At Jackson’s we are often asked for advice on what you need to get started in oil paint, by those who would like to treat a certain loved one who has expressed an interest in oil painting, but has none of the tools to get started. So the hunt commences: baffled people not necessarily ‘into’ art, trawling through the internet trying to work out what exactly is required to get started in oils. Let the Jackson’s Art Blog save you time and money (and a lot of stress!) and give you a 5 minute guide to everything you need to know about oil painting.
1. Oil Paint
The most exciting present a beginner could receive is a shiny set of beautiful new oil paint tubes. Once you begin to browse through oil colour you will soon discover that there is a huge price range which reflects the difference between beginner paints (less pigment saturation, tend to be thinner) and professional colour (more saturated, and longer lasting). We suggest a student or beginner oil paint range such as Pebeo XL, Daler Rowney Graduate or Sennelier Etude for absolute beginners. You can use these paints in all the same ways you might a more expensive paint, including making glazes, or applying with a palette knife.
Here’s a video about how to make glazes with Daler Rowney Graduate oils: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upxa6XLMCtc&list=PLi86B3jOHkDZ81FSVR60v-qw-_1rmgz4y&index=52
For people who have had some experience of painting, perhaps in watercolour or acrylic we suggest that you pay a little extra and get a good quality range of paints that will trying inspire. Perhaps the Jackson’s Artist Oilsor Winsor and Newton Artist Oils?
At the absolute top end of the oil paint selection oil paint brands including Vasari, Old Holland, Michael Harding and most recently, the Jackson’s Professional Oil Colour range. These are the finest oil paint brands available today and are best suited to those who have experience in oil painting. Only buy if you really love the recipient!
Hog brushes are ideal for beginners and are the most traditional type of brush. The very finest hog brushes can be more expensive but for the beginner you can try one of these very affordable hog brush sets. Hog brushes can be used for thin glazing effects as well as more impasto effects.
Jackson’s Black Hog brushes are often recommended to customers by our telephone staff because they are very attractive (and therefore are a lovely present to receive), they perform well with a beautiful spring and they are long lasting.
If you’re not keen on buying hog brushes our next recommendation would be synthetic brushes – Pro Arte Sterling Acrylix are a brand often mentioned by professional painters; they have a very loyal following and are a beautiful range of brushes to work with.
If you’re not buying a set but would like to buy a selection of nice brushes, try and get a small round brush for detail work, a large round for bigger round marks, 2 medium size flat brushes and a medium-large size filbert brush. This would be a really good selection to get started with that will be useful for anyone, wanting to paint any kind of subject matter be it portraits, landscapes or abstracts.
3. What to Paint on?
There are special papers, panels and boards to paint on, but if you are learning to paint in oils the chances are you are most excited about painting on the most traditional surface available – the trusty canvas.
Canvas is traditionally stretched over a frame. Painters have the option of stretching canvas themselves or buying canvas ready made. We sell specially cut stretcher bars that fit together snugly to make a very sturdy frame to on which you can stretch cotton duck or linen. Watch this video to see how they work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L1Lom4zZHo. They are available in a range of depths – some artists prefer the overall look of a chunkier (deeper) canvas, others prefer the look of a more traditional standard depth canvas. If you are going to stretch your own canvas we suggest you start by trying with cotton canvas which is easier to stretch. Linen is more expensive but harder to stretch, however the final results are more enjoyable to paint on. In order to stretch canvas you will need a staple gun and canvas pliers to get the right tension.
Once your canvas is stretched, you will need to size and prime it, before it is ready to paint on. This video explains what to buy in order to successfully size and prime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brmMIXtMs1Q&list=PLi86B3jOHkDbOk2PTeVxerYjBg7gtUIDL
The quicker and easier option for beginners is to buy a ready made stretched canvas. The best quality at the best price is without a doubt the Jackson’s Premium Canvas. The boxes of 10 will give you even more discount too!
Arches Oil Painting Paper is a brilliant surface for watercolour painters who would like to try oil painting for the first time as it will feel just like watercolour paper and would ease any watercolourist into the painting process. Here’s some more information on Arches oil painting paper:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj4WnLxUr6I
We sell many DVDs presented by professional oil painters who demonstrate how they paint their pictures – they cover a multitude of subjects from portraiture to landscape. Andrew James’ DVD about painting portraits is fascinating and would be a great source of inspiration for any oil painter. Click here to watch a trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj4WnLxUr6I
There are loads of other inspiring clips on our YouTube channel here http://www.youtube.com/user/JacksonsArtSupplies?feature=watch as well as trailers for DVDs by Townhouse (http://www.jacksonsart.com/Brands-A-Z_All_Brands-Town_House_Films/c2200_1044_1110/index.html) and APV (http://www.jacksonsart.com/Brands-A-Z_All_Brands-APV_DVDs/c2200_1044_9672/index.html) that we sell.
You may also wish to browse our ‘Oil Painting Books’ section here: http://www.jacksonsart.com/Art_Departments-A-Z_All_Departments-Books_for_Artists-Painting_and_Drawing_Books-Books_by_Media-Books_on_Oil_Painting/c2129_2128_498_25062_25177_25197/index.html.
5.Final Bits and Bobs
OK, you have your brushes, paints and canvas. What else?
A lovely traditional wooden palette on which to mix paints – these will make your loved one feel instantly like Picasso! Alternatively if you’re going for something easier to use/clean, you could get a tear off palette.
A palette knife is useful for applying paint as well as mixing colours on your palette whilst avoiding getting a brush loaded with paint unnecessarily.
If you are buying conventional oil colour then you should buy a solvent which which paints can be thinned, and brushes and surfaces can be cleaned. Turpentine is traditional yet possesses heady fumes. While it is more expensive, staff at Jackson’s tend to favour the citrus smelling, environmentally friendlier Zest-It Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner (to learn more about this product why not watch this video about it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbKPne4e1Rc), or, if you’re looking for something stronger, the Zest It Solvent.
Once the painter starts to become more confident they may want to make a medium with which to paint – a basic medium is a mixture of linseed oil and solvent. Over at Jacksonsart.com you will find many ready mixed mediums that will help extend colour, alter sheen and possibly consistency.
This video made by Winsor and Newton shows all the different drying oils they offer for use as oil painting mediums: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVXuYAT7YjI&list=PLi86B3jOHkDZ81FSVR60v-qw-_1rmgz4y&index=10
To learn more about the different oil paintings thinners and mediums by Daler Rowney watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnTWkyaIC-I&list=PLi86B3jOHkDZ81FSVR60v-qw-_1rmgz4y&index=2&index=2
Easels are another thing to consider buying – we’ll look at these a little more closely in their own post at another time.
For more wonderful oil painting gift ideas please visit our special oil painting gifts page.
Right, now all you need is a whole load of wrapping paper!