Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oil Painting for Beginners - Supply List

One of my students this session is new to oil painting and asked for a supply list. Since I usually teach advanced students who already have supplies that they are used to, I hadn't compiled a list until now. I really enjoyed pulling this list together and found that it helped me get a better hold on my own supplies. This is what I told her to get:

(Please note - a painting surface is not included in this post, since my student already had one. I will write about surfaces another time - that could get it's own post!)

Paint: It is important to buy professional grade paints. Student grade paint contains a larger proportion of "binder" (the clear medium in which the colored pigment is suspended) to pigment. As a result, these cheaper paints do not mix correctly and are very frustrating to work with! The paint that I like to use and recommend to my students is, "Windsor Newton Artist's Oil Colors". There are other brands at the store, but I know that Windsor Newton works for me so I stick with them.

When picking paint colors, you generally should get White and a warm and a cool version of Brown, Red, Blue, and Yellow. You can mix most colors you need from those basics. To start, I recommend the following colors:

* Titanium White (you will notice that there are other whites available. They vary in "whiteness" and transparency. They will be good to experiment with later, but titanium white is perfect to start.)
* Burnt Umber (this is a warm dark brown)
* Raw Umber (this is a cool dark brown)
* French Ultramarine Blue (Warm Blue)
* Prussian Blue (Cool Dark Blue)
* Cadmium Yellow (Warm Yellow)
* Yellow Ochre (This is a warm dark yellow that is very useful for mixing skin tones)
* Cadmium Red (This is a warm red. Please note, the Cadmium colors are very expensive, but unfortunately there really is no substitute for them)
* Alizarin Crimson (cool red)

A few optional colors that I like are:

* Burnt Sienna (Very warm reddish brown)
* Payne's Gray (Dark blue gray)
* Windsor Violet (purple)
* Cadmium Yellow Pale or Cadmium Lemon (These are your cool yellows)
* Terre Verde (Green - generally you can mix your greens from colors you already have though)
* Naples Yellow (Very pale yellow. Careful, this color contains Lead)

You'll notice that black is not included on this list. Most painters find store bought blacks to be too flat looking on the canvas, especially since true black rarely exists in real life. You can mix your own dark colors easily (I like to mix Prussian Blue and Burnt Umber).

Paint Mediums
: To start, I recommend Turpenoid which is an odorless solvent. You will also need a container to keep the medium in. I keep mine in a glass jar, though there are nicer, fancier alternatives you will see at the store. Oil paint and medium eats through plastic, so you will not be able to use a plastic container.

Palette: There are many choices out on the market for palettes. I like the ones that are resealable like this. Paper palette (which is sort of like wax paper that comes in pad) will keep your new resealable palette clean and easy to change. There are many paper palette brands. Chose one that fits the best inside your resealable palette.

Brushes: There are A LOT of choices out there and you really have to find what you like best through trial and error. Here is a good article about the different options. I prefer using synthetic brushes - they tend to be softer which works for my style of painting. Try getting a few different sizes of filberts, rounds, and flats. I also recommend 1 large brush to use for washes (doesn't have to be too fancy) and 1 liner (long and thin).

Optional Supplies

* Sketchbook (for drawings and notes and fun!)
* Palette Knife (we use these for mixing and moving paint and sometimes event to paint with)
* Brush soap
* An Apron
* A box in which to keep everything
* Paper Towels or cloth rags
* Pliers (for opening stuck tubes of paint)
* Liquin (This is a painting medium that I like to use which acts as a drying agent. I prefer the original thickness. I either paint with it straight or mix a little into my turp to speed drying times.)