6 tips for oil painting

academy malen mit oel 02 - 6 tips for oil painting

Practical tricks with which you can work better

Oil painting is one of the most popular painting techniques and is regarded by many artists as a supreme discipline. No wonder, because the oil paint (usually linseed oil) has some tricky properties that beginners have to learn properly. That´s why many amateur painters shy away from oil painting.

There are several reasons for this: On the one hand, oil paints are more expensive than acrylic or watercolors, on the other hand, the painting process is overall somewhat more complex. Oil-based paint takes longer to dry (although there are ways to speed up the process), and cleaning the brushes and palettes takes time. But the effort is worth it! With oil paints, you can achieve much more intense and greater color results. In addition, with oil paints it is easier to correct mistakes: If you paint, you can remove the color with a piece of cloth, while with watercolors, this is not possible.

Here are six tricks you can use to better work with oil paints.

1. Buy high-quality colors

Of course, oil paints are expensive – but you should pay attention to good quality when buying the colors and refrain from buying the cheapest ones. Because in the long run, this is more expensive: Cheap colors have less and weaker color pigments. Therefore, in the end, you are going to use more color and consequently, to pay more.

2. Turpentine or turpentine substitute?

Turpentine is the traditional solvent for oil-based paints. It’s used for cleaning brushes and can be also used to “thin” oil paint by itself, or it can be mixed with other substances to create various kinds of “mediums”. Fumes can be toxic if inhaled in concentration. That is why, at the Academy of Fine Art Germany, we prefer to use a substitute. However, even substitutes contain vapors that can be harmful in the long run. Therefore, it is necessary to use them in a well-ventilated area.

3. Clean the brush properly

Clean your paintbrush thoroughly after each use. The good thing is that you do not need expensive cleaning tools or special soaps. We recommend you use a normal one. It works just as well as a brush soap and is much cheaper.

4. No time to clean?

If you’re feeling stressed and do not have time to clean the brushes, do not just leave them there: the brushes will dry out through the paint and wreck over time. You can simply put the brush into the turpentine substitute, wipe it off with paper and wrap it in plastic wrap. In this way, they won´t dry out. However, don´t forget to clean them properly the next day.

5. No waste of colors – Part 1

If you have premixed colors or just too much color left over, you can reuse it with a simple trick. To do this, use a spatula to put the paint in a simple plastic syringe and cover the hub of it with tape. In this way, it doesn´t dry out and you can use it again at a later moment.

6. No waste of colors – Part 2

Another option is to put the paint in a small bowl. Fill the paint with some water (do not worry oil and water won´t mix) so it is covered until the edge. The oil color is therefore practically sealed and doesn´t dry out.

Do you have other tips? How do you clean your brushes? And what do you prefer to work with – turpentine or a substitute?

Did you like our post: “6 tips oil painting”? Take a look at our post “Artists and their silent assistants”.

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