My name is Michael, I've been lurking throughout the forums for quite some time now, learning steadily and reading interesting topics... I've decided however that I'm going to force myself to take the jump and make some posts, join some discussions and try and find out all the possibilities here .

I've recently taken the interest of starting to paint with oil paints and while going through the process of research (I've actually read so much that it has started to confuse me ) and shopping there have been some issues that popped to mind on which I could use some experienced people's opinion on.

My goal for oil painting would be to be able to realistically portray things such as portraits and landscapes, while also being able to go and paint other subjects I find throughout my research and experiences. One of my requests would be if you guys could give any advice for products I should acquire. (Duo to inexperience I would bet I'm missing something important!)
I would also request some advice regarding the possible lifespan of my projects, and the tips you would have for me regarding that. (I've read about the disasters that could strike your paintings if you misuse certain products, and I want to be as prepared as I can be)

To give a bit more of an understanding on what I have available I've made some photo's on which you can see my supplies:

Some of these products are Bob Ross experiments from the past , always loved his episodes .

Guess it's time to throw out some questions now...

1. I am trying to decide on which type of support I want to paint... The obvious choice (in my eyes) would be linen, but the guy at the art supply store told me that cotten would be just fine in turns of strength and durability. I've read, however, that cotten changes in different types of humidities. I've also heard and read that there's some kind of board around which is specially made for people who are going to work into fine details, though I cannot remember what it was... What advice could you guys give for support?

2. I've read that some artists prefer to prime their own canvasses instead of buying a pre-primed canvas, is this because pre-primed canvasses cost more? Or do you get a better quality if you do it yourself?
Also, if one does decide to prime his\her own canvas what kind of Gesso would you need to use? (I've read something about when using the wrong type of Gesso that it could seriously reduce the lifespan of your painting)
I've also read something about using rabbit glue or something? that one really confused me... Any tips or experiences regarding this would be appriciated !

3. I've been given the advice (by some internet articles) to make a sketch before painting almost anything... and charcoal was the way to do it. After making a sketch with charcoal though, I couldn't help but wonder if it would blend with the paint I would apply on it, resulting into a muddy blackened mess. Do you have to spray hairspray on it or something? (I remember that it makes sure it cannot be smudged, but I don't know if you can paint over a layer of hairspray...) Again, any tips or experiences would be much much appriciated !

4. I've read that some artists choose to project relatively small drawings onto their canvas, and I'm interested in doing this myself. (I hate having to redraw a sketch, especially on really large surfaces, duo to the fact that I always somehow fail to copy that critical point in the drawing.)
The other reason is that having to redraw (especially complex) drawings is really unmotivating since it makes you feel like a copy machine... (A copy machine that does a bad job xD!)
Another positive thing about using projection would be that I could immediatly lay in paint without having to worry about covering up my pencil\charcoal drawings.
Now what I've been wondering about this is what type of hardware I should buy for this. Could I use a simple overhead projector (50$\) or do I have to buy an advanced beamer (400+$\)? What do you guys use? And why?

5. Concerning brushes I've read quite a bit, one of the more confusing parts were the choice between synthetic or animal hair brushes, and what impact they have on painting. I've read for example in one article that I shouldn't use synthetic brushes because animal haired ones are much nicer, though in a tutorial I've read it shows alot of synthetic brushes in the required brushes list! Matter of opinion? Matter of cost? Matter of prestige?
Just something I'm curious about...

6. Tuesday I went to the art supply store and bought myself a massive amount of colours from the "Rembrandt" brand (After much consideration and research it seemed like a good choice... And I like their package design :p). I've also bought 2 tubes of Winter & Newton's Winston 200ml Titanium White (Student grade), which leads me to my question:
Is there a big deal in the difference of student grade or artist's grade paint when it comes to Titanium White and Ivory Black? I've read, heard, and experienced that I would use those two ALOT for my paintings and I've also read about some painters who use those colours in student's grade, and simply put, I just want another opinion on this matter.

7. Thinners, Mediums and other things...
THESE THINGS ARE SO CONFUSING! Sorry for my outburst there but if there's one thing that REALLY started confusing me it's these things. As you can see in photo #3 I've acquired some of these but about 50% was bought after uncertainties of the other 50%.
I've read SO much about these things but still can't figure out what is to be used for what. I'm just going to start and lay out some examples and hopefully you guys can help me out !
    When I bought this it seemed to be the thing I had to use to thin my paint and wash my brushes with (Together with the Bob Ross Odourless Thinner on photo #4).
    However after reading things like
    White spirit A cheaper version of low odor thinners and turps. Ok for thinning paints for underpainting, but probably not for quality work. Fine for cleaning brushes.
    I've come to the conclusion that I don't know anymore.
    Originally bought to make my own medium (1\3 Linseed and 2\3 white spirit), Now I've found out that it will make my painting more yellow if used :<
    Bought this after reading it's one of the most used and best thinner and cleaner for oil paints and brushes. After I went home I started finding articles though talking about how to NEVER use this for paintings and that it smells >.<
    Bought this after I found out it takes 5-7 days to make your own medium (let alone be succesful at it )
    Bought this after carefully re-reading the article on making your own mediums, finding out it said "Stand oil" instead of "Linseed oil". I've also discovered it can be applied directly to paint to reduce consistency of paint and brush marks.

I just don't know what to use for what anymore, and I'm concerned that my choices concerning usage of these things might affect the quality and\or lifespan of my work. This also relates to question 8...

8. Fat over lean, Thick over thin and all of those other names for this principle.
Basically from what I understand about it is that you have to use thinners with paint in the background (can't use mediums because it slows drying), use paint normally with WAY less thinner or A TAD MORE medium in the middleground and use medium with paint in the foreground.
Am I correct? This is one of the things I truly worry about duo to possible ripples and cracks.

9. Varnish
I've read a bit about varnishing but I want to know if I got the basics right...
Varnishing means applying a thin coat of varnish to the painting after about 9-12 months right? (making it dust\dirt\greasefree before you do that)
And one does this to retrieve original colors, making it dustfree for the rest of its lifetime and perhaps giving it a gloss or not.
Also, what if you don't varnish a painting? is it a big deal?
Also, would it be wise to let a professional do it instead?

That's about it for now... Made quite a post here I think ...
My most sincere of apologies for the massive overdose on questions from my part and a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE
thank you!

for reading all the way through !

Thanks in advanced for your replies and hopefully after reading some of your tips and awnsers I'll be able to learn a bit more about these things !
I will be certain to come back to this thread whenever another problem hits me !

Yours sincerely,