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Essential Items for Oil Painting Beginners

If you are ready to start your training with oil paint, you will need tools different from that you use for watercolor and acrylic. You do not need to buy the most expensive items or professional-grade tools just yet, but you can start with student-grade materials.

These are the most important items you will need to start oil painting.

• Oil Paint
Buy a painting kit that contains a pack of several oil paints, because these are usually more affordable than single-color products. For a beginner, you will need the following colors: cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow light, ultramarine blue, ivory black, and titanium white. Some artists, however, do not advise getting an ivory black paint and encourage mixing of colors to achieve grays and darks instead.

• Brushes and Palette Knives
You will be using a separate set of paint brushes for oil from your watercolor and acrylic brushes, because oil paint can easily destroy some of them. You might have to spend extra money on quality, durable brushes in different sizes. You must have at least a pair each of round, filbert, and flat brushes; with sizes 2, 6, and 12. You could get sizes smaller or bigger than those listed here as well as other types of brushes if you think you need them. The palette knife is also ideal for mixing and applying paint directly on the canvas.

• Palette and Jars
Any type or size of palette will work for oil, as long you choose one that has a surface for mixing the paint. You will also need at least two pieces of ceramic or plastic jars for cleaning your brushes and storing your mineral spirits or turpentine.

• Mineral Spirits or Turpentine
Oil paint on your brushes cannot be cleaned off with water alone, instead, you will need solvents such as turpentine and mineral spirits to thin out the paint. There are mineral spirits that are odorless and easier to handle than turpentine and paint thinners.

• Oil Medium or Linseed Oil
While mixing oil paint, you will need to add linseed stand oil or a painter’s medium. It will act as a diluting solution, pretty much like water acts as a thinner to watercolor. It has the same function of turpentine and mineral spirits, but the oil medium is more useful for achieving an ideal paint consistency and texture.

• Rags, Newsprint, and Apron
Oil painting is messy, so you will need rags and newsprint to protect other items in the room while you’re painting. You should also wear an apron to protect your clothes, because the oil paint is difficult to remove.

• Painting Surface and Easel
You can paint on any surface besides on a pre-stretched canvas as long as you treat the material first with gesso. You might also want to invest on an easel if you’re planning to paint on canvas, because they will make painting easier.

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