates a wide range of textures.
    • This type of paint has a shiny, metallic finish that is appealing.
    • It’s great for coatings and textures.


    • Oil paint, particularly traditional oil paint, can be very costly.
    • These colors have hazardous chemical ingredients in them.
    • Some of the medium varieties are a little too dense.

    Water miscible oil paint

    Water miscible oil paints are either engineered or to which an emulsifier has been added, allowing it to be thinned and cleaned up with water. This is easy to use and poses less risk to your health or the climate. The good news is that you can dilute these paints with water, which ensures that all you need for washing is hot water and soap.

    They have the same smell and color as standard oils, but you cannot use solvents or oils with them. They have a different texture from most oil paints and are often too thin or deluted. This group of paints is very versatile and takes a long time to dry, allowing you to make adjustments and fix errors.


    • Water miscible oil paint is not harmful to your health.
    • It is easy to wash and clean.
    • This is a very cost-effective oil paint.
    • Before it dries, this color gives you enough time to adapt and make adjustments.


    • Oil paint that can be mixed with water produces a variety of gloss levels.
    • For the better performance, you’ll need to use a varnish.

    Alkyds Oil Paints

    You can combined these paints with other oil paint and always dry with the same amount of time. Alkyd is a type of artificial medium paint made from resin binder and alcohol. We use an alkyd oil paint to speed up the drying process. It is a paint-modifying formulations to provide thinning or thickening, glossy or matte finish, faster or slower drying time.

    You can also use alkyd oil paints either with a liquin medium or in combination with other oil paints to produce excellent effects. However, since it contains hazardous chemicals like turpentine, this form of paint is not completely safe for the environment or your health.

    Although you can mix alkyd oil paints with other types of individual paints, doing so will incur additional costs. Alkyd oil paints are very costly to purchase and preserve. Cleaning these kinds of oil paints is often difficult, as it necessitates the use of mineral spirits.


    • This paints have excellent adhesion properties.
    • A lot of mediums may be used in alkyd oil paint.


    • This paint is hazardous to the atmosphere and one’s health; protective clothing is needed.
    • It’s not cheap.
    • This paint will leave the surface looking messed up if it isn’t applied properly.

    Oil Sticks or Bars

    This style of oil paint is available as a stick or a bar. Several ingredients, such as safflower and linseed oils, are used to make oil bars or sticks. These oil bars and sticks are more like oil pastels made of mineral oils that do not dry.

    A protective coating or skin forms when we apply oil bars and sticks. You can mix oil bars with other oils and solvents to thin the paint to make modifications to the painted surface. Oil bars are smooth and simple to deal with and come in a variety of colors. You can use oil stick on the same surfaces as oil paint as these are often suitable for beginners as oil mediums.


    • This oil sticks are simple to use.
    • These bars produce the same effects as most oil paints.
    • This style of oil paint comes in a wide range of appealing shades.
    • This is a medium that can be used in a variety of ways.


    • For the better results, you’ll need to apply a varnish.
    • The paint will melt if exposed to too much heat.
    • The adhesive properties of this medium are weak.

    The paint dries after around 24 hours. You can then clean it with soapy water or even baby wipes. With no unwanted odors, use this commodity with other mediums and oil paints. These paint sticks are self-sealing, meaning that once dry, they form a protective coating that keeps the color vivid and long-lasting. If you choose, you can quickly strip this film and add a more durable varnish instead.

    Beginner Oil Painting Techniques

    Many well-known artists have presented their great artwork in oil paintings. These oil paintings are their art classics. These have passed down from generation to generation. Beginners sometimes face immediate confusion when they first begin working with oil paints for its different types and techniques. If you’re a novice, the following part is a must-read since it covers the fundamentals of oil painting.

    Alla Prima

    Wet painting, or wet-on-wet painting, is a great technique. Many artists like it because it allows them to complete their masterpieces with only one session of painting. There is no need to waste time waiting for each sheet to dry. Wet painting is a form of painting where we apply a layer of paint on top of other before it gets dry. We are applying wet paints on wet paints. This oil painting style is ideal because it allows you to complete your project quickly rather than waiting weeks or months.

