A Basic Guide to Oil Painting




Introduction: A Basic Guide to Oil Painting

hey, this is my first 'Ible so any feedback is welcome, that said I will be showing you how to start working with oil paint. I am a college student and have learned painting from some of the very best teachers and I have realized that not many People know how to use oil paint and many more consider it quite difficult. This is far from the truth, oil is very forgiving due to the artists ability to paint over mistakes with little or no noticeable effects on the finished painting.  Today I will take you through my Process finishing a painting inspired by the work of artist Alex Grey. 

The first image is the concept for the painting 
the Second is the painting i did based off of the first image 

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Step 1: Getting Started

Get your work station set up, Mine is a little bit...bad but its an old cabinet door from ikea that a friend got for me since he works their but it doubles as a makeshift light table and painting surface. I buy paint from Michael's because I like the way the blend when wet. any way I like to start with a printed concept image (picture 1) I went over the major lines of the image in sharpie to add emphasis on them when I put the printed picture on the light table.  the second picture is my work area complete with paints and what not. the third image is the printed picture on the make shift light table,  I put plain white paper over that and traced to create a hand draw version of the printed image which I will base the painting off of (image 4)

Step 2: Drawing

ok now that we have our hand drawn version I like to add detail to the drawing with a sharpie so the lines for tracing are nice and dark (image 1).  After we have added any kind of shading or detailing that we want take this new drawing and Transfer it to the Canvas using the light table (picture 2). many people do not need to draw on their canvas but i find it Helpful both compositionally and it keeps everything nice and organized. picture 3 is the traced picture on the canvas ready for painting. 

tip: keep the pencil lines on the canvas as light and as sparse as possible because the graphite tends to mix with the paint 

Step 3: Starting to Paint

ok now that our image is traced on to the Canvas we can start to lay in the first coat of paint. I start with the background of the painting and work my way to the subject later on. picture 1 is the image with just the background laid in. picture 2 is with some of the detail around the head laid in. 

For the tone effect on the background i let the paint dry a bit, while it was still wet i used a stiff brush to blend the different paint colors together to give the background a smoother look.

picture 3 is with more detail of the head area laid in 

To give the flame the blended look i painted a heavy layer of the red core area as seen in image 2 and then when the paint was still wet i threw in some yellow and light orange to create a blended orange color. 

Step 4: Painting the Subject

the subject is the most important piece of the Painting as that is what people will look at first. that said color, blending and detail are very important. picture 1 is the base coat of the subject area, the bronze color is a mixture of brown and orange. Start with the base color and lay it in as needed. then mix a darker shade of the base color and lay in the shadows and shaded areas of the painting to create depth and directionality of light. remember to blend the base color and the shade with a stiff brush like before with the background. Then move on to the lighter tint created by adding white or yellow to the base color (picture 2).  once again turn to your stiff brush to blend the colors together and eliminate any hard lines and create a more seamless color transition. Finish by adding detail (picture 3). 

Step 5: Finished, Almost

Now all thats left is signing your painting, do so in a color similar to the background but different enough to stand out. You do not want your signature to be gaudy enough to take away from the image so sign in a corner or somewhere else out of the way. After that all thats left is to clean up. 

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    4 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice painting. Generally, sketching in pencil for an oil painting is considered by some to be bad technique if you are talking about professional oil painting because the graphite of the pencil shows through and is considered by some to be mixed media (pencil and oil, not just oil). If you are talking old school technique, sketches are done with yellow ocher as it dries the fastest without tracing. Of course such rules are meant to be broken, and it is the result that really all that counts. I'm not really sure anyone follows the traditional old school methods anymore anyway.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    thank you I look forward to this kind of feed back because I'm a college student professors tend not to teach the classical methodology but rather the method that gets the best results, and I have been told the Yellow ochre technique before and i do use it often i just tend to use it when its the university's paint not mine