Oil Painting Supplies for Beginners

Updated: 05 Aug 2019

Tips for beginning oil painting


Below is a review for oil painting supply.

While the obvious supplies will be oil paints, paintbrushes and something to paint on, there are other useful products that support the painting process.

Disclosure: some links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.


Latex gloves are a convenient option for painters who want their hands paint-free.

Painters who do not like to paint with gloves can use them for mixing colors, a process that can sometimes get messy.

When washing oil painting brushes, latex gloves can be used to protect the hand while rubbing the brush on it (see below).

Some gloves are lightly powdered to prevent sweating. With these gloves, it is not recommended touching the canvas in order not to leave powder on it.

How to Use an Oil Paint Tube

It is always recommended pressing the back of the tube in order to take out paint and to proceed, as the tube is getting empty.

Pressing the middle of the tube will push some paint backwards, making it difficult to take out paint smoothly.

Oil paint can sometimes be inserted back into the tube by tapping the back of the tube on the work surface.

White oil paint tube Pressing the back of the tube
Green oil paint tube Inserting paint into the tube

How to Reuse Oil Paint

After finishing a painting session, sometimes there will be paint left on the palette.

The paint can be stored in a freezer compartment in order to stop its hardening process and reuse it later.

Oil paints will remain usable for several weeks or more, depending on how well they are sealed.

A plastic box, glassware, aluminum foil, disposable plastic plate wrapped in plastic wrap or any other way, will keep the paint usable, as long as the sealing is airtight.

Some pigments are toxic and should be wrapped properly and kept away from food.

Oil paints in a freezer Oil paints in a freezer
Oil paints in a freezer compartment Airtight wrap

How to Wash Paintbrushes

For painters who are sensitive to odors from thinners and concern about the toxicity of these materials, dish soap and water can be used.

The brushes should be washed a few times, until no paint is left on the paintbrush. Then they should be dried gently with a towel and stored with the bristles up for keeping their shape.

Dish soap for cleaning brushes Dish soap
Washing a paintbrush Washing the brush
Washing paintbrushes Washing several times
How to store paintbrushes Storing paintbrushes

Paper Towels

Paper towels are used to clean paintbrushes or palette knives while painting and can be used to open and close oil paint tubes in a clean way. Another option is to use a cloth.

Paper towels can be used gently to remove excessive paint from the canvas.


Oil paint straight out of a tube is in thick liquid form.

When linseed oil comes into contact with air, a process of oxidation and polymerization begins.

This process is how linseed oil hardens (oil paint does not dry, it becomes solid), and it generates heat.

If you are using paper towels or rags to clean your brushes, there is a chance of fire starting without a spark.

Here is an example of this process: Linseed oil and spontaneous combustion.


A palette is a board for organizing and mixing oil paints.

The palette for oil paints can be made of wood, plastic and other hard materials. A glass palette or a specially designed glass table is easy to clean.

In addition, there are disposable palettes made of impermeable, non-absorbent paper.

Money-saving hack: Old magazines can be used as a disposable palette.

Color mixing palette by Winsor & Newton Winsor & Newton palette
Paper palettes for mixing oil paints Palettes in different sizes

Disposable paper palettes come in different sizes and with different amount of pages.

Oil paints are arranged and mixed on the disposable palette. At the end of the painting session, the disposable page is torn and thrown without having to clean it.

Mixing colors on a paper palette Mixing colors on a palette
Disposable palette for oil paints Paper sheet is torn

My favorite disposable palette is by Winsor & Newton. It has a good size and 50 leaves (pages).

See on Amazon

Canvas for Oil Painting

It is recommended to use high quality cotton canvas. There are also linen canvases that are very expensive.

Since quite a few people choose to hang oil painting on canvas without a frame, it is important to buy a canvas without pins that connect the fabric to the wood on the sides of the frame but in the back of the canvas, where they cannot be seen.

Cotton canvas for oil painting No pins on the side
Cotton canvases for oil painting Pins in the back

Canvases can be painted on their sides for hanging without a frame.

Canvases with painted sides Painted sides
Canvases painted on their sides Painted sides

Remaining oil paints on the palette can be mixed together and be used to paint the sides of a canvas.

Paper Pads for Oil Paint

Supply for oil painting is NOT cheap. Unlike paper for pencil drawing, each canvas is quite expensive.

One solution is paper pads designed for oil paint. These paper sheets are NOT of high quality and not aimed for finished paintings.

However, paper for oil paint is great for training, especially for beginners.

Another great use for these paper sheets is for creating color palettes or color charts.

Paper pads for oil paint Paper sheets for oil paint

Ideas for Paintings

Photographs, drawings, comics and images that may be found on the Internet are protected by copyright law.

In order to use images to get ideas for paintings or to draw them from observation, free images should be used.

Quite a few websites provide free images for use by artists or anybody else.

Some examples:




In addition, there are quite a few websites where high quality images can be bought at a reasonable price. For example:

Jason Morgan - Painter and photographer of the animal kingdom.

Wildlife Reference Photos - Pictures of animals.

How and Where to Sign a Painting

It is customary to sign oil paintings. This can be done using a synthetic round brush or synthetic liner brush.

For a realistic painting, which a signature can ruin its look, it is possible to sign on the back of the canvas, using a marker pen or a technical pen.

Round synthetic brush for signature Round synthetic brush
Liner synthetic brush for signature Liner synthetic brush

In addition to a signature, contact details, such as phone number, website address or e-mail address, can be added to the back of the canvas.

Technical details like canvas dimensions and a date can be added too.

For more info on paintbrushes, visit my guide for oil painting brush types.

Techniques for Oil Painting

Oil painting is a particularly forgiving medium. If something in the painting does not work out, it is possible to wipe it with a paper towel or a cloth. Another solution is to paint over it once the lower layer of oil paint hardens.

Unlike other mediums, oil paints are very easy to mix and therefore create a huge amount of colors and shades. With a limited palette of 5 colors (red, blue, yellow, brown and white), you can mix almost all colors and shades.

Wet on wet or alla prima is a technique in which painting on top of a fresh layer of paint and thus the layers can be mixed with one another.

Wet on dry means waiting for the bottom layer to harden and only then paint a new layer on top of it.

Divide and conquer is a perception that in complex, realistic painting, rather than being overwhelmed by the size of the project, it is better to work on a small part of the painting each time and make the task less complicated.

The experienced painter has the ability to reach the same results in different techniques. Techniques or painting styles are a matter of personal preference.

It is important not to forget, from time to time, to move back from the canvas in order to see the big picture.

Where to go next:

Once you have some supply and equipment, it is time to learn how to mix oil paints.

For painting realism, visit my tutorial on how to paint in a realistic style.

For many art & craft classes by top instructors, check out CreativeLive.