For the Beginning Painter: Choosing Oils as Your Medium

For the Beginning Painter: Choosing Oils as Your MediumFor the Beginning Painter: Choosing Oils as Your Medium

So you’ve decided to try your hand at painting. Many beginning painters sign up for art classes at their local community college. There is also excellent instruction to be found online. As a beginner, you will need to select what kind of paint you will use. The most commonly used paints are acrylics, oils, watercolors and pastels. Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages, and each requires certain tools. Some of the tools you can expect to acquire are: paints, brushes, painting knives, palettes, canvasses, rags, turpentine, mineral spirits, etc. Many beginning artists find it helpful to purchase a painting kit that includes all of the basic tools in one collection. A good beginning oil paint kit can be found here: oil paint kit.

Oils carry a long prestigious history of being the medium of choice for the Old Masters. One of the advantages of oil paints is that they dry very, very slowly allowing the artist plenty of time to work and blend colors. Once they’ve dried they can be over-painted without disturbing the underlying layers and their rich, deep colors maintain their intensity when dry. Oils can be used thickly, working with a palette knife, or as a thin, smooth glaze.

A disadvantage to using oils is that they need to be thinned (and cleaned up) with solvents so you must work in a well-ventilated area. Also, they are slow drying so you may have to wait several months to ensure a painting is dry enough to finish with a varnish. They are so slow drying, artists often have more than one (or two, or three…) different paintings going at once, dividing their time between projects.

A relatively new alternative to oils is water-soluble oils. These are made with the ability to thin with water but can still be mixed with traditional oils. These tend to be a little more expensive and brand choices are limited.