Thursday, 30 July 2009

What Art Materials Do I Need for Oil Painting?

The beginner in oil painting does not need lots of oil painting materials or to spend lots of money. In fact, great oil paintings can be completed by the use of a minimal amount and cheap oil painting equipment. All that is required is careful preparation and shrewd shopping.


Art Equipment for Oil Painting

Many artists use numerous oil painting tubes, which is fine, but the beginner can obtain any colour by merely three primary colours and white. Additional colours will come in handy if the artist does not wish to keep mixing colours to obtain a particular blue or red. Earth colours are also great for adding atmosphere and for monochromatic painting.

Primary Colours

The true primary colours are not any red, yellow and blue, but are the colours found in printing ink, which are magenta, cyan and yellow. The true primary colours do not exist in pigment, for a little impurity will always exist, but a close approximation can be achieved. Personally, I have found permanent rose, pthalo blue and cadmium yellow (pale) to be close to the mark, and include them within my painting palette.

Cheap Oil Paints

Briefly, oil paint is graded into two types: artist quality and student quality. The artist quality include organic pigments, which make them more costly. Personally, I have found student quality to be perfectly suited to any oil painting and I have used them extensively. However, I always stick to a recommended brand such as Winsor & Newton or Daler Rowney.

Recommended Oil Painting Pigments

I use the following pigments for my paintings without the need for lots of other pigments:
  • A large tube of titanium white
  • Permanent rose
  • Cadmium red
  • Pthalo blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Cadmium yellow (pale)
  • Lemon yellow
  • Viridian green
  • Burnt sienna
  • Burnt umber
Oil Painting Brushes

It is important to have good quality sable brushes for detail and blending. Avoid cheap brushes that have no springiness to the hairs. Round sizes 1, 3, 6 and 10 will suit most oil painting purposes. Bristle brushes can be purchased from DIY stores, but cheap ones that moult onto the painting must be avoided. Flat or round sizes 6, 9 and large is ideal for covering large areas and impasto techniques.

Oil Painting Surfaces

Wood, canvas, card and even paper make suitable surfaces for oil painting so long as they have been sealed with an acrylic primer or gesso size. I use acrylic polymer primer, a water based paint that dries water resistant, that can be purchased from art stores. A two coat application is all that is required, and because it is water based, is odour free and brushes can be washed in warm soapy water. Cheap ready stretched and primed canvas and art boards can also be obtained with shrewd shopping.

Painting Mediums

Household turps must never be used for oil painting for their powerful odours and harshness to the brushes. Low odour artists white spirits or Sansador or Turpenoid is better. Linseed oil is useful for thinning the paint and adding lustre to the colours. Exploration with other artists's mediums will result in interesting effects. Impasto medium is an alkyd based medium that can be added to oil paint to add bulk for impasto techniques. Liquin is a quick drying alternative to linseed oil, and leaves a matt finish.

Other Art Equipment

Tool boxes with tiered drawers are ideal for storing oil paints and brushes, and can be purchased cheaply from DIY stores. A table easel or drawing board will make oil painting easier. And any non porous item is ideal to use as a palette. A china plate, varnished wood, or even cling film stretched over a surface.

The measures described will make oil painting easier, cheaper and more convenient. Further advice on oil painting materials and step by step oil painting demonstrations can be found on my websites on oil painting.

Useful Links on Oil Painting Materials