    Before the general public became aware of Alla Prima, many artists would spend a lot of time waiting for each layer to completely dry before moving on to the next. This is due to the fact that some of the artists will add up to 40 layers before calling their work done. Furthermore, oil paint can take days, weeks, or even months to dry completely. As a result, the Alla Prima technique has revolutionized contemporary oil painting.


    Artists perform glazing in such a manner that the layers are separated from one another. This method differs from Alla Prima where we wait for each layer to dry before proceeding to the next. Glazing is layering various paint pigments. This is due to the fact that each glaze is a thin film of opaque oil paint.

    Make sure the colors you select are consistent with the layers you’ve created below. Keep in mind that whether you want a vivid altered result, you don’t have to glaze every sheet. You may also give a contrast effect to your painting by leaving it until the end.

    Glazing is the way to go if you want a piece of art with a variety of colors that compliment each other. Instead of shielding or installing layers to conceal other layers, you’ll have a lot of space to show off your skills. When exposed to light, this vibrant layering effect can shine softly, so make sure to use several layers from start to finish.


    This is an oil painting technique in which the first layer serves as the base. This will serve as the foundation for the rest of your art, upon which you will create various layers. This technique encourages you to paint your patterns on top of a one-color base coat. This method of painting is the most effective for incorporating tonal and contrast values into a concept from the start.

    This technique is basic, but you must be careful when using it because the consistency and result of your artwork are dependent on it. We use purple, yellow, and blue foundational colors in at least three methods in underpainting today.

    The purple layers apply to the warm layers that are applied later in the painting for depth and shadows. Yellow underpaintings are appropriate for landscape or nature scenes, and are thus based on a warmer color scheme. Blue underpaintings are great for making the art feel darker and more striking. They make colors that clash with one another.


    You can do this technique by applying color and a little softness to the art by using a small amount of paint at a time. This is a dry-brush technique that requires a stiff-bristled brush. There is a more gradual transition between tones, which improves color blending. This painting technique can be used to create designs such as fog, rain, and so on. It’s the most effective way to lighten gloomy areas by giving them a blurry feel.

    Scumbling is unusual in that it applies paint in a patchy manner, highlighting the uncovered parts of your artwork. Acrylic and watercolor paintings also use this technique.


    We use this technique in two ways: you can render a thicker layer of your paint to emphasize brushstrokes and textures, or you can use it to highlight finer and subtler textures and features while doing delicate brushwork. You can apply this technique to various elements to your designs, such as shadows, shading, and so on.

    If you’re going to use this strategy, make sure the paint is dark enough. On the surfaces, the brush and roller painting markings should be clear. You may also blend the oil paints directly on the surface or canvas to improve the texture. The more texture you add, the more realistic the effects will be. You may use this approach to bring out fine details and create three-dimensional effects.

    Blocking In

    This is a technique that focuses on laying out the color scheme without relying on the minor specifics. Blocking in works by painting the canvas with general colors, objects, and forms. When you’re just getting started, this strategy will help you get a sense of where the drawing is heading. When doing this technique, use big brushes and thinned paint for the better effects.

    Start with a toned-down version of the key color you’d like to block in. This color’s intensity can be increased later in the drawing. Make sure you don’t use too much saturation when blocking in your painting; otherwise, it can become overwhelming. It will take a long time for you to tone it down again. And after the painting is completed, you can find that some of the blocked-in areas are left exposed.


    This is the perfect way to combine both dark and light tones into your art, giving it a more vibrant and dramatic impact. It gives your artwork a sense of scale by providing the illusion of light. This technique can also be used to apply illumination to specific objects and figures in the painting, creating a spotlight effect.

    This is an excellent example of a prominent artwork element that contrasts light and shadow. This approach was used by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and other notable artists to refine their painting styles. Light must be aimed from a single source by using this technique.


    There are two types of this technique: brunaille and verdaille. Verdaille refers to paintings in green tones, while brunaille refers to paintings in brown tones. This is a one-of-a-kind art technique that is often used for neutral pieces in various shades of gray. We can use this technique as a base stage for any form of painting you choose to do.

    Grisaille is to create the underpainting of the artwork, after which you can use the glazing technique. It is not commonly used nowadays, but it was popular during the Renaissance era for imitating sculptures.

