A complete guide to know how to make oil paintings?

Oil paintings have huge demand around the world for their quality, color, and versatility. Oil paints are very popular among artists, and they have been using it for hundreds of years. But it is not easy to use oil paints, and it will take more practice to perfect them. You have to work with toxic solvents, so the drying time will be so long. If you want to make a perfect oil painting, then there are some tips you need to follow first. There are some techniques that are used by great artists, and they will surely help you to take your art to the next level. If you are an artist, then to create the best oil painting is to follow three oil painting rules.

Three rules to follow while using oil paints

While using oil paints, you need to follow the three rules. These three rules are 'fat over lean,' 'slow drying over fast drying,' and thick over the thin conclusion of this rule is the layer of paint should be flexible, thicker, and slow drying than the below one. These rules can help you to stop the layers from cracking while working. You will be able to achieve it by using more amount of paint on the brush with each new layer.

Some tips for beginners

If you are a beginner, then following these tips will help you to achieve the best results.

Start small

If you start with painting small, then it will give you a chance to experiment and use new techniques. You don't have to give too much time or use too much material in this process. There is a small 8×10 canvas easily available in the market, or you can choose oil painting papers to achieve great results. Every day you can increase the size of the painting to enhance your skills.

Be organized

You need to choose a free space when you can keep your palettes and supplies out and ready. Keeping everything ready will give you the opportunity to think about what you want to paint. It will also make the process easier, that you would love to paint more often. Your work will surely improve if you paint regularly. Spending time painting and practicing will help you to create great paintings.

Choose the best brushes

To get the best out of your oil paintings, and you need to invest in professional grease paints. Suppose you can afford but the best brushes, as it has a better ratio of pigment to binder. You need to buy only a few high-quality brushes of different sizes. First, buy three professional-grade brushes of three different sizes. You can also buy more if you want to experiment with different sizes. You can use natural hair brushes that will go with oil paints, and you can use synthetic brushes specially made of acrylic paints for oil.

Use primer

You can paint on different surfaces such as paper, canvas, wood, and many more. But no matter which surface you choose, you need to apply a type of primer called gesso to the surfaces. The advantage of using it on the surface is that you will be able to prevent the oil from coming out from the surfaces, also protect the surface from the acid present in the paint. After applying gesso, you will be painting more easily. There are pre-primed boards or canvas also available in the market, but if you like, you can apply gesso one more time to make a smoother surface.

Start with fewer colors

You shouldn't mix all the colors in your paintings at once. As a beginner, you can start with monochrome painting, a painting with black and white. You can use different colors as well on the basis of if you want warm or cool painting. When you are ready to go, add a cool and warm version of each primary color to your palette.

Stay with a sketch

As a beginner, you can first start with underpainting with a color. When it gets dry, you can add different layers of paint and color. But remember not to wait too long to let it dry. Burnt sienna is very useful to lay out the composition.

Pay attention to the order

As we have discussed earlier, you need to follow the three rules. Paint thick over thin, then fat over lean and slow drying over fast drying. It means you need to use less oil and thinner paint in the first layers. You can save thicker paints and more oil for the next layers. This is a common rule to ensure the earlier layers will dry first and protect the paint from cracking.  

Keep your brush clean

It is very important to clean the brush using different colors and with soap water after finishing the painting. Oil painting can be messy, and for a beginner, it can be messier, so keep paper towels and rags handy to remove extra paint and turpentine from your brushes. Keep two containers with you, one for cleaning your brush while using different colors and another one to mix your paint.

Be careful

Oil paints are toxic, and it is not safe for your skin. Make sure your skin won't absorb the oil paints. You need to keep them away if you have small children or pets in your home. Take care of the things after using them, such as mediums, paper towels, Paper plates, rags, and other things.

How to construct an oil painting?

Oil paintings are very complicated to construct, as oil paints are very different from all paints when it comes to the durability of the painting. The construction of an oil painting can be divided into preparing the surface, using the paint, and then applying varnish.

Preparing the surface

The quality of the oil painting highly depends on the surface you are using. Cardboard, paper, wood, and cotton are some of the best grounds for oil paint but now without taking prior steps. If you don't treat the surface before painting, the surface will suck out the oil and damage the painting. You need to use sufficient oil to surround the pigments. Then only you can stop the painting from splitting or cracking.

