Oil Painting For Beginners – How to Get Started in Oil Painting

One of the most common questions that beginners in oil painting usually ask is how to get started. Well, it is actually quite easy to get started in oil painting. There are a few basic supplies which you required and there are some very basic guidelines which need to be followed. In this article, we are going to be discussing oil painting for beginners. But don’t think that this article is going to teach you how to become a successful painter. In fact, there is nothing and no one that can teach you that. You can only learn the basics of oil painting from others. The rest you have to do yourself.

Many people that are new to oil painting usually have similar questions. So, let’s answer the common questions so that these people can start their oil painting journey immediately.

Oil Painting Supplies

It is obvious that the 1st thing you have to do is to get yourself supplies. But you don’t have to spend lots of money to buy expensive painting supplies. You only need to get the basics right now since you are still a beginner. Your initial aim should be to get used oil painting using your brushes, paints, support, etc. Therefore, if you purchase expensive supplies at this stage, it will certainly be wasted.


You will definitely need support for you to paint on. There are many different supports that can support oil painting but you should start off with a canvas support. Beginners usually wonder whether they require a special priming or coating prior to applying oil paint. In short, yes it does. But you don’t need to worry about it too much. You can purchase canvases which are already primed & ready for use.

Oil Paint

The next thing you need to purchase is paint. Don’t go for expensive brands at this stage. It would just be a waste. There are many good qualities, less expensive paints available which will work just as well for beginners. If you are worried about the hazards that come along with oil paints, you should know that there is an alternative available called water miscible oil paint. Such paints are great. You can even thin oil paint with the help of water and don’t require dangerous solvents such as turpentine.

Oil Painting Brushes

It is very important that you have good quality painting brushes. Even though a good quality paint brush isn’t going to make you a great painter, getting a cheap paint brush will only frustrate you. Try using a cheap brush and you will understand exactly how you will get frustrated. Cheap paint brushes tend to shed hairs consistently and these hairs get stuck in the paint. This is quite annoying. A good quality brush will have stiff hairs on it and should snap into place immediately after you run your fingers through them. They should be sturdy and well crafted as well.

Don’t think you need to purchase too many paint brushes though. You can do just fine with only a couple of paint brushes, flats & filberts. You may consider purchasing a fan brush as well although you may not use it too much. It is recommended that you use hog hair paint brushes instead of synthetic hair paint brushes. The synthetic hair paint brushes are extremely flimsy when it comes to handling oil paints.

It is very important that you clean your paint brushes regularly as well. Never be careless when it comes to cleaning your paint brushes, especially if you own high quality paint brushes. Turpentine is recommended by many painters for cleaning their brushes, but you can also use other products specially designed for cleaning paint brushes.

Oil Painting Mediums

When it comes to oil painting mediums, the most common question is whether the oil paint has to be mixed with another substance or can be used straight from the tube. The truth is that no mediums are required for oil painting but they are quite helpful when used.

Most oil paints tend to be quite stiff when taken out from the tube. That is why mediums are preferred for diluting oil paints and also help the paints flow well. This inadvertently means that you’ll be using lesser paints as well. This means that you’re going to be saving money too.

There are quite a few different mediums which are used various reasons including speeding up paint drying time, increasing gloss, etc. But for a beginner, you really shouldn’t be focusing too much on the medium.


This is an essential section of oil painting. If you do not have appropriate lighting, you may not be able to see colours properly. Natural sunlight is the best form of lighting, therefore it is recommended that you paint outdoors or in a room that is well lit. It is obvious that not everyone will have such an opportunity and if you are one of the people that don’t have the opportunity you need to use lighting which can mimic natural sunlight as much as possible.

This lighting is known as “full spectrum lighting.” There are various different products that can create such light. You can simply search Google for such products.


When you are a beginner, oil painting can be quite hazardous if you aren’t careful and therefore you need to take the required precautions. Ensure you are working in an environment which has decent ventilation & airflow. You should also wear disposable gloves when painting. Always read the manufacturers labels as well and don’t forget to put down some dust sheets!


As you get ready to start off with your first oil painting you should remember that you’re just a beginner. You should focus more on having fun & getting used to using your new painting materials. Don’t try to be too judgmental about your work. If you are, it may lead to unwanted frustration. You might do too well with your first few paintings; you may not do too well with your first 10 or 20 paintings. But this is natural and there is absolutely no reason for you to get discouraged. Oil painting isn’t very easy to master and you need to have a lot of perseverance if you want to be successful.

This post was written by

Khalid – who has written posts on Dust Sheets - Buy online, individual or wholesale quantities!.
Managing Director of Dust-Sheets.co.uk, an online retailer of quality dust sheets for builders and decorators. Dust sheets can be bought in individual quantities or in wholesale amounts for re-sale.

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