    Graille, also known as the glazing oil paint technique, is a form of painting in which opaque layers are layered on top of or painted over a single colored underpainting.


    It’s often used with a soft brush to make transition from light to dark shades. This is your best bet if you’re hunting for a strategy that can get your colors together. It will cause your colors’ tones and shades to blend gradually, resulting in finely detailed and natural outlines. This method is ideal for creating a hazy or smoky effect in your project.

    The presence of layers heightens the gentle impact, resulting in softer shapes. This technique is most often associated with earth tones that mix well together to provide amazing depth. Apply each coat of paint with a clean, gentle paintbrush for the best results. As a result, the results will be soft and smooth.

    Keep in mind that varnishing the oil painting will help it last longer. To guarantee that the varnish treatment goes well, make sure the painting is fully dry. Before you may add a topcoat to an oil painting, it must have dried fully for at least 6 to 12 months. Have fun with oil painting and make sure you’re using the right technique for your project!

    Tips for the beginners

    Knowing about the paints, tools and techniques isn’t all it takes to start. You will need some other tips and tricks to organize your works so your art place won’t be messy. It will make your progress much easier.

    Here are few tips that will make your journey easier:

    Get the correct oil painting equipment


    Quality paintbrushes, in addition to your color palette choices, are essential for oil painting. This does not imply that you should go out and purchase a large collection of the most costly brushes. A small set of up to three or even five various shaped and sized brushes is useful. Then w ith all paintbrushes, you can buy loose or single brushes when you need a replacement or a specific size.

    Oil painting can be done using synthetic brushes, or genuine hair paintbrushes, which are more expensive. When it comes to oil painting, hog hair brushes are the most preferred.

    Now, what brushes will be the best? check this out! The Best Brushes for Oil Painting


    Oil paints can be costly, especially when seeking for a renowned or professional brand. However, there are several excellent solutions that are both inexpensive and suitable for starters. These can come in sets or as single paint tubes, much like your paintbrushes. When considering how to utilize oil paints, it may be more cost-effective and convenient to buy a comprehensive set that includes all of the components at once. This has the added benefit of being less expensive in the future if you need to top up one or two colors.

    Palettes and easels

    While easels and paint palettes aren’t generally considered essential, they do have their benefits, especially when working with a slow-drying paint like oil. Using an easel will allow you to sit or stand more easily while painting, as well as provide a safe place for your painting to rest and dry between coats or layers. There are also smaller table easels that come in handy if you prefer to take your work with you. Playing with colors and combining different tones will be easier with your paint pallet. These are normally made of plastic or wood, but there are also ceramic choices that are very easy to clean.

    Arrange a safe work environment

    When working with oil paints in your home, you must exercise caution. The solvents used to dilute the paint and clean your brushes are hazardous, and oil paints themselves have a strong odor. Locate a location outside or in a room with plenty of airflow. When handling paints, latex or nitrile gloves are recommended, as some contain hazardous chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin.

    Organize your work area

    The first step in creating your own art studio at home is often overlooked. This is critical because you must ensure that you have not just the appropriate materials and tools for the project, but also the appropriate space. This could be in a brightly lighted area in your house or even outside under a shady tree. When dealing with oil paints and solvents, good ventilation is essential. Also, make sure you’ve covered the floor with a drop cloth or an old sheet to avoid a mess. The oil will be difficult to remove from the fabric.

    Start with a small project

    When we start a new project, we often become excited and want to go all out on the first try. While this is a personal preference, many people find it easier to learn anything new by starting small and not taking on too much at once. Take your painting steps one at a time until you feel confident enough to begin a larger job with more elements.

    Understand your materials

    It’s important to pay attention to the chemicals in your oil paints when dealing with them. While most oil paints are manufactured with natural, non-toxic materials, many still contain solvents, and a few even contain very poisonous turpentine. Because both solvents and turpentine are highly flammable, it’s best to work in a well-ventilated area away from any potential fire sources.

    Try new things every now and then

    Experiment with several methods on different surfaces and a smaller canvas to see which ones you prefer and which ones you need to work on further. Once you’ve found your stride, you might even start dishing out your own oil painting advice!

