Oil Painting Supplies
Oil Painting supplies and painting equipment are important but don't rush out and buy up the shop straightaway. Oil painting doesn't have to be expensive unless you intend to sell your work regularly. Even if that is your goal there are tips here to save you money. Let's start with canvas, the all important basis of your oil painting. As a beginner or intermediate I recommend you use pre stretched cotton canvas boards. Sometimes referred to as box canvas. They are inexpensive and readily available. Many stationers stock them along with art shops. They are usually stretched by hand and already primed with gesso or acrylic. Primer is the medium we use to separate surface from oil paint. It provides 'tooth' which simply means it helps the paint stick to the surface, helps to prevent cracking and makes the painting long lasting. If you want to stretch your own then you will probably be best served by purchasing a canvas roll. Art shops online and off stock this. I no longer stretch canvas unless I am fortunate enough to be working on a high spec commission. In these cases I use very expensive linen canvas and have someone far better than I am at woodwork to construct a frame. The price makes my eyes water just thinking about it. You are probably not at this stage yet. Save your money and time until you are.
A lot of my work is done on artboards. Stiff, inflexible boards made by Reeves. They are really student quality but if I'm say, designing a greeting card, they are ideal in terms of price and quality. Think about each work you do in these terms and you'll never feel ripped off by pricey art shops.
For oil sketches and practice you can't go wrong with canvas paper. Winsor and Newton and DalerRowney make it along with other well known companies. It is tough and takes a lot of paint. When you begin practicing my Ten Oil Painting Techniques, using canvas paper will actually give you a lot of confidence. You will not be concerned about wastage because the expense per sheet is low. Get an A4 or A3 pad and have fun with it. Always have fun without fear when painting and drawing. Making mistakes is fine. In fact it is more than fine. Every goof is a mini lesson in how not to do it. Believe me the art police won't come knocking on your door every time you get it wrong.
If you have any scrap wood don't throw it away or burn it. Paint on it. Get a tube of acrylic paint, (I use white but you use what you want) Paint two or three coats on it , let it dry thoroughly and slap some oil paint on it. The effects can be very exciting. The more you use paint the easier it gets. You're the boss. Paint is inanimate. It only does what you tell it to do. Practice, practice and practice,
For oil painting I use natural hair brushes, sable and hog. Hogs hair is good for thick paint and sable for thinned down. I also keep a few synthetic brushes because some of my methods can be quite rough and natural brushes are more expensive hence I don't want to ruin them. You can, of course, use only synthetic brushes if you prefer on grounds of pricing or because you're heavy handed. There are some good synthetics out there. Prolene for one. Use whatever you wish. It's more important to develop your skills first.
I mix and match Winsor and Newton with Daler Rowney. Here is my list: 2 inch Flat. 1 inch Flat, Half inch Flat - #1 and #3 filbert - size 12, 6 and 4 Round, and Size 0 and 00 for details. I also have a nice Winsor and Newton Monarch 1 inch glazing brush I use exclusively for varnishing. A two inch good quality decorators brush can come in handy for blending large areas too.
You may want to buy a set of Georgian or similar brushes if you are a beginner. Please visit an art supply shop before buying online. It's better to get a feel for what you buy that way. Make sure all the brushes have perfect bristles. And please, if buying a single brush that doesn't come packaged, don't allow some disinterested or distracted shop assistant to shove your precious purchase in a bag without protecting the bristles. I've had this happen to me and it makes me go Nuclear!
I bought an easel in 1987 and have used it when painting outdoors ever since. Indoors I tend to prop my canvas or board on a drawing table. I find this works for me but if you want an easel, go to a supplier and only get what's appropriate for you. Make it as sturdy as a church door if you are planning to work outdoors. Ensure it has a carrying strap and a drawer. You'll also want something to sit on. A fold up chair works for me. Studio easels go for less than twenty pounds and I've seen tabletop easels at fifteen pounds but haven't used one so cannot vouch for them. Whatever your choice make sure you are comfortable because if you aren't addicted to oil painting yet you sure will be.
Here we go. The good stuff. The liquid that makes the magic. I only use Winsor and Newton Oils. I've always found them to be consistent, long, long lasting and brilliant in colour. Winsor and Newton also make different types to suit different budgets and I have used each type so have a fair knowledge of them. My favourites are from the Artists Oil Colours range. I use a limited palette but you should get as many colours as you like. (Please note I use the word palette here to describe the paints I use not the receptacle I mix paint on). My choice of colours comes from years of mixing practice. You may not want to spend ages trying to recreate yellow ochre when buying a ready to use tube is an option. Just for information I use, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium deep red, Cadmium yellow pale, Viridian, Emerald Green, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Zinc White and Ivory Black, the black very, very sparingly.
Winsor & Newton Artists Oil Colours
These are the most expensive. They contain high levels of pigment and are very well made. There are 120 colours in various sizes. The advanced user will certainly want to use these for their high quality and brilliant results.
Winton Oil Colour
47 colours. Good quality and cheaper than Artists colours. Great for beginners, students and people who use a great deal of paint yet want to limit the amount of money they invest. Dry to the touch in 2-12 days. (Please note: this does not mean you can varnish a painting after this short period. All oil paintings need at least 6 months thorough drying time)
Griffin Fast Drying Oil Colour
50 colours, not all transparant so take this into account if you decide to use them. Dry to the touch in about 24 hours.
Water Soluble Oils
I use Artisan Water Mixable Colour and have prepared a separate page to talk in more detail about these remarkable paints which can be a boon in your oil painting supplies.
No, not the Stephen King novel. Paint thinner. I use Refined Linseed oil to dilute paint. It maintains slow drying which suits my natural pace. If I am in a hurry I use Liquin original, again from my favourite supplier W&N. It halves drying time but gives similar results. For underpainting I use white or mineral spirits. Occasionally turpentine.
If you decide to use Artisan Water Mixable Colour use Artisan Water Mixable Stand Oil
You will no doubt have seen palettes and probably already own one. There are no rules regarding this. I have never owned one. I mix paint on a ceramic plate that I occasionally clean with white spirit but more often simply scrape the hardened paint off. If I have excess paint left on the plate at the end of a session I stand it in a bucket and cover it. This keeps the paint wet for the next day.
Cleaning Your Brushes
Clean brushes with white spirit and a few drops of linseed oil. I have always cleaned this way and own several sable brushes that are over fifteen years old. Pour a little of this mix in a plastic bowl. Scrape excess paint off the brush with a cloth or old newspaper then dip the brush gently in. Wipe it carefully in one direction against the bottom of the bowl until the paint has gone. Make sure there is no paint in the ferrule which is the metal ring between handle and bristles. Soak excess spirit off on your newspaper and store the brush upright.
The final job. A coating of varnish protects the painting from dust and other airborne nasties. Only apply after 6 months, more if you can. Here's how I do it
1 Your painting should be dust free. Hopefully you will have stored it where little dust can reach it but if not use a soft duster to remove it.
2 Place the painting completely flat. Get the varnish ready in a shallow dish and have your varnishing brush at the ready. As stated above I use a W&N 1 inch monarch brush but you can also use a high quality decorators brush if you prefer. Please don't spare the pennies here because the last thing you want to be doing is fishing for stray hairs on your pristine varnished surface.
3 Apply a coat with horizontal, overlapping strokes from top to bottom. I recommend a second coat 24 hours later.
4 Clean your brush with white spirit
5 Stand back and admire your work. 24 hours later your painting is finally finished.
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