Oil Painting Techniques For Beginners

(Scroll down to see the full list of lessons in this section)

Oil paint is a versatile painting medium commonly used today by contemporary artists. There are different ways in which a painter can manipulate oil paints. The painter can apply it as a thin transparent glaze to imitate watercolor paint in thin washes.

Alternatively, they can mix the paint to a buttery consistency and apply using the paint with a knife in different layers, or the painter can choose to complete the painting in a single sitting.

With the numerous oil painting techniques that are available; all it takes is creativity and patience to apply them in your art piece.

Here, we are going to give a brief overview of commonly used oil painting techniques. You can find out more with the individual lessons listed at the bottom of this page.

Painting on a toned canvas

Many painters find the surface of a canvas or other surface to be too bright. This requires the application of a toned ground for support, which makes it easier to work with and review the values in the painting. A painter can use any color that they wish to tone the canvas.

However, the most popular technique is using paint thinner. You apply the mixture evenly and generously to cover the canvas with a large bristle brush and then let it sit to dry for a couple of minutes before washing off the excess with a piece of cloth.

After this, apply the first stroke using knife painting, ensuring consistency of the paint. At this stage, it is tempting to use the palette knife to paint, however it is notable that palette knives are not the best for painting. Because palette knives are more flexible, come in variety of sizes and shapes, you can manipulate them in a variety of ways by changing the handle’s position.

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Glazing is a technique worth trying for a beginner. This skill gives the painting a different look and gives the colors a more luminous appearance. In this method, you do not mix the colors before application. Instead, you mix them optically using distinct layers of transparent color.

For example, if you want to create a green color background by glazing, you should avoid mixing blue and yellow as a single paint. Instead, you should first apply a thin glaze of blue color, wait for it to dry, then you apply a thin layer of yellow color paint. This will eventually give you the desired color of green.

Ensure that each color has dried before you apply the successive layers. The common first step in glazing is to create a monochromic under painting effect using different values of one color. When you use one color, you will be able to focus on the form and tone first before getting too caught up about color at this stage. This method requires patience and is tricky; however, it is not difficult to master.


This is a painting technique where you apply paint in very thick and succulent strokes which makes the knife or brush marks visible. The right paint to use for this method is paint straight from the tube. Nonetheless, some artists will prefer to use a medium instead.

Oil painting tips for beginners

Here are some tips to consider as you begin as a painter.

• Lay your paints on the palette always in the same order, this will allow you to pick color instinctively with time.

• Increase the proportion of oil in the color with each succeeding layer. This is because layers absorb oil on top of them which means that the upper layers will dry faster than the lower ones which can cause cracking

• Keep away from using ivory black as the under paint because it dries much slower that other oil paints

• Dyes that contain cobalt lead and manganese speed up the drying process. You can mix these colors with others to accelerate drying of the under layers.

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List of Oil Painting Techniques & Acrylic Painting Techniques :

  1. Introduction To Oil Painting Techniques
    There are different techniques used in painting, however seasoned painters or professional recommend that beginners start with using water colors before they can venture into the more intricate oil colors.
  2. Adding Fantasy to Your Canvas Oil Painting
    If you love to fantasize then canvas oil painting is the perfect medium through which you can express yourself. Painting is the form of art which has the capability to give life to natural phenomenon and characters.
  3. Achieving Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal and Curved Strokes in Painting
    An artist needs to understand that there are different kinds of brushstrokes available for use when painting. This is essential in achieving different textures and real life effects within a painting.
  4. Priming a Canvas for Oil Painting | How to Prime a Canvas
    Before you start priming a canvas for oil painting, the stretching bars used must be made of seasoned timber and the canvas must be strong enough to withstand the priming process.
  5. Applying Textures to a Painting | Textures in Oils
    Adding texture to a painting is a skill that any painter would desire to learn. This gives the painting a better perception and artistic creativity to the art viewer. Here are a few ways to apply textures to a painting.
  6. Oil Painting Techniques to Create Soft And Hard Edges
    The terminologies soft and hard edges when used in painting depict two variable ways that one can paint objects.
  7. Flesh Colour Mixing Techniques for Oils | Oil Painting Flesh Tones
    To vary on color concentration of the skin, you may add titanium white to get the faces’ edge, and to enhance the skin’s tone. The biggest uncertainty now lies in the reds, yellows and blues to utilize.
  8. Fat Over Lean Oil Painting Technique
    The fat over lean painting technique is one of the most basic oil painting techniques. This technique can help you avert the cracking of paintings due to the varied durations that the paint takes to dry.
  9. Different Techniques to Apply Oil Paint | How to Apply Oil Paint to Canvas
    Ultimately, the right color choices are the answers coupled with great painting techniques lead to outstanding pieces of art.
  10. Oil Painting Techniques to Create Shades And Forms
    Oil painting is the most practiced forms of art painting since the induction of oil paints into the world market. Using oil paints brings forth flexibility to your painting experience.
  11. Oil Painting Brushwork Techniques for Creating Textures
    Many painters agree that using a paintbrush to achieve a different atmosphere and effect is a difficult skill to learn. However, here are some definitions of brushwork techniques that will help you get started on your oil painting career.
  12. Painting Glazing Over Oils and Acrylics | Oil Painting Glazing
    In simpler terms, painting glazing over oil and acrylics refers to "thinning" a paint color with the use of a gel glossy or matte medium, thus creating multiple layers of glaze.
  13. Oiling Out Even Gloss Technique | Glossing in Oil Painting
    Oil painting is probably the most amazing form of painting in existence. However, there are many aspects that make an oil painting outstanding. Oil paintings are not easy to create, especially when there are various sections that are glossy and matte.
  14. Vanishing Point and Horizon Line in Paintings
    The vanishing point and horizon line in paintings create realistic artistry, especially in landscape painting. A vanishing point is a point in perspective drawing in which parallel lines are not parallel to the image being converged.
  15. Learn Alla Prima Oil Painting Technique
    Alla prima oil painting technique means "at first". It portrays a piece of art that the artist does in just one sitting. Most alla prima artists start by making a rough drawing with only a handful of tones.
  16. Learn Wet On Wet Painting Technique
    The wet on wet painting technique is used to unlock various creative possibilities of the watercolor medium. By using this technique, the painter can explore a natural yet erratic color dispersion and effects.
  17. What Type of Painter and Artist Are You
    There are many terms that a painter can use to declare themselves, or to describe where an artist is on the career path at any time. To make this easy, here are some of the terms used to describe painters and artists.
  18. How to Varnish an Oil Painting
    Variations in the mediums or type of paint used will often result into patches on a painting, some of which may be glossier than other parts, when the painting has dried.

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