I’m going to start a 3 or 4 part series on oil painting, sharing tips & techniques that I’ve learned along the way. A common misconception with oil painting is that you have to use dangerous solvents and thinners that are very toxic. That is simply not true. It is possible to be completely safe while painting with this beautiful medium. In this part I will cover the basic supplies you need to get started. Shall we?

1. Paint

You get what you pay for in this department. I use a mid-level brand (Grumbacher) that I’ve been pretty happy with, but I do find that I need to add more medium to get them to flow properly. With a 40% coupon at Michael’s I got a set of 10 for $35 in the basic colors. Then I purchased a few Winton color tubes separately for about $8 each.

2. Brushes

It’s nice to have a broad range of brushes for oils, and great to have a few with a longer handle for painting with your whole arm, which is very important. Synthetic or natural fiber brushes will do just fine.

I use mostly round and filbert brushes, and I like to have two of the same size of my favorites – one for painting and another to keep clean for blending or picking up paint.

Bright and flat brushes are also good to have – I’ve never used a fan brush so you might be able to skip that one. I also have one or two really tiny brushes for detailing.

3. Oil Medium

This is your replacement for turps and thinners. I use Refined Linseed Oil, but you could use Walnut oil, or really any type of oil medium. You will use this to thin your paint, prep your canvas, and clean your brushes.

4. Palette

A glass palette is my favorite because it’s clear and flat and super easy to mix colors on and even easier to clean – just use some pages from a phone book to wipe it clean! You could also use a disposable palette for convenience.

5. Rag

You will need a rag to wipe your brushes while painting, and you can also use it to clean your brushes of excess paint. An old cotton t-shirt works well for this.

6. Bar of Soap

A bar of soap with olive oil in it works best, which can be found at health food stores. This will be used to clean your brushes. Works like a charm and it’s completely safe!

7. Easel (Optional)

You don’t have to have this, but it does make painting so much easier than having to hunch over a desk. Not to mention dealing with glare from painting on a flat plane.

That’s it! The the next part I’ll go into the basics of toning/priming your canvas and sketching out your subject. I hope if you’ve been intimidated by oils in the past, you will give it a try. Oils have become my absolute favorite medium. Until then! Have a great weekend.