When you start working with oil paints, there are several items and materials to buy. You will need everything on this list to paint with oils, and each item is widely available from art supply stores.
Of course, the first thing you’ll need is oil paint: and plenty of it. If you are just starting out and don’t want to spend too much, Winsor & Newton are a great budget brand to look out for. 200ml tubes will give you plenty of paint to start with, and the following colors will be enough for a beginner:
- Titanium White
- Mars Black
- Ultramarine Blue
- Yellow Ochre
- Alizarin Crimson
- Cadmium Yellow Light (hue)
- Cadmium Red light (hue)
- Cerulean Blue (hue)
Until you get good at mixing colors, you might also want to add a few greens and browns to your collection to make your life a little easier. Permanent Green Light, Viridian, Burnt Amber, and Burnt Sienna will complete your palette nicely.
For beginners, only a couple of brushes are necessary. Make sure that you stick to natural bristle brushes, and start off with two small, two medium, and two large. In terms of brush shapes, flats and filberts are enough to get you going. Flats give nice sharp edges, and filberts create soft and rounded strokes. You can add more brushes later down the line when you start to develop your own personal style of painting.
Turpentine is necessary for cleaning up once you’re done painting. Unlike watercolors or acrylics, you can’t just use water to clean your brushes at the end of your painting day, so you’ll need a mineral spirit such as turpentine to keep your brushes at their best.
As well as being handy for cleaning brushes at the end of the day, it’s also useful for while you’re painting. This is because you’ll need to clean up your brushes every time you change colors or start working on a new section. You won’t need to use turpentine every time you wipe down your brushes, just cut up a newspaper and use it to squeeze out the paint from the bristles.
A charcoal pencil
Before you commit paint to your canvas, use colored pencils softly to sketch out whatever you plan to paint. Charcoal works better than graphite on canvas, and is the easiest way of testing out your idea on the workspace you have available. Once you gain more experience in oil painting you can do your ‘sketch’ using your paintbrush, but that’s slightly trickier to master.
You will need a work surface for mixing paints, which will be your palette. This doesn’t need to be anything complex or fancy, it just needs to be big enough to hold and mix your colors, leaving some space available for unplanned shades. Glass palettes can be scraped clean with a razor blade fairly quickly and easily, or you can utilize a table or tray covered with wax paper.
Painting is a messy business, so you’ll need to choose a comfortable outfit that you don’t mind covering in paint. An oversized shirt is a good option, or invest in some overalls if you prefer.
It’s important for every painter to own an easel, but you don’t need to invest in a professional standard model right away. All you really need is for it to be height adjustable, and for it to hold your work securely. By starting out with a cheaper option you can get to know what you want from your upgrade, which will make you confident when it comes to buying it. Buying an expensive model with no painting experience will probably result in you ending up with something that doesn’t suit you, so resist the urge to splurge.
Canvases, or whichever work surface you’ve chosen to work on, will need to be purchased ahead of time. If you are just starting out, you can save a lot of money by working on paper instead of canvas first, until you get a feel for your paints. If you do choose to start with canvas, consider buying pre-primed ones to save you the job of priming it yourself.
Linseed stand oil
This isn’t a total necessity, but many painters can’t live without it. When you’re mixing colors you’ll find it much easier if you add a little painter’s medium, which is made by combining linseed stand oil with turpentine. The easiest way to use this is to pour out a couple of tablespoons before you begin painting. Then, just dip your brush into the medium before mixing colors.