Materials Needed:

•  Oil Paints:  Red, Blue, Yellow, White, Black

•  Mediums:  Linseed, Poppyseed, Walnut, Safflower Oils.  

Stand Oil is a heated Linseed oil that takes longer to dry and is less yellowing.  

•  Paint thinner like Gamsol 

•  Gesso to seal your paper 

•  Paper, you can add 2-3 layers of gesso to almost any paper or buy a paper specifically made for oil painting like Arches. I personally prefer gessoed paper over the Arches, just because of the texture of the Arches paper is a little pulpy.


Oil painting brushes are often a bit more bristly than watercolor/acrylic brushes.  Like with everything, it's nice to have a variety to choose from when starting.  I love to have a least 6 brushes, ranging in size, with me when I am about to begin an oil painting.  My favorites for oil painting are: 

Masterstroke by Blick  & These from Amazon are affordable and work great.  

Fat Over Lean:

Is a painting method to ensure that your painting won't crack as it hardens/oxidizes ( or "dries" -  oil paintings don't actually "dry" but harden as they oxidize over time. The more oil on the painting, the longer it will take to oxidize.  Other wet mediums evaporate as they dry). What Fat over Lean means is that when applying paint you will want to be mindful of applying paints with higher levels of oils over higher levels of paint with pigment and less oil.   Paint that has more pigment than oil or paint that has been thinned with a paint thinner such as Gamsol is considered "lean" and paint with more oil added to it is "fat".  Use your leaner paints in the earlier stages of your painting and the fatter paints in your later stages and you will have nothing to worry about.   Keep in mind, adding more oil to your paints slows down the drying time of your piece. If you paint with heavily rich in oil paints and then add a layer of thinner, high pigmented paint overtop of the oil-rich layer what will happen is that the top layer will begin to dry out and seal the bottom layer in, over time this will cause the top layer to buckle and possibly crack. Personally, I only use a small amount of oil to my paints, if any at all when I am painting.  This keeps things simple and gives me piece of mind when it comes to painting with oils.  

 Clean up + Safety:  

• I use Gamsol to clean my brushes, then with water I use the Fels-Naptha Soap to get the remaining oils off the brushes. 

•  Towels and rags soaked in Linseed oil (and other oils) are a fire hazard if left where they can oxidize. Be sure to dispose or rinse all rags/towels to keep them from spontaneously combusting. 

Here is a Great Podcast from Gamblin on the toxicity and safety of oils. 

Painting with oils

Just like with acrylics, watercolors, gouache, and pastels, when painting with oils you will need to pay attention to the overall shape of what you will be painting, changes in value, the relationship of one thing to another, and the finer details that complete the overall piece.  The only differences are the binder used to hold the paint together is oil based instead of a polymer, gum arabic, or gum tragacanth, and in place of water you will need a paint thinner and/or medium to thin out the paints.  

 A bonus to painting with oils is the slower drying time, allowing you to work slowly on the piece.

When I paint with oils I usually like to start with a sketch, as I do in this demonstration.  From there I like to use a very thinned down paint, (thinned with Gamsol) typically black or raw umber,  to get down the areas where the darkest values will be.  Once I have that layer down I then mix my colors, creating multiple values of the colors I need to get me started.  Now I am ready to paint. I begin by blocking in different values, then gradually blending them in as I go. Changing brushes when necessary, usually working large to small, using the larger brushes to block in the values, and the smaller brushes to add detail.  I continue to add paint to the piece and blend as I go until I feel happy with the overall piece.  


“I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”  - Frida Kahlo


Please feel free to use this image of my daughter as reference, if you would like to.