What beginner oil painters need to get started (knowledge, supplies & techniques)

Before picking up the paintbrushes and starting my oil painting, I realised I needed more than oils and paintbrushes. I did a lot of research beforehand and I found it rather difficult to get easy simple answers for what supplies I needed to get started so I hope to list them here for you and explain clearly what they are and what they’re used for.

  • Oil paint is also known as oil colour by many brands, it is the same thing.
  • An oil painting medium is designed to alter the viscosity (its resistance / thickness) & the drying time of oil paintings.
  • Liquin is a commonly used oil paint medium. A small amount of Liquin is mixed in with the oil paint to create a smoother consistency and most importantly, to quicken drying time. I mix liquin in with the paint on my pallet, depending on how smooth or transparent I want the paint. The more Liquin mixed in, the more transparency and faster drying time. It’s recommended not to use more than 1 part of Liquin to 3 parts of oil paint. Liquin makes details such as hairs eaisy to paint as allows the oil the flow more smoothly onto the surface.
  • Glazing is an oil painting technique in which the painter applies a thin semi transparent layer on top of an already dried opaque layer. It helps to shift the tones and hue’s of an area. For example, imagine you have just finished a human portrait and you wished the cheeks had more of a rosy tint. You could achieve this with glazing without having to repaint what’s already there. It’s typically one of the final stages of an oil painting. You will need an oil paint with transparent or semi transparent properties for glazing and it should state this on the tube. To glaze, you will need a layer that consists of mostly medium or oil, and a little bit of the transparent pigment.
  • Gesso, is used to prime a surface. To prime a surface just means to make the surface of whatever your painting on, whether it be paper, canvas or wood for example, is suitable for oil painting. If oils are painted on any normal paper or unprimed canvas, they can actually destroy the surface and absorb into it overtime. Gesso is a bit like acrylic paint, it dries and hardens which effectively creates a foundation for your oil painting to go on which won’t be destroyed by the oil paint overtime. Gesso is white, sort of like a rough white acrylic paint and is great as you can mix in small amounts of different acrylic colour paints and make your gesso a different base colour. For example, I sometimes like to paint on a slightly grey surface so I will mix a small amount of black acrylic with a large amount of white gesso which leaves you with a light grey surface to paint on. You can also buy pre-primed canvas’ or surfaces which solves this problem for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Hand wash! To clean brushes
  • Lots of paper towels
  • disposable pallets
  • different size brushes