Get started with oils
Howard Lyon launches a five-part series that’ll boost your knowledge of oils. If you’ve been putting off using this age-old medium, there’s no time like the present!
Howard Lyon shows you how.
There’s an undeserved mystique around oil painting that has put up some intimidating barriers for some artists wanting to use this wonderful medium. I hope to remove those concerns and provide a basic foundation of knowledge to help you get started.
Oil paint is pigment bound in a drying (siccative) oil. The most common is linseed oil extracted from flax seeds, but you’ll also find paint bound in walnut, safflower or other oils. The pigments are generally the same as those found in watercolours, pastels and acrylics.
Oil paints offer a richness of colour and its surface allows the creation of beautiful textures. You can paint thick or thin, directly or use glazes. Oils can be used on paper, wood, metal, plastic, canvas and many other surfaces.
If you’re just getting started, don’t get overwhelmed. Be patient with yourself and recognise that it’ll take a little time to get the hang of this beautiful medium. Don’t overcomplicate it, either.
To begin we’ll go over the key materials needed for you to get started. Most art materials are sold in at least two grades: student and professional. Whenever possible, purchase pro-grade materials. I find the difference in price is offset because pro materials almost always last longer and the paint goes further.