Absolute beginner in Oil Paints
7mo
Jo Sheridan
I just can't seem to find a video or blog that goes right back to the start... I can understand tubes of paint, I can understand paintbrushes, but I just can't work out what I should be painting on, what primers are for, whether to stretch or not stretch, when to use linseed oil or Gamsol or all these other additive things - how long things are going to take to dry - can I leave it for a couple of days and just go back to it if its not dry, do I need and easel, should it be upright or can it be flat, am I going to poison myself with fumes if I get it wrong... just a few things I'm not sure about... any help would be greatly appreciated... Jo
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Jo Sheridan
Wow, @tomzandonati @Liandro @Judd Mercer @TeResA Bolen - thanks for all your great advice - I must say I had stumbled across Florent Farges on Youtube the other day and thought he was talking some sense - so it is good to have my instincts backed up by your comments. Liandro, the links to the NMA stuff are awesome - it is so helpful to have some guidance on where to look- as there is so much out there, it is hard to spot the key information. Hmm, so that's it... no more excuses - I have to go for it now - feels a bit scary... Yay!!
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Liandro
Hahah! I'm sure you'll the the hang of it, Jo! Glad to be of help, keep us updated on how your journey unravels. Best of luck!
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Tom Zandonati
Hi! I've been painting with oils for the past 3 years now and had to learn everything I know through online tutorials and experimentation. There's a lot of confusing elements when it comes to oils and the materials necessary. I personally started by looking at the online tutorials by Florent Farges and I would recommend him completely because of how simple he makes it. Even then, I still find myself ignoring some of the key principles/techniques that he stressed as I found my own way of working with the medium (and I'm sure you will too). I personally use 'Sandodor' by Windsor and Newton as my solvent of choice, although there are many benefits to liquin and linseed oil that you should think about and experiment with. If you're looking into those, Andrew Tischler has some great videos on the subject. The great benefit of Sansodor is that it's very non-toxic and doesn't smell at all. Ultimately, your solvent/medium of choice will come down to what kind of painter you are and what effect you're trying to achieve. With surfaces, you really need to think about what kind of painter you are. Stretching canvases is fun and useful, but really isn't necessary if you're just starting out. I'd recommend buying a small, primed canvas and a small primes gesso wooden panel. It's definitely worth getting your own gesso, but again, you don't need to prime your own surfaces. once you have those two surfaces, I'd recommend given them both a go and trying to complete a portrait on them or something. You'll get a feel for the texture of a canvas and how that really makes you think about your application of paint, and you'll also get a feel for a smoother surface that gives you a little bit more freedom and fluidity. Personally, I'll paint on a canvas if I'm doing something very large and I'll paint on a gesso panel if I'm doing something smaller. Good luck with your oil painting journey! I fell in love with it, but it will take time and patience.
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Judd Mercer
Hey Jo! As a beginner, I would keep things simple. Gamsol, paint, cheap canvas along with student-grade synthetic brushes. No mediums or mixers needed. I'd buy rolled canvas if you can and cut small sizes to work on, taped to board or angled drawing table (something you can step back and look at). For learning, you really don't need canvas stretched, in my opinion, and you can always do that later. Plus it stores flat. I would also highly recommend painting small and trying Gamblin "Fast Matte" White. It will dry when mixed in 24 hours so you can't ruin pieces by overworking them. Plus it lets you layer on top. Finish a piece, move on, repeat. Just clean your brushes and palette when you are done. And don't be cheap with your paints! Squeeze generous globs out and use Gamsol to thin as needed. And as others have said, things can get fumey so work in a place with a window and wear gloves. Gamsol can be reused over and over so just dump the dirty stuff in another container, let the paint settle, then pour when clear into a new container. Again, my biggest suggestion would keep it as simple as you can in order to just paint! Mediums and all that can come later once you know what you are after (slower, faster, thinner, etc.)
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TeResA Bolen
Hi Jo. I’m not an oil painter, but I did consider it and did lots of exploration and research. So here a bit of info based on what I found. Oils are going to take days to weeks to dry to the touch, and 6 months to a couple of years to “cure”. There are faster drying oil paints, but mainly they achieve this by using a faster drying additive, also available as a separate medium - and that means that there is less pigment. An important consideration if you are painting in layers with oil paints is the concept of “fat over lean”. The less oil in a layer, the more quickly it will dry. The more oil or “fat” the longer it will take to dry. If you put a thinned out, or paint mixed with a quick drying medium on top of a layer that has a lot of fat, or painted thickly that takes longer to dry, you might get cracking. Slower drying on top of faster drying, and the layers bond together nicely. The fumes are from the solvents used for cleaning and thinning, not the paints themselves, and the odorless kind can be just as dangerous, some say more so. If you plan to use them, make sure you have great ventilation and take appropriate precautions. Some people avoid using solvents altogether, and use oil to clean brushes. Think ancient Roman baths. Another option for easier oil paint cleanup is the water soluble oil paints. I mainly used the ones by Holbein. These have a kind of soap-like ingredient, so they can be thinned with water (instead of solvents) while doing underpainting layers, and clean up easily with conditioning brush soap and water. I don’t know what it’s like now, but in early days I had good luck with this website getting the lay of the land, https://oilpaintingwithethan.com/ The more I hear about NMA the more impressed I am, so as @Liandro mentioned, that’s probably a great way to go. Good luck! I hope this helps a little and you have fun with it!
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Liandro
I found a lot of helpful information here! Thanks for your comment, @TeResA Bolen!
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Liandro
Hey @Jo Sheridan, I'm no expert in oils at all, but I've taken a few classes a few years ago and hopefully my modest feedback can be of some help. Have you tried getting information at you local art supply store already? Sometimes the salespeople can help with some of the basic information, such as tips on use of the materials, types of surfaces to paint on etc. When I studied oil painting back in 2010, I used to buy canvases that came already stretched on a wooden frame because they where practical. I hardly remember using linseed oil because I really loved the feel and texture of the thick paint, but I learned its main use is to function as a thinner to make the paint more fluid and less opaque. I remember noticing that that some colors used to dry faster than others, but in general, oil paint usually takes a few days to dry, sometimes over a week - so yeah, you can leave it for a while and come back later. I always used an upright easel because I found it more comfortable to work on, and it also eliminated the perspective distortions of a horizontal surface. From what I know of your work, I'm guessing it might probably be better for you to work like that too - although, overall, I'd say using an upright easel is not absolutely essential (I mean, look at Jackson Pollock...) Another thing I found to be extremely useful was a sleek surface to mix the paint on (I used a wooden palette which had a layer of "formica" on top, which is sort of a painted and varnished covering sheet). But I've also seen some artists using glass surfaces instead to mix paint. As for the fumes, yeah, I think it's always something to be careful about, but you can reduce the risks by painting in open rooms and well ventilated areas. I remember using turpentine and Ecosolv, which was similar, but had a less strong odor. I think nowadays there might be less harmful options of solvents, so it's always good to do some research and consider what's available to you. And I've found some beginner-friendly courses on Oil Painting at New Masters Academy, maybe you might want to check out: . https://www.nma.art/videolessons/oil-paintings-basics/ . https://www.nma.art/videolessons/introduction-to-oil-painting-for-beginners-part-1-drawing-concepts-review/ Hope this helps! :)
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TeResA Bolen
Brilliant, awesome advice, as always Liandro!
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