Oil Painting Basics: Free Guide on How to Oil Paint

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You'll love these oil painting basics perfect for beginners and compiled together in a FREE, downloadable guide!Oil painting can be daunting for beginners, but there are plenty of reasons to take up this enjoyable art form, which is why we’re offering you a FREE download on oil painting basics!

“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 effects, 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.

Oil Painting Basics 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 basics, must-have tools and info on the chemistry and safety of oil painting.

Beginner Oil Painting Techniques

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

The Science of Oil Painting and Why You Should Know It

Learn oil painting tips for beginnersThere 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.

Oil Painting Chemistry and Safety

Learn about the oil painting chemistry and safety while using oil paints.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!

Oil Painting Tips

Read these oil painting basics in our free guide.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.

New for you! Lessons in Layering: Joshua LaRock offers problem-solving tools for painting luminous portraits in the classical tradition. In this bonus article from The Artist’s Magazine, you’ll also score a portrait oil painting demonstration!

Oil Painting Layering Lessons

Extolling the benefits of glazing, LaRock emphasizes that laying down transparent veils of paint on top of dried opaque layers unifies a painting—and interacts optically, which facilitates a luminous backlit glow (a signature of his own beautiful work). “When teaching, and in my own work,” LaRock says, “I try to break down the whole process into distinct phases which allow for more focused thoughts, rather than trying to juggle everything at once, which is always overwhelming. There is then a set of ideas, or problem-solving ‘tools,’ at each stage that helps with evaluating the accuracy, overall cohesion and harmony.”

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

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