If you feel inspired by Picasso's cubist expressions, Van Gogh's bold use of color, or Dali's melting clocks, now is a good time as any to pick up a paintbrush, and realize the emotions on canvas. Oils are a great medium to start with, as corrections and changes are easily made. Also, you can take your time with it, taking it up only whenever inspiration strikes so that it is never forced or mechanical. After all, if a creative process is carried out under duress or in fatigue, a dry shriveled up piece of art lacking emotion is the result. The beauty of this art, among other aspects, lies in being able to see actual brush strokes. While seasoned artists will be familiar with these pointers, here are some oil painting tips for beginners.
- Any list of tips, firstly, will tell you that every time you begin a new painting, it is advisable to first paint it with acrylics. Once they dry (which they do, fairly quickly), then you can fill it out with paints, especially for light and shadow, or glazing. Finally, let it dry out for about three to five months before varnishing. While most beginners focus on the surface quality of the brush work, plenty of other details, such as the surface you work on, the preliminary staining of the surface, and the underpainting dictate the quality of the finished product.
- Your first few attempts are likely to appear like a mess to you. While it is natural to get exasperated, try to salvage the situation by scraping off as much paint as possible, using a palette knife. After this, dip a bit of cloth in turps and rub it over the canvas, which will help you get rid of more paint. You should be left with an even, gray canvas, on which you can start afresh.
- Among some of the tricks, an important pointer is to increase the proportion of oil with every layer, as the underlying layers soak it up from the layers over them. As the upper layers are the first to dry, not doing the right thing can cause them to crack. Also, when the paint on your palette dries and forms lots of wrinkles, it means that too much lubricant has been added.
- Many artists use linseed oil for an underpainting, as it has the best drying capabilities (dries the most thoroughly). It is usually used in the base layers of paintings done wet or dry. However, its use as a medium in whites and blues (or other light colors) is discouraged, as it will yellow and will be noticed. Certain tips always suggest that when working with light shades, the slower drying poppy oil is more suitable, as it has the least tendency to turn yellow.
- A frequently mentioned tip is that one must not dry paintings in the dark. This is usually known to cause a thin, oily film to rise to the surface, leaving it with a yellow tinge. If this has already happened to you, the situation can be remedied with exposure to sunlight.
- While painting, if you struggle to decide between a bottle of mineral or white spirits, you can carry out a patch test. Dab a small quantity of the substance on a piece of paper, and allow it to evaporate. If it evaporates without leaving any residue, smell, or stain, then it is suitable for use.