Oil Painting Supplies for Beginners

Updated: 01 Mar 2021

Tips for beginning oil painting

Below is a review for oil painting supply and materials.

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

Gloves

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).

Note:

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.

Tip:

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.

Keep in mind:

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

Painters sensitive to odors from thinners, and concern about the toxicity of these materials, can use dish soap and water.

Wash the brushes several times, until no paint is coming out of them.

Then, dry gently with a towel and store with the bristles up, to keep their shape.

Dish soap for cleaning brushes Dish soap
Washing a paintbrush Washing a brush
Washing paintbrushes Washing several times
Store paintbrushes with bristles up Storing paintbrushes

Paper Towels

Paper towels are great for cleaning paintbrushes and palette knives while painting, or to open and close oil paint tubes in a clean way.

Another option is to use a cloth.

In addition, you can use them (gently) to remove excessive paint from the canvas.

Palette

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

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.

My favorite is a disposable palette made of impermeable, non-absorbent paper.

Green 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.

Arrange and mix oil paints on a disposable paper. At the end of a painting session, tear off the disposable page, and throw it (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

Canvas for Oil Painting

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

Some prefer to hang oil paintings without a frame.

For that reason, it is important to buy a canvas without pins that connect the fabric to the wood on the sides of the frame, but on the back of the frame (where they cannot be seen).

Cotton canvas for oil painting No pins on the sides
Canvases for oil painting with pins in the back Pins on 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

Tip:

After a painting session, you can mix the remaining oil paints (that are left on the palette).

Use this mixture to paint the sides of your 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 them, is for creating color palettes or color charts.

Paper pads for oil paint Paper sheets for oil paint

Ideas for Paintings

Copyright law protects photographs, drawings, comics and images that you can find on the Internet.

In order to use images to get ideas for paintings or to draw them from observation, use royalty-free images.

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

Some examples:

Pixabay

Unsplash

Pexels

In addition, with some knowledge in linear perspective for beginners, you can learn how to draw from imagination.

How and Where to Sign a Painting

It is customary to sign on finished artworks. This can be done using a synthetic round brush or synthetic liner brush.

For a realistic painting, in 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 on 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.

Examples from my guide for paint brushes

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 a complex painting, it is better to work on small parts of it, and make the task less complicated.

Techniques or painting styles are a matter of personal preference.

From time to time (when painting), remember to move back from the canvas in order to see the big picture.

Where to Go Next?

Once you have some painting materials, it is time to learn how to mix oil paints.

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

To learn more about painting, visit my recommended YouTube painting instructors.