What to Know Before Starting Your Oil Painting Journey

Oil painting is among the most popular artistic mediums and is one that is versatile, archival, and economical. There’s no denying that passion and dedication is necessary for mastering it, but the skill can add real value to your life. 

While oil painting is often associated with Vincent van Gogh, John Williams Waterhouse, and many other greats, the truth is that even the complete art amateur can learn the techniques. Oil painting is for everybody, and whether you’re looking to create realistic art or fresh, contemporary art, this medium is versatile and will be able to meet your needs. 

If you are just starting with oil painting, there’s no need to feel intimidated. This guide will help you with the basic techniques and everything you need to know about how you can start your oil painting journey. 

About Oil Painting 

Oil paints are made of ground-up colored pigment suspended in a drying oil, usually linseed oil. Aside from linseed oil, the oil can also be from the sunflower, poppy, soya bean, and walnut. 

Its quality will depend on the pigments used, the textures of the pigments, and the used medium. 

Since oil paints can be versatile, artists add solvents or oil to measure the color that they desire. Adding these components would affect the thickness of the paints giving that opaque or transparent look that you want for your painting. If you aim and prefer a solid color, oil paint straight from the tube can give you that most stable form. 

Benefits of Oil Painting

What does oil painting have to offer that other art forms do not? Here are a few reasons this art medium remains well-loved today: 

  • It is versatile, allowing you to work with a wide range of painting techniques like blending, glazing, and scumbling. 
  • It is a popular art form among the greats, giving you plenty of sources from which to take inspiration. 
  • It consists of a few techniques mastered well.

Oil Painting Supplies Beginners Should Have

Most hobbies require some equipment, and the same is true for oil painting. You’ll need to obtain some supplies to practice different techniques and learn their unique applications. Here is what you’ll need: 

Brushes - A range of different brush sizes will allow you to use oil paints to create specific shapes, sizes, and edges. It will also allow you to learn the art more easily since you will be equipped with the right tool for whatever you are working on. Both hog hair and quality synthetic brushes can be used for oil painting. 

Easel - Although easel stands are totally optional, they will significantly help you to keep your posture proper while painting. 

Palette - This tool is a must-have, especially if you want to play with colors. Palettes make it incredibly easy to mix and match paints without making a mess. 

Basic Palette Paints - If you’re just starting out and are unsure if you’ll stick with painting, don’t overinvest in your paints. Choose a few colors so you can force yourself to learn how to mix and match. At a minimum, purchase red, blue, yellow, black, and white paints. 

Canvas - A canvas is a surface that you can paint on. Without one, you cannot utilize the beauty of oil painting. Choose between a stretched canvas panel with frames and a canvas board attached to a sturdy surface. 

Odorless Solvent - Solvents are optional for beginners, but if you want to explore the consistency of oil paints, experiment with solvents or oils to incorporate in your colors.

Paper Towel - Paper towels are used for cleaning your brushes and ensuring they don’t drip. However, you’ll also need odorless paint thinner for thorough cleans so there isn’t too much leftover paint in the brushes when you’re switching colors.


Oil painting is an incredibly versatile art medium loved by amateurs and professionals alike. Regardless of your experience in art, it’s well-worth trying. While you may be intimidated by the techniques for mastering the art of oil painting, the truth is that there isn’t too much to learn—it’s just a matter of truly becoming good at a few and translating them to your own style. Once you’ve equipped yourself with the basic supplies, you’ll be ready to begin painting!

Learn a few more oil painting basics with E. John Robinson’s instructional courses that are available in DVD format, digital download, or book on compact discs. These courses will help you understand the science behind the art and allow you to get the hang of oil painting techniques more quickly. Purchase your copy today!

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