    Prime your canvas

    There’s one step you shouldn’t skip while learning how to paint oil on canvas. Oil paint is thick, and if you don’t use gesso beforehand, the oils will soak into your canvas or other surface. This not only affects the appearance of your finished artwork, but it can also cause the canvas to degrade over time. Gesso also makes it easier for the paint to adhere to the surface.

    Some canvases and boards come with gesso already applied, but if not, you’ll have to do it yourself. Gesso is a chalk, gypsum, and pigment mixture that comes in acrylic and rabbit-skin glue varieties. Gesso takes about an hour to dry, and you’ll need two coats usually.

    If you’re looking for best surfaces for oil painting check The Best Surface For Oil Painting out!

    Make a sketch of your painting

    You’re ready to begin the oil painting procedure after you’ve prepared your canvas. When working with oil paints, it’s typical for painters to start by applying a thin wash of the color that would be the painting’s base color to the canvas. Then, using pencil or a light coat of black paint, they rough draw the prominent shapes, lines, and focal points into the canvas.

    Paint in layers

    You’ll need to build up the paint and color after you’ve prepped your painting. After that, you’re ready to start mixing colors. Use the same color mixing rules for oil paints as you would for other pigments. By adding solvent or linseed oil to the paint from the tube, you can thin it to achieve a distinct effect.

    The “fat over lean” guideline is one of the fundamentals of oil painting. This keeps oil paint from breaking once it dries or taking forever to dry in the first place. The “fatter” the paint is, the longer it will take to dry. To avoid cracking, you should always apply leaner means thinner paints first, beneath the fatter means oilier layers. How long does it take for oil paint to dry? It can take three months or longer, depending on how thick it is.

    Oils, Solvents, and Chemicals

    We cannot mix oil with water. This is no different when using oil paints. You’ll need an oil mixing medium to thin your paint properly, clean your brushes, and apply specific techniques properly.

    Other oils, such as linseed, walnut, or safflower oil, are commonly used as mixer mediums with oil paintings. These are safer, more natural solutions that will give your work a beautiful, glossy sheen.

    Some prefer stronger solvents, such as paint thinners and turpentine, but they are significantly more dangerous and you have to handle without protective gloves or a mask. To avoid over-applying chemicals or solvents to your real painting, which will chip away at it or cause the surface to bubble, keep track of how much you’re using.

    Keeping your brush clean

    You can build a good habit to clean your paintbrush after you’re finished painting with any media. But did you know that cleaning while painting or in between coats while using oils is also beneficial? This is to protect and extend the life of your bristles, as well as to give your painting a gloss. Cleaning your brushes with a mixing medium or artist soap is one option. Cleaning your brushes with solvents is effective, but it can also harm them and eat away at the casing and bristles.

    You can keep your solvent and possibly some water in two small cups or containers with you while painting, just like with other paint mediums. After dipping your brush in the medium or solvent, wipe it clean with a paper towel to remove the paint. Then combine it with water in a cup, rub it into your artisan soap, rinse, and dry. This will ensure that your paintbrushes endure a long time.

    Adding a frame to your oil painting

    You can choose whether or not to frame your oil paintings after finishing it. The advantage of choosing a frame with a glass element is that your work will be safe and less likely to be destroyed. If you don’t want to use a glass frame, you can use a fixative spray or sealant coat to protect your artwork from smudging and damage over time. The problematic thing about oil paints is that each layer in your work can take up to six months to completely dry. So, until it’s ready for this phase, keep it somewhere safe where it won’t rub up against anything.

    The Bottom-line

    So, How to start Oil Painting as a Beginners? The first step is to familiarize yourself with the paint and the surface you’ll be working on as well as the oil medium you’ll be using. Since oil is a naturally dense paint, you can thin it by mixing it with other paints, the possibilities for oil techniques are endless.

    When you first begin, be careful and keep in mind that it’ll look better when you’ll paint in layers. Now worried about what Techniques would you use? underpainting, impasto, blending, and other methods are also possible for oil paint.

    Create a place where you’ll paint and gather all things you’ll need. Now whenever you get an idea you can start painting!

    Try out some of these techniques! see what works best for you. Just be patient and don’t hold back your creativity or imaginations!

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