Oil Painting: 10 FAQs Answered

Oil Painting: 10 FAQs Answered

by Manish Singh


One of the first things we learn about paint is that different types are suitable for different painting jobs. Knowing how certain paints can be used is important for creating the best art, in terms of both how it looks and how long it will last.

Today we’re looking at oil painting and answering the most common questions that surround it. You’ll find ten of them below, which have been answered. While you’re thinking about the kind of paint you’re using, you should also take a look at your brushes. There are synthetic or natural oil paint brushes that look different in the finished product.

1. When Should I Use Oil Paint?

Ultimately, you should use what you want. That said, oil paint is one of the oldest paint methods that is known for having deep, rich colors and a rustic finish, so you should reach for the oil paint if that’s the look you want.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll come across student-grade and artist-grade paint. Student-grade is more affordable and better for larger projects while artist-grade paints have a wider color selection, highest pigment levels, and cost more.

2. Can I Mix Paint Brands?

Maybe you have some more paint lying around, in which case you can mix them. Brands of the same paint type can generally be mixed together to produce different color and texture results. You can mix artist-grade and student-grade paints, too.

You can’t mix the paint types freely. As the saying goes, oil and water don’t mix. Oil can be painted onto acrylic, however, which is a great starter paint for beginners. The opposite isn’t true, acrylic can’t be painted on top of oil paint.

3. What Colors Do I Get?

Knowing which colors to get can be difficult, especially if you’re getting pricey oil paint. For a starting painter, you’ll be fine with two of each primary color – red, blue, and yellow – along with one white. Try to get the primary colors in warm and cool variants so that you can mix them and get more color combinations.

4. Is Learning Color Theory Necessary?

While the term may seem intimidating, learning color theory can be made easy and is necessary for anybody serious about painting with color. You likely already know a lot about how colors mix to create new ones, color theory just takes this to another level by adding how colors contrast or complement one another. There are many easy guides to learning color theory online.

5. What Should Oil Be Painted On?

The surface that you paint on also matters. Oil paint surfaces need to be primed first as the oil will weaken the paper or canvas threads underneath, so the art won’t last very long. You need to get a primer to treat surfaces yourself or you can buy canvases or papers that have already been primed before they reach your front door.

6. How Many Brushes Are Needed?

You can use as few or as many brushes as you like. As a beginner, you’ll want standard bristle-hair brushes, like Filbert brushes, that are great for learning how to paint properly. Brush variation becomes more important as you get more skilled, in which case you can get different sizes and brush shapes.

7. How Often Do You Clean Brushes?

You should paint your brushes after each painting session, at the end of the day. Oil paint clings to things differently than acrylic or watercolor paint, so water won’t be enough to clean them. Instead, you’ll need to get a chemical solvent that’s made to clean brushes slick with oil paint.

8. How Thick Should The Paint Be?

You don’t need to worry about the thickness of oil paints that much. The consistency of oil can be changed through mediums that act as thinners or thickeners, just like acrylic and watercolor paint.

9. Do I Use A Palette?

If you’re mixing colors, you may benefit from using a palette. Palettes work well with oil paints because they stay slick and can be mixed on a flat, clean surface, so you can see which colors and textures are produced. Traditionally, palettes are made from dark wood, but glass and paper palettes exist too.

10. How Long Will It Take?

Painting with oil paint takes exactly as long as you want it to. If you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t rush and try to create small, unambitious things that grow your skills and keep you interested in painting as an art form.

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