Introduction: Oil Painting

Art comes in many different forms. In this instructable put together by siblings, Debbie and Michael, you will be able to express your self artistically and creatively. Our goal is to encourage anyone interested in art to start creating! We hope to motivate you to boldly express yourself, take risks, and open to trying something new.

In this short instructable, you will learn how to oil paint from start to finish by following the process of painting our pet bunny, Golden, in our garden.

If you liked this instructable, please vote for us in the Oil Contest! Thank you and we hope you enjoy!

- Debbie and Michael (freshman in high school)

Step 1: Supplies You Need

1. Oil paint: I use Winsor & Newton Artists' Oil Colours, a professional line of oil paints. There are many other great brands out there, but I am pleased with Winsor & Newton because it is affordable, reliable, and mixes well. Note: It is not recommended to mix pure oil paints with water mixable oils!

Some common and useful colors:

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • French Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Titanium White
  • Winsor Green
  • Ivory Black

2. Brushes: Using quality brushes is important in creating incredible paintings. Your paintbrush should be able to hold its shape when the paint is applied and must be able to return to its original shape after use. I recommend investing in good brushes (I use Robert Simmons Titanium Filberts), for low-quality brushes will fall apart and shed hair. Depending on what you decide to paint, it might be useful to have brushes of different sizes and shapes.

Some brush types:

  • Flat
  • Filbert
  • Round
  • Bright

3. Palette Knife: Palette knives have a long, straight blade that is used for mixing paints, scraping a palette, and painting. A good palette knife is Trowel style, 2" rounded point - Steel.

4. Grey Matters Paper Palette: Many artists use grey palette paper because it does not reflect light, unlike white palette paper. This will make it easier to judge the true color of the oil paint.

5. Paper Towels, Old T-shirts, Tablecloths, Rags: 100% cotton ones work the best because they have no lint!

6. Storage Boxes: Will be useful in storing mixed colors in the refrigerator and paint tubes in a closet!

7. Mediums: In order to make the oil paint flow more smoothly, you will need a liquid to mix with the pigment. Linseed oil or Liquin Mediums should work great!

8. Grapeseed Oil: Will be needed to preserve mixed paints that will be stored.

9. Canvas: Stretched or unstretched!

10. Odorless Turpenoid by Weber: Turpentine is a paint thinner that can be mixed with linseed oil to create a medium. It is also used to clean brushes and remove paint.

11. The Master's Brush Cleaner: Soap used to clean and preserve brushes.

12. Cling Wrap: Put over paint that is to be preserved.

Step 2: Prepare Ideas and Select Images

Maybe you have always wanted to paint a photo of something you had taken... or of something someone else took, or perhaps something from your imagination! Think of something you would like to draw and paint, gather images, objects, computers, and whatever else you need and put it somewhere close to you where you are able to view it but also not have it be in the way while you are creating art!

Step 3: Set Up Your Palette

Once you know what you are going to paint, open up your palette paper pad and squeeze out small amounts of oil paint along the sides of the palette. It is more convenient to place the paints along the palette's border so that you may mix the paints in the middle.

Step 4: Using a Palette Knife

Typically, oil paints aren't mixed with brushes. This is because paint mixing with brushes damages the brush's bristles. Additionally, it is more convenient and efficient using palette knives!

There are many different types of palette knives. Some are made of metal, others plastic. Some have rounded ends, some have sharp ends. To pick up paint with a palette knife:

1. Cut out a section of paint with the edge of the palette knife as if you are cutting a roll of butter.

2. Make all the paint sit on the backside of the palette knife. You do not want paint on the front side of the palette knife. Having paint on the front will make it hard to mix paint.

3. Place the paint somewhere in the middle of the palette where there is space to mix paint. Apply it on the palette as if you are spreading frosting on a cake.

Do not add any mediums when mixing the paint. You need thick paint when mixing colors, thin paints will not allow it to maintain its shape. Clean the palette knife with a towel or rag whenever needed.

Step 5: Mix Colors Together

Scoop up other colors and mix them together!

Things to keep in mind:

1. Remember to use the backside of the palette knife to mix the colors.

2. Put pressure on the knife to pick up the paint, this will help mix the paint.

3. Do not use the tip, side, or bottom part of the knife to stir the paint, doing this will not be effective.

4. If paint gets onto the other side of the knife, flip it over and scrap it off onto the palette paper.

Step 6: Finding the Right Color

After you have mixed some colors together, compare the color you mixed to the object or photograph. As you can see, the yellow color I mixed does not fall anywhere close to the color of my bunny's fur. My color needs to be closer to brown.

Here are some helpful questions that may help tune your colors:

1. Do you need to change the lightness/darkness?

2. Do you need to change the temperature or tone?

3. Which color are you trying to mix? There are many colors on an object, an object does not just have one color.

*It is okay if it takes awhile! You will master it by practicing and training your eyes!

Step 7: Tuning Your Colors

The yellow I had for the bunny's fur had too much yellow. Therefore, I had to dull it down. First, I added some burnt umber to make it less yellow and more brown colored. Then, I mixed a bit of French Ultramarine (blue) to make the color closer to grayish yellow (remember red and blue makes green!). Lastly, I added Cadmium Red Light (red), making the color more brownish orange (remember red and green are opposites).

Step 8: Making Different Shades of Color

Once you have the color you want, mix different shades of the same color. In this photo, I added white to my gold color.

Step 9: Using a Palette Knife Correctly

If you're still unsure how to use the palette knife correctly, it is demonstrated in these photos.

Step 10: Mix Other Colors

Mix more colors! Try to mix as many as you can and need. Here I have mixed a red for the color of my flowers, and 2 shades of brown for the bunny's fur.

Step 11: Transferring Palettes

After you have mixed your colors, it will be helpful to transfer your colors onto a new palette and remove any leftover paint that you may still use from your original palette.

Step 12: Preparing to Paint

Once you have a clean palette to work with, gather a small amount of medium (Linseed oil, Liquin Medium, etc.), onto the palette or into a small cup. Lightly dip your brush into the medium so that the tip of the brush is slightly oily.

Step 13: Start Painting

As shown in the photos, mixing your medium with the oil paint will thin the paint. You may use as little as needed to achieve your goals. Lastly, in case you make a mistake on your canvas (as demonstrated in the photos), you may use a paper towel/cloth to wipe it off. In order to do this, the painting must still be wet and must have a bit of medium in the paint and on the paper towel.

Step 14: Finish Your Painting

YAYYY you have finished your oil painting! Oil paint may take awhile to dry; slower or faster depending on the thickness and color of the paint. I usually give my paintings one week to dry.

Step 15: Preserving Paints

Don't want to waste the color you mixed? Well, adding a small drop of grapeseed oil into each blob of paint will help preserve the oil paint!

Step 16: Storing Paints

Place your the palette pad with your paints into a storage box. Then, seal the paint with plastic wrap to prevent the paint from touching other surfaces or items. It may be stored in a refrigerator for at most 1 week.

Step 17: Removing Oils and Paints From Brushes

Now it is time to wash your brushes! Once you have emptied out the Ordorless Turpenoid by Weber into a leak-proof glass jar, lightly press your brush against the side of the jar. Color in the brush will push out of the hair then sink to the bottom of the jar. Continue squeezing until no pigment comes out of the brush.

Step 18: Washing Brushes

With The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver, wipe your brushes along the soap's surface. Under warm water, lightly squeeze soap and any remaining paints or oils out. Lastly, let the brushes dry!

Oil Contest

Second Prize in the
Oil Contest