oil painting materials

oil painting materials

There is nothing like a rich, beautiful oil painting
Oils are the standard of fine art paintings

  • The old masters used oil painting materials for their classic paintings.
Oil painting of "Koi Feeding"

you may have questions about oil painting materials

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what are the best oil paints?

  • Winsor & Newton paints have been the classic standard of oil painting materials since 1830.

Winsor (a chemist) partnered with Newton, (an artist) to produce high quality paints that are chemically sound and beautiful, as well.

They are easy to use right out of the tube. They do not require the addition of any other mediums or thinners.

  • Water-mixable oil paints are popular today for environmentally conscience people.

The paints are thinned with water, instead of solvents like turpentine or mineral spirits.

After painting, it is easy to clean up with only water.

what is the best oil paint for beginners?

  • Winton paints, made by Winsor & Newton are considered the best student paints available.

They have the highest pigment load of all the student paints.

Student paints contain less pigment than the artists' paints, so they are less expensive.

They certainly are good for student learning and practice.

what are alkyd paints?

  • Alkyd paints use the same pigments as other paints combined with alkyd resin.

Oil paint pigments are combined with linseed oil. They take a long time to dry and they dry at various speeds, depending on the colors and the weather.

Alkyd Painting "Beauty and Joy"

Alkyd colors all dry at the same rate with a lovely soft sheen. They dry completely over night or within 24 hours maximum.

They look like and handle just like oil paints. Alkyds may be used for underpainting or for an entire painting.

Griffin Alkyds by Winsor & Newton have been my "oil paints" since the 1980s, instead of the traditional slow drying oil paints.

You may want to start with a set of Gamblin Fastmatte Alkyd Oil Colors.

Gamblin is an American paint company noted for their environmentally friendly products.

Their set of fast drying alkyd paint includes seven selected colors, plus white.

what colors do i need to start oil painting?

A good place to start choosing colors is with the three primary colors; red, yellow and blue.

A warm and cool version of the three primary colors will give you mixing capabilities for any color you want in your paintings.

  • Red - Cadmium Red Light and Alizarin Crimson
  • Yellow - Cadmium Yellow Light and Yellow Ochre
  • Blue - Ultramarine Blue and Thalo Blue

You will also need to add a large tube of white to your oil painting art supplies.

  • Titanium White is the recommended white for mixing and general painting.

what do I paint on?

  • It makes good sense to use the traditional oil painting materials.

Paintings done with either canvas or hardboard panels will last for years. You can hand them down to your children and grandchildren.


Stretched canvas has a wonderful give and feel when you are painting on it.

Canvases come primed with gesso and ready for painting.

Gallery-wrap canvases are popular.

You paint the edges of the canvas that wrap around the stretcher bars. Then the painting may be displayed without a frame.


Hardboard panels don't take up as much space in storage.

Ampersand Gessobord panels have been archivally prepared and are ready to paint on.

Their smooth surface is suitable for fine details and glazing.

Yet they are sturdy enough for palette knife work and heavy paint applications.

canvas boards and paper

Canvas panels are inexpensive and good for practice and student work.

The panels may warp after a period of time.

Paper may be used for sketches and student work. Use a heavy paper like watercolor paper and prime with gesso to keep the paint from soaking into the paper.

what brushes are best for oil painting?

hog hair brushes

Oil painting materials should include the traditional hog hair brushes.

They are sturdy enough to move the oil paint around.

They are good for expressive paintings where you want the brush strokes to show.

soft brushes

Soft synthetic brushes or animal hair brushes are good for smoother paintings like portraits.

Their soft brush strokes don't leave ridges that show and they make blending easy.

You normally would have to thin the paint to use with soft brushes.

how do i clean my brushes?

  • You may need a solvent to thin your paints for painting. Also, use it to clean your brushes between colors and when you finish painting for the day.

You may use a brush cleaner after painting to clean and preserve your brushes.

do i need turpentine for painting?

Turpentine is the traditional solvent used for oil painting. However modern artist use odorless turpentine or mineral spirits.

Gamsol, an odorless mineral spirits is considered the safest for in the studio.

Keep your solvent in a covered container and keep it covered when you are not using it.

When painting is done, clean and preserve your brushes with Master's Brush Cleaner.

Paper palettes are very handy. After painting, roll up the used palette and dispose it.

your oil painting checklist

  • Quality paint
  • Something to paint on
  • Brushes
  • Palette
  • Thinner and brush cleaner

Good light and ventilation in your painting area

These oil painting materials have produced a lot of good paintings for artists over the years.

they will work for you, too!

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