Beginner Tips on Oil Painting

Have you always wanted to take up oil painting but have never had the time? Or perhaps you have recently become interested or have seen something that has inspired you to attempt this form of art. Well there is no better time than the present. Before you begin your masterpiece though, here are a few general beginner tips on oil painting.

Get started in the right direction

There are many tips on oil painting, but one of the first ones to note is that you need to prime the canvas before you begin. Purchase primer and spread a thick and even coat onto the canvas. Once it is dry, lightly sand and dust it then apply a second coat and repeat the process. After the second coat is finished and dusted, apply a third and final coat without any sanding or dusting. This helps with the absorbency so that the oil paints do not soak into the canvas.

Once you are ready to go, consistently place your palette in the same order each time. It will hopefully then become instinctual as to where the colours are, making it easier for you as you progress.

If you are mixing paints, make a large enough batch to cover all that you may need as it is extremely difficult to get the exact same colour twice if you run out. Simply save the paint for the next session after you are finished.

It is very important to remember the rule “fat over lean” or thin to thick method. This is where you use the thin paint first to absorb the oils from the top layers. The thin layers will dry more quickly when you mix the colours with pigments that contain lead, cobalt and manganese. To get a “fatter” layer, simply add more oil. Make sure that the bottom layer is dry though before starting on the next layer. If the top layer dries before the thin bottom layer, it will shrink and start showing cracks.

Once you have finished your masterpiece and it has thoroughly dried, dust it off and apply two coats of varnish. The first should be applied one direction, such as up and down, and the second should be side to side.


While these are just a few tips on oil painting, it will hopefully get you started in the right direction. The only way to improve as a painter is to practice and learn along the way. You do have to have a lot of patience though as it may take awhile for the paint to dry between layers. Most importantly, have fun!

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