Use gesso

Gesso is made with pure acrylic resin, and it is to creates a thick layer on the surface. But the layer needs to be thick enough, and you can apply it in two goes to get the best results. For the first layers, the gesso can be thinned with water to spread effectively. The second time applies pure water. If the surface is highly absorbent, then you can treat it with a layer of Amsterdam acrylic binder.

Using paint

There are two types of painting techniques such as Alla prima and layered painting.

What is Alla prima?

Alla prima refers to a painting technique that uses wet-into-wet. This technique includes mixing the colors on the palette and also in painting. The colors are applied should be wet over one another or alongside it. The painting with a single layer must be completed when the paint is wet.

Layered painting

In the layered painting technique, you need to create various layers on the painting. In this technique, you need to be careful and apply the layer only after the previous layers are dry enough so that the color won't dissolve. With each layer, you need to use more layers, and it is difficult to decide how many layers you will need to achieve a good result. That is why make sure the paint is not too fat so that the other layer will be easily bond. But be careful about how much oil you are using, as using too much oil will wrinkle the painting during the drying process.

Fat over lean

You need to make sure the first layer is mean, and you will be able to thin the paint with white spirit. The lean layer will absorb the oil and secure itself in so many pores while drying. While painting, you need to make sure that the layer above contains more oil. If you don't do this, then you won't get good quality. The fat over lean rule will ensure the tension between the different paint layers is absorbed. To ensure the durability of the painting, the paint layers have to absorb these movements. The more oil you use on the layer, the more elastic it will turn out after drying. 

If you use more oil in the lower layers than the last layers, then it will be against the "fat over lean" rule. As a result, the painting will crack. If you want to avoid cracking, then you need to follow the "fat over lean" rule, which means increasing the amount of oil with each layer. After that, you need to make sure the layer is dry enough before applying the next layers. If you apply the next layer before drying the previous layers, then it can also crack.

It depends on the artist that how many layers he wants to build up. It is recommended to thin the paint with turpentine in the first layer. The more solvents you use, the learner will be the paint layers. When the first layer becomes dry enough, then you can apply the second layer, and after that, several stores you can take.

  • Every layer uses less amount of solvent and more amount of oil. And at last, you can finish it with only using pure paint.
  • While painting, mix all the paints with the painting medium. A good medium includes resin, oil, and solvent. Oil can make the paint fatter, so there is a solvent that ensures the paint won't become too fat. And with the use of resin, you can increase the durability of the paint layer.
  • If your painting has more than two layers, then the medium can use turpentine. The larger the amount of medium, the fatter the mixture will be. For the final layer in the paint, you can use the pure medium.

Applying the varnish

Varnishes for oil paints include resin mixed in a solvent. The varnishes protect the layers and give them shine.

Use of retouching varnish

During painting, if an area absorbs too much oil, then it can cause sunken in that particular area. Due to this, the color will lose its intensity. The area sucks too much amount of oil when you apply a new layer. The sunken areas are very hard to dry, and if you add the next layer in this area, then it can damage your painting. Varnishes will make sure that the area won't suck too much oil.

Additionally, the retouching varnish can be used on paintings that are not dry enough. It will add extra gloss to the painting and protect it from dirt. Retouching varnish increases the oxygen absorption caps that help the painting to dry as quickly as possible. After the painting is dry, you can apply retouching varnish for the final touch.

But make sure to use retouching varnish in a very thin layer. Using too much varnish can dissolve the oil from the lower layer and bring it to the upper surface. If this happens, then the painting will stay sticky for months or for years. It will be hard to stop the dust from sticking to it. If you want to apply normal layer thickness, then wait at least two to three months.

Use of final varnish

The drying process of painting is a chemical process that involves oxygen and light. Once the painting is dry, the oxidation process doesn't stop, so it can cause cracking. 

Therefore, it is important to use final varnish. Using final vanish slows down the oxygen absorption capacity and aging.

This can also provide gloss and protect the painting from the environment. The final varnishing will keep everything at room temperature. Like if you keep your painting in a cold environment or then the varnish will deal away, then moisture can cause white haze inside the painting. It is important to use the varnish with a matting agent in one layer.