11 Things You Need to Get Started in Oil Painting

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Inspired by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Raphael? I mean, who isn't. While most of us will never paint like the masters, it's an awesome challenge to try out their medium.

On the other hand, oil painting supplies don't come cheap. Here's the lowdown on what you really need.

Paint

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You'll need oil paint, obviously. But what type, and what colors? First of all, make sure you're buying oil paint and not water-soluble oil paint. (The later is a great product, but not what we're talking about here!) Then, look for these shades:

Necessary

Titanium white, ivory black, cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light and cadmium yellow.

Not vital, but nice to have

A smaller tube of phthalo blue is helpful, but it's a fairly powerful color so you probably won't need a large tube. A couple of greens, such as viridian, and some nice, earthy browns such as burnt sienna, burnt ochre, raw sienna and raw ochre are also good to have.

Brushes

You don't need to break the bank and buy every single type of brush when you're just getting started with oil paint. Once you start painting, you'll quickly learn what shapes and sizes of brush you like best. Just grab a few round brushes in small, medium, and large sizes for now.

Turpentine or mineral spirits

With oil paint, you don't clean your brushes in water; instead, you use a paint thinning solution. While "turpentine" is a catch all phrase for this substance, these days, mixtures of odorless mineral spirits are a common substitute.

A jar for cleaning brushes

This is how you'll store your thinning solution and clean your brushes as you go. A jar with a coil inside (sometimes called "silicoil") is ideal. You can fill it with your turpentine or mineral spirit mixture, and gently rub the bristles of the brush against the coil to remove excess paint. Look for one at your art supply store.

Linseed oil or oil medium

Many beginners get confused about the difference between linseed oil (or oil media such as galkyd oil) and turpentine or mineral spirits. Like the mineral spirits, linseed oil will dilute oil paint. However, it's a softer solution that you can use to thin out your paints without losing their texture. You'll use linseed oil almost like you would use water to thin watercolor paint.

Newsprint or rags

You gotta dry off those brushes after you clean them! Cloths are great for this, but depending on how frequently you're changing colors, you may get more mileage out of a good 'ol newspaper.

Palette

You don't need to be a bearded European artist to use a palette. Really, it's just the term for the surface upon which you mix your paint. It can be a large piece of glass or ceramic, or even a disposable book of palette pages sold at art supply stores.

Be sure that it's large enough for what you're doing, though. You want plenty of room to mix colors and "spread out" on the palette without feeling crowded. A good rule of thumb is to have a palette space that is about half the size of your finished canvas.

Painting surface

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When you're ready to paint in oil, you'll need something to paint on . Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't have to be canvas. As long as you prime your surface with gesso, you can actually use just about anything.

Pencils

Some painters prefer to do their "sketch" in paint directly on the work surface, but others prefer pencil. Since oil paint is opaque, you can use a soft, broad-tipped pencil such as a charcoal pencil and then paint right over it with no harm done.

Easel

Many, but not all artists, prefer to paint with an easel. It's not required, but it may help you from hunching while you paint. If you're just getting started, try to find one secondhand or an inexpensive tabletop option. The real deal can be expensive, so make sure this hobby sticks before investing.

Painting clothes

It's inevitable that you'll get spotted with paint at some time or another. So don't wear anything that you don't want to start looking "artistic" when you are painting with oils! You've been warned.

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11 Things You Need to Get Started in Oil Painting