Oil painting on canvas is one of the most popular ways to paint.
Here we’ll show you the basics to get you started.
If you’re completely new to oil painting on canvas, start off with an introductory set of paints that will be cheaper. You’ll also need a palette, a solvent to remove paint from your brushes, rags and a scraper for cleaning your palette.
Basics colours to get your canvas painting going include titanium white, black, yellow, darker yellow, crimson, blue and green.
What is oil paint?
Oil paint is a mix of two main ingredients: linseed oil (made from flax seeds) and pigment. Despite popular opinion, oil paint isn’t toxic unless in a powder form which contains elements such as lead. Make sure when oil painting to do so in a well ventilated room and read the labels on the back of your paints. Some paints are highly flammable.
What are mediums?
Oil paints can be mixed with a medium to change the effects of the paint, ie to change the transparency, make the paint glossier or allow it to flow much smoother. Mediums such as galkyd will level the paint’s surface to make it appear much flatter and glossier. It also speeds up the drying time of oil paints, meaning most canvas paintings will try within 24 hours.
Solvent is used in oil paintings to thin the paint you’re working with, which is handy for both cleaning brushes and using as a medium.
Avoid oil-based mediums until your last layer of paint.
‘Fat over lean’
‘Fat over lean’ dictates the basic rules you should follow when oil painting. The first layer on your canvas should be a mix of solvent, paint and medium. It will include much more solvent than medium, making it ‘lean’. The layers which follow should increase the amount of medium used.
This allows the bottom layers to dry faster. If you were to paint a ‘fatter’ layer first followed by a ‘leaner’ one, the top layer will dry much quicker and go through surface changes, which will cause the top layer to crack.