Every art teacher has their own opinion on the subject of art supplies, but I'll tell you what has worked well for me. I like to begin with what I already have on hand and so I started my first oil painting class with one of those gift box sets of oil paints and brushes and a Bob Ross paint kit. Those two kits served me well until I knew enough to choose new supplies for myself.
When gathering supplies to begin oil painting you'll need:
Newspaper - to protect tables and floors
Smock or Apron - to protect your clothing
Linseed Stand Oil - to create medium
Turpentine - to create medium and clean up oil paint
Oil paints - red, yellow, blue, black, white
Paint Brushes - Variety of sizes (2, 4, 6) and shapes (Filbert, Liner, Flat, Round)
Wooden Pallette or Tear-off Pallettes - for mixing paints
Two small jars - one with turpentine the other with turpentine linseed mixture
Rags or paper towels - for wiping excess paint off brushes
Canvas - You can gesso cardboard or wood; or, use a canvas board
Table top easel - Makes long painting sessions more comfortable
***Gloves and Low Odor Thinner - I am allergic/sensitive to everything so I prefer to use Low Odor Thinner in place of turpentine and wear disposable gloves when I paint with oils. It's also a good idea to wear gloves when using Flake White paint which contains lead. (We know lead is what made artists crazy back in the day and let's face it, we're crazy enough these days without assistance).
When purchasing oil paints, I recommend Winsor & Newton or Daler Rowney brand because they are affordable and have a great range of colors. When trying a new color, purchase a small tube (22ml) in case you don’t like it. Buy large tubes to replace colors as you run out of them. It's good to have a variety of warm and cool colors and you will learn that certain colors are transparent (Ivory Black) while others are more opaque (Flake White).
Beginning palette of colors:
These are the brushes I reach for every time I start an oil painting. You may notice I have several of the same size and shape, that's because there are times when I use one brush per paint color to keep my colors from getting muddy. Above pictured I have:
Signet Robert Simmons 42, Filbert, 6, 4, 2, 1
ProArte Series B Hog, Filbert 2, 1
Winton, Round Fine Hog, 4
Winton, Short Flat/Bright Fine Hog 4
Langnickel, Filbert 4, Round 2
College Oil Brush, Filbert 1, 2, Round 2, Filbert 12, Flat 12,
Bob Ross Script Liner, 1” Landscape, 2” Background
If you need to buy brushes I would recommend buying these hog hair brushes:
Oil painting takes some time to perfect, but the color richness makes it well worth it. Unlike acrylic and water color painting, oil paints are slow to dry. When living in England I had to wait a full week between layers of paint. You may be thinking what do you mean layers of paint? That's the magic of oil painting, around layer three, the layers of color begin to show through each other creating a beautiful depth and richness. Oil painting is one medium where I suggest you must get a book from the library or take a class. There are so many tips and tricks and ways of using this medium.
One tip I learned in class that I'll share with you involves acrylic paint of all things. It was a one day class painting in the tradition of the Old Masters and he had us begin by painting a greyscale version of the still-life using acrylic black and white. After we completed the black and white acrylic painting, which dries in minutes, we began adding layers of colored glazes over the oranges, bananas and plums. It was like magic as we placed the color and added highlights! So, if you're in a hurry, like me, consider an acrylic underpainting. But, you must never paint acrylic over an oil painting because the acrylic (which is water based paint) will not adhere to the oil (which is oil based paint). You know what they say about oil and water repelling each other!
Sherry Barrett is an active artist who takes inspiration from great works of literature, historical figures, and wise people.