How to Start Oil Painting – Part 1: Materials

If you are anything like me, you think oil painting sounds fun, but also have heard it’s expensive and difficult. But let me tell you: it’s not! You just need direction, which is why you’re here! This series of posts will outline a simple way to start oil painting, even if you have no experience with it!

Okay, so first, you will need materials!

Basic Materials to Start Oil Painting

You will find so many things telling you that you need “ALL THESE THINGS” to oil paint – but that can be overwhelming. So I’m going to propose a simpler way to start: the bare minimum.

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So, without further ado….

Pick one in each category!

If you prefer to have me send you a kit with everything you need and no hassle, click here!

Painting Surfaces

I have found that canvas panels (board with prepared canvas over it) are easiest to start with and don’t take up too much space! But all three options are great for starting out on a budget to see what you like!

Desk Stuff

So, these are not essential, but they are very helpful. When oil painting, you don’t want your surface flat on the desk – it should be vertical at your eye level. You do not need to buy an easel right off the bat, you can just as easily prop it up against the wall like I do with my bigger paintings! Masking tape is great for sketching, taping up your reference photo, etc.

  • Desktop Easel with Drawer
    • this is almost identical to the one I use every day
  • Masking tape
  • Paper towels or rags you don’t care about
  • An old, thrifted, or inexpensive glass picture frame – this will be your paint palette (you will thank me later)
  • cheap glass/tile scraper like this for scraping dried paint off your (nice flat, glass 😉) paint palette

Medium + Thinner

Mediums are what you mix into the paint to manipulate the consistency and achieve layers in oil painting. Linseed oil is a basic one to start with. I also enjoy using Liquin to help speed up the dry time, but I would suggest waiting to use that until you’ve played with the basics first! Thinner is used for thinning paint for an underpainting and for cleaning excess pigment off the brushes.

See below this post for a comparison table for each of these.

To make things easier, you can use my BlickU course materials list to purchase everything from Blick Art Materials!

You can’t get my favorite brushes from Blick, but I have put inexpensive alternatives on those lists if you are in a time crunch or just want to get something inexpensive before a full commitment to oil painting! 😉

Paint Brushes

Inexpensive brushes are great if you want to try oil painting on a budget, but from my experience they do not last very long, or perform as well as they could, which will affect your experience. That said, I totally understand budget limitations, so don’t sweat it too much if you just want to try oil painting and start out cheaper – that’s what I did, after all!

  • My favorite brushes are from Rosemary & Co
    • they are handmade in the UK, so if you are okay with paying and waiting for shipping, they are completely worth it! I have linked to the Paint Coach set, which I myself have purchased and is a great bundle of basic brushes!
      • His youtube videos (not sponsored, I just enjoy his content) have been a big help for me, as well.
    • A less expensive option if you just want to try it out can be found here. I have a few of these brushes and they are a great option if you are in a pinch or on a tight budget.
  • I definitely suggest having a palette knife to mix your paint, so it doesn’t get all stuck up in your brushes before you even have your color mixed the way you want it!

Paint

I actually started oil painting using only primary colors, black, and white. This can seem overwhelming BUT I have found that it really helped me understand how color works in a way that having 30 different colors of paint never could. Additionally, only buying a few colors to start will save you money until you know how much you really enjoy oil painting!

I have tried several cheaper brands of oil paints (think generic “store” brands). While they work fine, they are somewhat difficult to work with and generally just not as nice as Winsor & Newton. The “Artists’ Oil Color” line I have linked is smooth and lovely to work with, without breaking the bank. I am slowly but surely using up my other cheap paints and replacing them with these ones specifically!

*EDIT 10/22: I have actually discovered that the Blick Studio Oil Colors are soooo nice to work with. The color choices are more limited than Windsor & Newton BUT while we are just starting out with primaries, that isn’t too much of an issue!

So all of that said…

I have curated a budget-friendly beginner oil painting kit to take the guesswork out and make this more accessible to whoever wants to try oil painting!

If you love this idea so you can just get to painting without the hassle of deciding what to buy, order now!!! 👇🏼

Would this be something you’d be interested in purchasing so you could start oil painting?

Once you get these materials, you will have everything you need to start oil painting yourself!!

Sign up for my newsletter to be alerted when Part 2 is published! As always, reach out with any questions or ideas!

See you soon!!

ABOUT THE MEDIUMS: based on my own experience….

GamsolLinseed OilLiquin
USESpaint thinnertraditional medium; extends dry time considerablymedium; allows faster dry time with the qualities of oil
LENGTH OF PAINT DRY TIMEquickest
(less than an hour)
usually used for the underpainting
longest
(can take months to be fully dry)
middle
(a few days)
EFFECT ON PAINTpaint becomes very thin and transparent; this is used to remove paint, so it really just breaks it downpaint becomes more fluid and glossy;
will take much longer to dry
paint becomes more fluid and glossy; a little more transparent; touch-dry within a couple of days

***All of these require adequate ventilation. Please open your window.***
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4 Comments

  1. I needed to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

    1. Thank you so very much! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to be notified when I post more! 🤍

  2. I love it

    1. Thank you!! 🤍

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