Essentials of Oil Painting

 

Oil painting techniques can feel overwhelming when you're first learning to paint. Although there's a learning curve with all different types of paint, oils can be particularly unforgiving in nature.

These tips could transform your process and breathe new life into your oil paintings.

Are you holding your brush correctly:

There are many different grips on the paintbrush that an artist can use while painting. However, there is one 'go-to' method that every artist should know: to get the most fluidity and sensitivity with your strokes, hold the brush handle as far back as you can.

This might feel uncomfortable at first, but it offers the greatest degree of control because it allows you to paint with your whole arm rather than just your wrist. 

Be the master of your brush:

 

During the process of painting, it can be very easy to forget that your brush has two sides or orientations! You’re not limited to always making wide strokes using the flat side of your brush, as every brush can be turned on its side for sharper lines or strokes. Learning to control your lines with your brush orientation will help you paint faster and with more versatility.

Vary the pressure:

Avoid having 'heavy hands' with your paintbrush. Sometimes the pressure that you apply with a stroke can make the difference between perfection and a mess. The heavier your pressure, the more your paints will blend and create ridges along the sides of your brushstrokes. Get familiar with how your light, medium, and heavy strokes look on the canvas and vary your pressure appropriately to achieve your desired effects.

Oil painting is not solely about the paint. An absolutely essential part of controlling paint is the artist’s use of a painting medium – typically a mixture of solvent and oil used to modify the paint and make it behave in different ways.

Don't Over mix:

When mixed colors first bump into one another, there are tiny inconsistencies in the mixture that help add vividness and interest to your paint. So, when you combine colors to create a mixture it’s important to make sure that you only mix them as much as necessary before applying the stroke. If you over-mix two colors, you will turn your interesting mixture into a flat and uninteresting pile of paint.

Try wet on wet technique more than dry brush:

Remember that you can paint directly onto a wet surface or wait for it to dry and put wet paint over that. Paints will blend on the canvas when working wet on wet which is great for getting transitions or gradients. Painting with a dry brush will give you a more textural effect, which is perfect for painting brick or dirt.

Do you have a palette knife?

The palette knife is not just a trowel that you use to mix paint! It can also be used quite effectively at times to make interesting strokes. A palette knife is particularly useful for making textural and unpredictable strokes – effects that you'd be hard-pressed to duplicate with a brush.

Now get some color on that canvas..and enjoy!