Oil Painting Techniques

There are several different methods or oil painting techniques for doing an oil painting, and probably as many variations to those as there are artists. We will be exploring some of these. I suggest that you follow along, explore these techniques, and then apply the methods that you feel works best for you.

General Painting Tips

  1. You might want to first sketch in the basic shapes to start.
  2. Start painting the shapes and forms and not objects.
  3. Try using the middle ground color for each shape.
  4. Squint your eyes to eliminate the details. This is a good idea whether you are painting from a photo, or from life.
  5. Cover the whole canvas evenly.  Do not concentrate your efforts to just one area.
  6. Use paint slightly thinned with solvent to lay in the basic shapes.
  7. Start with the largest brush that you feel comfortable with, on the size of the canvas you are working on. Then, progress, gradually switching to smaller brushes as you proceed with the painting.
  8. Stay loose; at least in the beginning stages.
  9. Start painting in the shadows.
  10. You can then continue by painting in the lighter colors and highlights.
  11. Remember to use light to show dark, and dark to show light.
  12. With oil painting we generally paint in layers from lean to fat. Lean meaning with solvent added. Fat means to use a medium.
  13. Variety is the spice of life. It also goes for painting. Try to have some variety in the various elements of the painting; in color, shape, and size.

Brushwork For Oil Painting

Learn to use your brushes. Practice the various brush strokes so that your brush strokes become second nature to you.  Each brush has it’s own special characteristics. By knowing how each brush reacts with the paint and the canvas, we can become more proficient in our painting. For oil painting techniques, you should try not to use the brush like a pen or pencil, except possibly for adding detail. Learn to hold the brush out towards the end away from the ferrule. And the motion should come from your arm movements.

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