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Beginner's Guide to Oil Painting: Article 3 of 3

Updated on May 10, 2016
carolynkaye profile image

I've been an artist since childhood and work mainly in oils, acrylic and pencil.


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In this third article of my three-part series, “Beginner's Guide to Oil Painting,” I will take you through the entire process of oil painting starting with a prepared canvas all the way to a finished painting.

Using both the ‘lighthouse by the sea’ sketch and the sunflower design that were pictured in Article Two, you will see a series of photos showing a progression of each painting as they were completed.

SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:

To get started, you’ll need your canvas, something to cover your work area, brushes, Refined Linseed Oil or Liquin, oil paints, Permalba, a palette and palette liner, Turpenoid and container, one or two small plastic cups or containers and some paper towels. If you have a painting smock or an old apron, you’ll want to wear that to protect your clothing.

If you’re working with a small canvas, you don’t need too much paint. Squeeze just a tiny dab of each color you need for the area you’re working on onto your palette liner. If you need more, you can add it later.

Put a small amount of your Liquin or Refined Linseed Oil into your small plastic cup or container to keep nearby. Remember, oil paints can’t be thinned with water, so you’ll need to dip your paint brush into either your Liquin or Refined Linseed Oil to help make the paints flow better across the canvas. Just use a little or you’ll over-thin your paints and end up with a translucent effect.

Paint dabs on palette liner
Paint dabs on palette liner | Source
Getting started...
Getting started... | Source

PAINTING 1: SUNFLOWER

In the sunflower painting pictured below, I began by outlining the petals following my pencil sketch on the canvas.

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Once the petals are outlined, I filled them in with a few different shades of yellow and gold. Using multiple shades of one color gives the flower a more realistic look.

You can deepen a color by mixing it with a slightly darker shade. (In this case, adding a deep gold or orange to my medium yellow) To lighten a color, mix it with one shade lighter or add white paint (or white Permalba) until you achieve the color you desire.

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Once the flower petals were finished, I painted the brown center of the sunflower using a brown shade mixed with a little black. Because the canvas I’m using has staple-free sides, I extended the design around the sides for a 3-D effect. This is optional, but I think it gives the painting a unique look.

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Oil paints are very slow to dry, so be careful when painting different sections of the painting next to each other. If you have a problem smearing one color into another, you can always set the painting aside to dry before moving on to another section.

Depending on what type of medium you are using and how thickly you apply the paint, it can take a day, or sometimes even several days before the paint dries enough that it won’t smear. Liquin tends to dry much faster than Refined Linseed Oil.

Also, be careful when handling the painting to avoid smudging the wet paint.

Once the flower was finished, I used a very fine-tipped brush to begin filling in the blue sky in the background.

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At this point, I set the painting aside for a couple days before doing the last touches.

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PAINTING 2: LIGHTHOUSE BY SEA

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For the lighthouse painting, I started by filling in the sky with a medium blue shade.

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When painting a scenic painting such as this, I usually start with the background first (sky, water), and then work on the foreground (rocks and then lighthouse).

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Once I finished a layer of solid blue in the sky, I added a few streaks of a subtle pink before continuing on to the water line on the horizon.

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To give the water a realistic look, I mixed several shades of lighter and darker blue to achieve the look of waves.

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Once most of the water was finished, I moved on to the land section of the painting, using various shades of brown for the rocks and sand.

For shading effects and blending colors, I usually use a rounded edge brush.

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When the rocks and sand where finished, I painted the lighthouse with a fine tip paintbrush and added some greenery around it.

Don’t worry about getting every little detail in at first. Once you have the basic foundation of the painting done, you can set it aside to dry and then come back to it to add more touches of color, shading and fine details.

If you make a mistake or use the wrong color, take a small piece of paper towel and carefully wipe away the section you don’t like so you can paint over it.

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After this point, I set the painting aside to dry for a few days before I went back to add the final touches. To make a painting more dimensional, add a few highlights and shadows with lighter and darker shades.

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CLEAN-UP

When you’re finished with a painting session, you’ll need to clean your brushes so the paint doesn’t harden and ruin them. You can use a paper towel to carefully remove as much paint as you can from the brush, then soak them in Turpenoid to dissolve more paint.

I alternate between a swish in Turpenoid and gently wiping the brush on a paper towel several times to remove as much paint as possible.

When most of the paint is gone, you can use lukewarm water and some gentle liquid hand soap or dish detergent such as Dawn to clean the brush more thoroughly. Be gentle with the bristles so the edges don't get frayed. When the water runs clear, set the brush aside someplace to dry.

When you’re finished with your painting, don’t forget to sign it in oil paint using a fine-tipped brush.

Leave it someplace safe; away from kids, pets, and bright sunlight until it’s completely dry. It can several days to over a week depending on how thick of paint and the type of medium you used.

I hope you've found this series on Oil Painting helpful and are looking forward to starting some more paintings!



© 2012 carolynkaye

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    • lekha 15 months ago

      Read all three articles, was very useful for beginners like me.. thanks a lot.

    • carolynkaye profile image
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      carolynkaye 15 months ago from USA

      Thank you, lekha! I'm glad you liked them :)

    • Anna 12 months ago

      Thanks so much, my grandmother loves to paint and she gave me oil paints years ago for me to paint on my own. I have yet to pick them up but it's a hobby I'm finally going to make time for. I imagine I'll need most if not all new paints as well as everything else so I am very grateful for this post. I had no idea so much went into oil painting.

      Thank you again, very much!

    • carolynkaye profile image
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      carolynkaye 12 months ago from USA

      Anna, Thank so much for your comments. I'm glad you've found it helpful and good luck with your painting :)

    • Pierroz 9 months ago

      Merci je vais essayer

    • carolynkaye profile image
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      carolynkaye 9 months ago from USA

      Merci pour votre commentaire, Pierroz.

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