Oil Painting Basics

Oil Painting Basics are crucial to creating a painting that works. Oil painting basics include five critical items that are:

Composition, Color, Value, Texture, Edges

I will discuss each item separately and give you more information about each concept.

COMPOSITION is HOW you put your picture together, where you place the different items in the picture. The arrangement of forms, lines, values and other elements in the artwork. It is very important to plan your composition ahead of time before you start the actual painting.

Your main objective in composing the composition is to get your viewer to focus on your focal point or center of interest. This is done by “leading” the eye around the picture in different ways to your focal point.

COLOR is what it is all about. Color is what makes or breaks a painting. You must have harmony in your color usage. You will learn all about color and its terminology later on. If you look at oil paintings dating back to the era of famous oil painters and paintings, you’ll discover the important role that color plays.

VALUES or shading is how you get the 3-Dimension look in your painting. This is what gives you your “depth” illusion. One way of getting this depth is by overlapping objects in your picture. I will be showing you many ways to achieve this by using different values in the painting.

TEXTURE is what you do when you paint from thin to thick paint with oils. You can use thicker paint in the more important areas of your painting to give your painting a textured look.

EDGES are where two paint colors meet in a painting. You will learn to soften these edges. There are hard and soft edges in a painting. Hard edges are used mostly around the center of interest or focal point. If you look at the post “The Origins of Oil Painting”, you’ll learn a lot more about how the edges were softened.

Before you paint

You need to be prepared with some knowledge and skill at DRAWING and have your supplies ready to use. This page will give you information on what you will need in the way of supplies and some direction or referral to drawing recommendations.

When you initially begin to paint you will need to draw or sketch the scene on a piece of paper or in a sketch pad. This will then be transferred to your painting surface (canvas) to be painted. Many beginners will use a piece of charcoal to do this drawing on the canvas and this is easy to erase for errors as you just rub it off with a cloth and draw over it.

Many artists will advance to just painting their drawing on as they gain more confidence in their drawing abilities. See also “The Best Oil Painters in History”.

The ART SUPPLIES that are needed are as follows:
Sketchbook or drawing pad
Oil Paints
Brushes
Canvas (something to paint on)
Painting Mediums
Palette
Easel or Tabletop
Extra Goodies you might need

If you try oil painting, you may learn to LOVE it!

When I first tried oil painting, I wasn’t sure that I would like this type of painting. I learned on my own from a book on Oil Painting. As I proceeded to paint with oils and learned how to do a painting, I really enjoyed doing it. I enjoyed it so much I would lose track of time!

I have talked to so many people about painting and specifically oil painting and many of those people actually preferred to paint in water-colors. Many of the artists had never even TRIED to use oil paints. I asked some of these artists why they didn’t want to use oil paint and there were several different reasons as follows:

* Too smelly with the chemicals for paint thinner
* Too difficult to learn
* Did not understand how to use the materials like paint and mediums

So many people just went painting with watercolor paints. Now there is nothing wrong with watercolor painting as I use this medium occasionally. but I would just like to say a few differences between oil painting and watercolor painting and to clear up the answers to the reasons listed above.

1. Today you can purchase water soluble oil paints that you use with water to thin with, instead of turpentine. There are several brands on the market that offer these types of paints. Also, there are paint thinners available today that are odorless. There are other products that take the “smell” out of your studio.

2. Once you try painting with oils you’ll absolutely love the wonderful thick colors you can manipulate with your brush on your canvas. You can build up your paint into a texture you can feel with your fingers!

3. Oil painting is easy to learn and extremely “forgiving” medium! If you feel like you made a mistake – just paint over it! With the slow drying process of oils, you can do fantastic color blending on your canvas. There are also some that go on to art college and there are so many Art scholarships available! Amazing.

Others don’t choose the professional track. If you want, you can take a break, and when you come back to the canvas to paint some more, your paint is still wet for more blending magic. There are oil paints with a faster drying time available.