Learn Oil Painting Techniques to Become a Master of the Canvas

Oil Painting Techniques

Utilizing pigments with the means of a drying oil is basically referred to as the oil painting. There is a huge variety of oils that can be utilized for this purpose; these comprise of poppyseed, safflower, linseed and walnut oils. Every oil confers its own unique properties when it utilized for the purpose of being utilized on the canvas.

Also, every oil has its own specific times to dry and every oil brings its own consistency to the pigment mixture. Some painters make use of a combination of various oils in order to bring the required effect of the colors on their canvas.

Another latest technique brought into this dimension of art is the smother called as ‘water miscible oil paint’. Using this specific spread, the artist can use water to thin it according to his need and the coat on the canvas gets dried within one to three days, while traditionally with regular oils it used to take around one to three weeks.

How to Handle the Colors?

The Palette

  • Keep the cool colors at one place, the warm colors on another place and the white shade totally aside.
  • Its important that you carefully maintain the colors away from the periphery of the pallete.
  • When opening the tubes, gently press them starting from the bottom of the tube, rolling it upwards.
  • Make sure that you press out the required shades on the top periphery of your pallete.
  • Use the L side of it if you are a right handed person or utilize the R side of the pallete if you are left handed.
  • Make sure to not allow paint on the lower periphery or the middle edge because these spaces should be left for the purpose of mixing the colors only.


  • Make sure that you know which colors to pick before starting the process.
  • Use color/hue to mix slightly and decide accurately that which colors you shall be making use of in the initial phase.
  • Never add too many colors simultaneously on your pallette.
  • Begin your work with the lighter shade.
  • Make use of your palette knife in order to extract the requried shades and then mix them on the palette.
  • Do not use too much area of the palette while mixing.

The Techniques

Utilizing oil based paints is wonderfully innovative itself because they allow great freedom to the artist. They can be utilized to in a thick form as well as a thin form as per the requirement of the painter.

Laying Out

Arrange your requried shades in the order that you need in this way you will remember your original plan for the painting.

Fat Over Lean

The quantity of the lubricant has to be increased after every new layer of work on the same canvas. This technique is known  as ‘fat over lean’. The reason for this is because every lower layer tends to soak the lubricant from those layers above it. In the case that the lower ones do not dry up as quickly as the upper ones then there is a visible chance of appearance of cracks in the work which will not be a good sight to view.

Accelerate the Drying

In the case that you want to accelerate the drying process then make sure to purchase the pigment which contain manganese, lead and cobalt inside them. These pigments can be combined with the rest of the shades in order to make the drying process speedy.

Utilization of Linseed Oil

For an underpainting, or for the base layers of any painting – the linseed lubricant works the best as it helps in easily drying all the subsequent oils. However, do not use it for your shades of whites or blues because it may cause them to turn yellow and it strikes out in particular when you use these shades in combination with the light shades. For the blues, whites and the light colors – poppy oil works the best!

Quick Check for Mineral / White Spirits

Here is a simple technique to see whether a particular bottle containing mineral or the white spirits is worth to be used for your painting or not, you don’t want to spoil your painting by applying them directly, would you? You should place a small amount of it on paper and allow it to disperse / evaporate on its own. After the evaporation, carefully observe the paper and see that whether any remainder of stain or smell is there or not. If its not there then it is fine to be used in your creation.

Cleaning a Layer

Sometimes your one layer doesnt jel in with the previous ones and the minute you realize that you eagerly would want to remove it. In such a case, you should be making use of alcohol because it is an incrediably potent solvent.

Knowing the Tinting Strength

While you begin working with lubricant based paints, you should also start knowing that what is the tinting strength of every color. For instance, you may note that the colors of Alizarin Crimson and also the Prussian Blue – they both share a highly strong tinting strength innately. If you are a beginner at this work, then it will be fun for you to experiment with various colors by adding an equal amount of white color to each shade on the palette and then using them for painting, you will come to see that how each shade comes out.

Creating the Impasto Effect

Applying paint thickly and loosely is a technique identified as Impasto. For this purpose, you need to keep your smother thick and make sure to use brushes that hold much paint for instance the flat brushes.

This effect can be created to smooth certain parts of your creation or it can be sole technique for your creation as well because it has the ability to give a three dimensional look to your image.

Correcting Your Work

Using the palette knife for scraping off the paint is an efficient technique whenever you require to correct your oil painting. Using a paint rag dissolved in a solvent and scrubbing it on the canvas is another technique adopted by painters.

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