Oil Painting Tips for Beginners: Learn How to Oil Paint

Oil painting can be daunting for beginners, but there are plenty of reasons to take up this enjoyable art form. “Oil paintings have a great mystique and, in the minds of many, the medium is somehow more prestigious than others,” says Greg Albert, author of The Simple Secret to Better Painting (North Light Books) and contributor to The Artist’s Magazine.“On top of that cachet, oils have a tactile pleasure no one can deny. Their pure colors, buttery consistency and distinct scent are a sensuous delight. Oils are well suited for any genre and for almost any style, from quickly executed alla prima to carefully controlled underpainting followed by glazing.

“Oils’ long drying time lets you create paintings with delicate blending, fine detail and textural affects, great for painting portraits. On the other hand, oils’ long open time doesn’t let you make corrections immediately by layering wet over dry paint.

“Oil paints are made from pigments and a binder, traditionally linseed oil, which is pressed from flaxseeds. Oil and pigment were combined and used as early as the 12th century, but traditional egg tempera was far more popular. By the 15th century, Dutch painters adopted oil as their primary medium; it provided far more versatility than egg tempera.”

“The late 18th century heralded the beginning of shops dedicated to the manufacturing of art materials and related items. By the mid-19th century, paints went from being ground by hand and stored in animal bladders to being kept in collapsible tubes similar to the type in use today. The ease of working with paint stored in tubes spurred the movement to look to the outdoors as a source of inspiration.” ~Greg Albert

In Mediapedia: Oils (from The Artist’s Magazine), Albert tells you everything you need to know about how to paint with oil. This article includes FAQs about how to oil paint, oil painting techniques for beginners, and must-have tools for oil painting, plus an overview of the chemistry of oil paint.

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How to oil paint

Oil Painting for Beginners

In addition to being the author of The Simple Secret to Better Painting, Albert is a longtime contributor to The Artist’s Magazine, in which he offers advice to readers and artists about a variety of media from the Ask the Experts column. We’re pleased to share with you this free PDF of his Mediapedia: Oils article, which includes a special section on oil painting tips, must-have tools and info on the chemistry and safety of oil painting.

Learn oil painting tips for beginners

Beginner Oil Painting Techniques:

Learn what it means to paint alla prima, how to glaze and scumble, and get more oil painting tips for beginners.

The Science of Oil Painting and Why You Should Know It:

There are two basic considerations when selecting oil painting brushes: the shape and the fibers. Understand the different options when you read this free article. Know what else you need to paint with oil: supports, a palette and an easel are just the start.

Painters Pallet | How to use oil paint

Oil Painting Chemistry and Safety:

The pigments used in oil paints are nearly the same as those in watercolors and acrylics. Oil paints come in two grades, student and professional, the primary difference being the concentration of pigment or, in some cases, the method of mixing pigment and binder. Don’t miss Albert’s guide to the chemistry and safety of oil painting for beginners.

Oil Painting Tips and FAQs:

What does “fat over lean” mean? What’s the difference between traditional oil paints and alkyd oils or water-miscible oils? Do you need to use a medium when you paint with oils? Get the answers to these questions on how to oil paint, and more!

Once you read these free oil painting tips, you’ll be ready to put paint to canvas.


Plus, along with this FREE download from The Artist’s Magazine, you’ll receive the free ArtistsNetwork newsletter with inspiration for watercolor, pastel, acrylic, drawing media, and of course, oil painting!
Extras include:

• Articles featuring Pastel Journal, Watercolor Artist and The Artist’s Magazine

• Special discounts on instructional books and DVDs from North Light Shop

• Current course information from Artists Network University, featuring classes in drawing and painting

• Free video previews from the newest ArtistsNetwork.tv art workshops

How to oil paint