Oil Painting Guide for Beginners

Oil Painting Guide for Beginners

Most people have the impression of oil painting that it is very difficult and almost impossible for someone to learn if they have no experience in painting. Well, I have a news for you, oil painting is as difficult as any other form of painting. And one more thing, it is very much possible for any rookie to learn oil painting. It is just a matter of time and effort, and not giving up if you fail the first few times.

I have compiled the perfect oil painting guide for beginners. If you are an art enthusiast looking forward to learning the basics of oil painting, you are in the right place.

What Exactly is Oil Painting?

Before you start using your supplies to create an art piece, you must know what exactly oil paints are. So basically, oil paint is made up of dry colour pigments suspended in drying oil. Usually, linseed oil is used for this purpose, hence making it ideal to use for mixing colours while painting as well.

Oil Painting Supplies Every Beginner Needs

Before starting with the guide on how to start painting, i must tell you about all the art supplies that you will need for working with oil paints.

Oil Painting Supplies Every Beginner Needs

The first and the most important thing, obviously, is oil paints. There are many brands of paints available in the market and you can choose whichever one you would like, i do suggest that you opt for a cheaper brand for beginners. As far as colours go, there are some basics ones you need at first and you can create any colour you want using them. These include Titanium White, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue, Cadmium Yellow, and Cadmium Yellow Light.

Other things you need are a variety of paintbrushes, paint thinner or turpentine, linseed oil to as a colour mixing medium and a palette to mix your colours, newspapers to clean brushes, and a charcoal pencil to draw.

Last but not the least, you need a painter’s easel to put your canvas on, and of course canvas of your preferred size, and some messy clothes so you don’t ruin your good ones with oil and paint.

Oil Painting Techniques and Rules

There is nothing that you can’t do while working with oil paints. You can make or create anything, be it a landscape painting or an abstract work. There are just two things or rules you have to keep in mind.

  1. Oil paints are basically colour pigments mixed with oil. The more oil present in the pigment, the fatter it is. You have to remember that fatter paints dry slower. So you must use fatter paint of the top layers as compared to the bottom layers. Otherwise, the top layers will dry before the bottom layers and your paints will start to crack.
  2. The second important thing is also similar to the above rule. Thinner paint will dry aster than thick paint. Hence, you must use thinner paint on lower layers and thicker paint on top layers or your paints will crack.

Once you fully understand the two rules of painting with oils, you can move on to learn about different techniques that are most commonly used. These include the following.

Oil Painting Techniques and Rules


Applying a very thin amount of paint using a stiff brush to create a textured effect. This will leave some of the under painting uncovered.


Applying a very semi-transparent and thin layer of paint on top of a dried-out opaque layer.


Mixing two wet colours to create a smooth transition from one to the other colour.

Alla Prima

This is the wet-on-wet technique where you don’t wait for the bottom layer to dry before adding the next layer.


It is a technique of balance between light and dark colours. Chiaroscuro in Italian actually means “Light Dark”.


Applying paint in a bold and thick manner where the brush strokes are clearly visible.


Monochrome painting style with only shades of grey or greyish tones.

Blocking In

It is the process of blocking in general colours and shapes on your canvas to which you will add details later.

Oil Painting Process

Once you are all set with your supplies and have the basic knowledge of the rules and techniques of oil painting, you can now begin your process of actually putting the paints on the canvas. Let us break it down for you into simple steps so it is easier for you to follow.

Oil Painting Step One

You have to give your canvas a thin wash of a light colour like amber to get rid of the white of the canvas. This is done because it is difficult to paint directly on white.

Oil Painting Step Two

Use your charcoal pencil to draw a very rough sketch of what you want to paint. After that, just block in the general colours just to give your sketch more perspective and structure.

Oil Painting Step Three

Start adding all the big and small details. Make sure you put add different shades of colours to make the painting more realistic.

What to do after you’re done with your oil painting?

What to do after you’re done with your painting

After you’re done and satisfied with your painting. Just let it be. Let it dry out for a few days because otherwise, your paints might crack. The best place to dry your painting is away from sunlight and dust.

Painting is a wonderful way to express your emotions and perspective. The more you get involved in it, the more you will start to enjoy it. We hope that this beginner’s guide from OMG Blog will help you and you will be able to overcome your fear of Oil painting and start following your passion.