When it comes to oil paintings for beginners, with practice and doing, you will eventually develop your own unique style. Your style is a natural development that you are comfortable with and do your best work in.
Oils on canvas or leather are my most popular medium with clients. Most of my commissions are oil paintings, mainly of one or more of Africa’s Big 5 and sometimes a request for a portrait will be included in these paintings.
It is always a good idea to look at other artist’s work for inspiration for different background techniques, color mixing, differing layouts and focal points for your subject matter.
Use all this information in your own work but always be true to your natural instinct.
Oil Paintings for Beginners: Basic Techniques
Painting with oil colors are very versatile, they produce strong, rich colors and are hard-wearing. As a result, they do not need glass to protect the painting when being framed.
Creating oil painting artwork is very adaptable with the artist being able to create freely and expressively with the properties of oil paint. Great for experimenting if you are learning and starting oil paintings for beginners.
Oil paint is a slow-drying medium where the thickness of the coat has a considerable bearing on the time required for drying: thin coats of oil paint dry relatively quickly. The advantage of the slow drying time of the paint is that it allows the artist to manipulate the paint. I do not use a thick or impasto technique but apply my paint thinly and smoothly, which allows for a quicker drying time.
This technique also allows me to roll my paintings on both canvas and leather for shipping as it does not crack but is pliable.
Some artists use a palette knife or apply the oil paint thickly by brush to achieve a texture and movement to their paintings. This technique is very expressive and lively but does take much longer to dry as the layers are much denser.
A recent development in the art world is water mixable oil paint. This is a water-soluble oil paint that contains an emulsifier that allows them to be thinned with water rather than paint thinner. As a result, this allows for very fast drying times. A painting can be dry in 1–3 days instead of 1 -3 weeks as with traditional oils. This can be a huge benefit when an exhibition is looming!!
This also makes it a very easy medium for oil paintings for beginners as it is very manageable.
There is the added advantage of being able to clean your brushes with soap and water. No chemicals needed, which is perfect for those with sensitivity to strong smells and harsh cleaning fluids.
Oil Painting for Beginners: The Materials
Artist Oil Paint
The oil paints I use are from the Winsor & Newton Winton range. They are a high-quality oil color at a moderate price and have a large range of 47 colors, you will be able to find the shade or tint you are looking for in this series.
They come in the 37ml size tubes if you buy them individually. I often stock up with the 200ml tube in the colors titanium white and lamp black, as I use those a lot. If you purchase a set you can get the 10ml tubes in a range of 10 colors.
Water Mixable Oil Color
My water-mixable oil paints are also Winsor & Newton. I selected the range of colors I would need for my wildlife paintings individually and find them really easy to work with. They have the same texture and feel as normal oil paints but I have a bottle of water next to me, instead of turpentine.
I have used normal oil paint over the water mixable oils, but I would not recommend using the water-based oils over normal artist oil paint. It may not adhere properly and create issues in the future.
I have on occasion used graphite pencil over water mixable oils as mixed media. The oils were used thinned down with water to create a smooth surface, and it worked very well.
Because you can mix water with this medium, I have used it like watercolor paints to do the under-painting and used thicker layers to build up other sections of the painting.
For example, in a portrait I did, I left the face as a watercolor effect and made the hair and background a typical oil painting.
It was very effective.