Copyright 2011 Monika Murray Art. All rights reserved.
Welcome to my art blog. I hope you'll enjoy the journey
through the wonderful world of art history, oil painting and
other art related topics just as much as me. I write these
articles to express my passion for art and also because I'm
a knowledge seeking individual and I love to learn more.
April 25, 2011
Complete List of Oil Painting Supplies for Beginners
“There is nothing quite like the smell of oil paint and medium, or creating a
vision of reality with the deft stroke of a brush or palette knife. “ (Mark Larson)
Oil paints are the most archival of all paints and the most versatile. They can
provide hours of tremendous painting pleasure and given all the right supplies
and technique oil paintings can last a very long time, maybe even centuries.
Getting the right supplies is the first step in ensuring a positive experience with
this wonderful medium because oil painting can be very frustrating if you’re
fighting through it because of the lack of essential materials. Here are few
things you will need:
- Painting support such as canvas or panel. There are cotton duck
canvases and more expensive linen canvases. You can also choose to
paint on very affordable primed canvas board, masonite board or a bit
more pricey wood panel. Some artists build their own supports from
- An easel. There are some artists that prefer to lay the canvas or panel
on the floor and work in horizontal position but most artists use the
easel. There are several types of easels to use: French easel (used
mostly for outdoor painting), studio floor easel for variety of canvas sizes
and studio table top easel for small paintings.
- Oil paints. For obvious reason this is your most important item on the
list. There is variety of oil paints on the market and two major types are
the student and artist grade. Student grade paints are very affordable
and more than adequate for a beginner painter.
- Oil painting medium. The simple medium consists of odourless
mineral spirits (OMS) or turpentine with addition of any type of drying oil
such as linseed oil. There are ready made mediums available at the art
supply stores or you can prepare your own. The simplest and leanest
painting medium is 5 parts of turpentine or OMS (odourless mineral
spirit) to 1 part of linseed oil. It’s not advisable to use only a turpentine
or OMS without addition of drying oil because of the risk that you might
over dilute the paint and cause the paint to become under bound. That
means that the paint won’t adhere to the canvas or panel properly.
- Solvent. Artists use straight solvent for cleaning brushes in the middle
of the painting session if they want to switch between colors or for
cleaning the brushes after the painting session. There is more than
one type of solvent on the market. Turpentine is the strongest and the
most popular solvent but because of the odour some people decide
against it. If smell is a problem to you, you can pick up odourless
mineral spirits (OMS). Even though it is odourless it should still be
used with caution and in the room with adequate ventilation. Just
because you can’t smell it, does not mean that it’s harmless.
- Brush cleaner. Not essential but useful. When I first started out I
dipped my brushes first in the solvent and then used regular
dishwashing soap for cleaning. It worked okay but I wasn't completely
satisfied. When I heard someone recommend Master's Brush Cleaner
I decided to give it a try and I haven't looked back since. It's very simple
to use and cleans very well without mess or need for solvent. Worth
trying if you can fit it in your budget.
- Oil painting brushes. There are many different kinds of brushes on the
market, some more affordable than others. Most stores supply painting
brushes for oils and also for watercolour and acrylic. Oil painters have
a choice between natural and synthetic bristle brushes. Most synthetic
brushes handle rough oil painting environment very well and keep their
shape and size with no problem. With natural bristle brushes the
choice is usually between soft hair sable and hog bristle. Sable is the
most expensive oil painting brush and best used for detailed paintings
on smooth surfaces. For more vigorous painting on a rough canvas
you probably better off with hog bristle as they are more resilient and
able to hold a lot of paint.
- Charcoal pencil for initial drawing. This is not essential but useful
especially for a beginner painter. Some artists choose to do their initial
sketch in oil paint. My paintings for example are usually very detailed
and therefore my canvas drawings are quite detailed as well. I initially
sketch on canvas in pencil, then make my drawing permanent with
brown ink and finally I erase any pencil marks with turpentine.
- Palette. You can either buy a wooden or glass palette or buy
disposable paper palette pad. The wooden palette you will have to
clean after every painting session where as the disposable palette pad
you just have to tear out the page in the pad and dispose of it. It’s
absolutely up to you which one to use. I started off with the wooden
palette and over time switched over to the paper palette pad because I’
m a busy artist and mom and that’s just one less thing I have to clean.
- Jars of different sizes to hold your brushes and oil painting medium
- Rugs. The cheapest and best rugs I ever found are the old t-shirts I no
longer use. I just cut them up into small pieces; they are soft and
wonderful to work with. You could also buy cheap rugs at most
- Comfortable clothing. Designate some pieces of your wardrobe as
your painting attire because no matter how careful you'll try to be, some
paint is bound to end up on your clothes. Some artists also use
aprons. I have an old lab coat from university days which I designated
as my painting uniform which works very well.
I hope you enjoyed the reading. Happy painting!