Starting out with oil painting

When it comes to oil painting, it can feel like you have to wrestle through a full-time chemistry study before you can make your first attempt. This video is for absolute beginners, or those who want to reset their process.

When I wanted to take my oil painting process more seriously, I started looking on the internet for more information. I read forums, blogs, watched videos, you name it. And I’ll be very honest with you; I quit. My mind was just overwhelmed with way too much information about the right kind of paint, the ideal primer and the perfect medium. All of them leading to the one rule that rules them all; fat over lean. I watched nice people explaining their process, and I’ve watched aggressive bullies venting about oil paint being superior. 

And the end of the road I was tired as fuck. I went back to the nice people of the online art community who messed around with acrylics and mixed media and that was that for a while.

I recently picked my oils back up. And it was a bit of a thing, because you can’t undo that experience. I now have a few more years of painting under my belt, and maybe that’s why it’s easier to process a lot of the information that overwhelmed me at first.

I’ve created this video as a recap of my own experience, but also as a response to some of the questions that I see in the art communities online. It’s important to me therefor, to know what else you would like to know. Did I miss something? Do you want me to clarify anything? I like making videos that are part of a conversation, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

An overview of tips in this video

Why can information about oil painting be so overwhelming?

– There can be an idea that oil paint in the ultimate way to paint. Or the best / most professional way to paint.
– Oil paint is old and has a long-standing reputation. Some of the best artwork in our history have been made with oil paint
– There are some voices in the online oil painting/art community that tend to gatekeep their passion. They are very vocal about their process. It’s possible that this attitude takes the fun out of practise for you.

How can I structure the information I need for my learning process

– Avoid people who tell you that oil paint is superior to anything else
– Avoid people who claim that this one thing is the Only Way. Don’t let people close doors for you that you want to explore.
– Don’t expect to continue on the same level that you left off in your previous medium. Learning a new medium will almost always mean taking a step back. 
– Strip down your workflow to the most basic techniques you can handle.

What I think you need to get started with oil painting?

– Control your budget. Practice with materials that are comfortable to your purse.
– Forget about longevity. Practice for the sake of practicing, not for a finished artwork.
– Forget about medium. A medium adds something to your process. The only way to know what to add, is to undergo that process in its basic form.

– Work on oil paint paper (homebrand) or budget canvas on a roll that you can cut in sheets. Avoid stretched canvas.
– Start with one color (black, umbers, or a color if you prefer) and Titanium White.
– Get a round and a flat brush, exclusively for oil paint. 
– Make life easy on yourself and get the two tubes of paint in a water-soluble variety. It makes cleaning much easier and leaves more time for practicing.

More beginner tips

– Don’t put too much paint on your paint. Oil paint goes much further than acrylic.
– Apply your paint thinly. Your first layers will feel dry. This is normal. Applying paint thinly avoids creating a slippery mess.
– Work your paint by rubbing it a bit. Oil paint needs a bit of helps spreading.
– Correct your work by wiping or scraping off areas. Don’t paint over areas that are wet to correct them.



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