Beginning oil painting/hesitating about materials and books
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    Beginning oil painting/hesitating about materials and books

    I have to wait about 12 weeks before I can sign up for drawing/painting lessons, so I really wanted to get a head start before I start with lessons.

    Besides my quest to learn how to draw, I really want to experiment with painting.

    So, I thought I would try oil painting.

    I did some reading on the boards and with the help of that I compiled the following lists of things I will order at this online store (because if I would buy it at my local art store the price would probably double!!).

    - Zorn palette of student quality oil paints (winton, using ivory black instead of lamp black, since apparently it will be easier to mix with other colors, at least for the beginner)

    - 1 x #6 flat brush, hog hair (brand is Vincent I think, it was the cheapest)
    - 1 x #6 flat brush, hog hair (winton, just so I can compare different student brushes)
    - 2 x 5.5 mm flat brush (Manet) ( 1 for light 1 for dark, just like the #6's btw)
    - 75 mL stand oil and turpentine
    - mixing palette (plastic, can be closed)
    - palette knife (plastic)

    I read that it's probably best to clean your brushes with vegetable oil first, after using and then washing them with soap… so I'll probably do that and only use turpentine if absolutely necessary. Not sure why I have stand oil on the list.

    I was just wondering if I'm buying anything that is just not necessary for the beginner or if there is something I'm missing that is indispensable for oil painting (apart from the canvas, I plan to just paint on gessoed card board/wood/make shift canvas/whatever is cheap at the moment, since I'm not planning on making any masterpieces anytime soon).

    Then, there are the books.

    I suppose, to be able to paint well you should have an idea on how to draw well…

    So I'm wondering the following:
    I have a really nice collection of books, mostly on perspective and figure drawing (Loomis, Bridgeman, Vanderpool, Nikolaides, Gurney, cheeseman-meyer to name some authors) but because I am lacking all of the basics, when my pencil hits the paper, it just makes me feel like Bambi on ice, trying to work from those books.

    Some people on CA suggested the book "Drawing essentials" by Deborah Rockman, but I've also read about Brian Curtis’ "Drawing from observation".

    Both seem to teach the same thing, and both are a little pricey.

    I'm not sure which one I should get and, with all the other drawing books that I have, would these books even be necessary? Do these really let you start from the basics (by that I mean learning to render the basic shapes and learning how each shape relates to the other in real life... if that makes sense)?

    I would also appreciate it if anyone could tell me what Deborah's book looks like… as in how her chapters are built up, assignments etc., As you cannot preview the book anywhere.

    As for oil painting, I heard there are two good books:
    one, "Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner" and two, Richard Schmid’s "Alla Prima”.

    Keeping in mind that I'm a complete beginner, If I can only have one book on oil painting at the moment, which one would be the most useful?

    I really tried my best to find all the answers on CA and other sites, so I apologize if the answers to my questions are obvious and I also apologize if this thread is repeating previous threads, but I appreciate any advice that comes my way

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    Something to paint on might be an idea. Get a few cheap canvases. Hardboard with some gesso would be good, but you need to prep those in advance.

    Add rags & kitchen roll. You might want a few more brushes.


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    Allrich's book "Oil painting for the Serious Beginner" is a better starting place than Schmid's. ANd Rockman's book is the best I've seen on observational drawing fundamentals. It's broken up into logical sections on basics/measuring, composition, figure and more - it's pretty heavy duty but that is a good thing.

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    Don't buy the Winton paints, they're crap. Spring for the W&N artist's line, or another proper professional brand, you won't be sorry. If you really want to keep costs down, don't worry about color at all and just start with white and raw umber.
    Since you're not using any resins that require turpentine to dissolve, go for odorless mineral spirits like Turpenoid or Gamsol instead of the turps.
    I don't know why you're getting the stand oil either. Plain refined linseed oil is probably a better oil to have if you are going to have just one.
    You'll want more brushes. In addition to the bristles, a few smaller synthetics are a good idea. Get a couple of small flats and maybe a round.
    Get a proper metal palette knife, plastic ones are useless, and metal ones aren't that expensive.
    A paper palette pad is probably more useful than a plastic palette, and cheaper.


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    To add...oil painting brushes are not very expensive. I recommend the Robert Simmons "Signet" line - in flats - get two of each of these sizes: #2, #4 #6 and maybe one #8.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    To add...oil painting brushes are not very expensive. I recommend the Robert Simmons "Signet" line - in flats - get two of each of these sizes: #2, #4 #6 and maybe one #8.
    You just brought back a bad memory out of nowhere. I remember earlier this year, I saw your suggestion to get that line of brushes. So...I went out to go get some since all my brushes deteriorated from bad use. I walked in the store and asked the guy at the front if he had some "Richard Simmons" signet series brushes. He came back with a really fucking fuzzy messed up brush and it took awhile to sink in what I had said and what he just did. FML

    BLAHBLAHBLAH
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    Oh, and as Ms Spot says... rags, rags and more rags. You can never have enough rags.

    Make sure the spirit pot to clean your brushes in is big and heavy; Heavy so you don't knock it over. Big so that it contains lots of spirit - don't go poncing about with silly cups...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Oh, and as Ms Spot says... rags, rags and more rags. You can never have enough rags.

    Make sure the spirit pot to clean your brushes in is big and heavy; Heavy so you don't knock it over. Big so that it contains lots of spirit - don't go poncing about with silly cups...
    Can someone translate this into American for me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Can someone translate this into American for me?
    She meant don't go faffing about and playing silly buggers with wee receptacles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    She meant don't go faffing about and playing silly buggers with wee receptacles.
    I believe Chis is a Christopher, and now can someone translate the South Afrikaner Translation into American for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I believe Chis is a Christopher, and now can someone translate the South Afrikaner Translation into American for me.
    Indeed, I'm sorry Mr Bennett. It's just... I wish you were my mom sometimes.

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    I Agree with whats been said but would recommend a glass palette over paper. One that you don't hold but sits on a table or beneath your easel. In my experience you tend to not clean a paper palette as much compared to a glass palette.

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    Man I wish I was Bri'ish!

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    I use a wooden palette myself. But glass sounds really interesting
    and its a good point about the cleaning.

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    Glass is good, it's what I use, as is wood, anything is better than plastic. Who the heck uses a plastic palette for oils? It would get scratched up and nicked by a palette knife in no time.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Glass is good, it's what I use, as is wood, anything is better than plastic. Who the heck uses a plastic palette for oils? It would get scratched up and nicked by a palette knife in no time.
    About any newbie who saw the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and ran to their nearest craft store.

    http://www.google.com/

    ...sorry, had to work that in there somehow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by karta tajba View Post
    People who are on a budget.
    Want to perhaps elaborate a bit?

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    I use plastic for my plein air boxes because its so much lighter than glass, but I swap it out twice a year for the very reasons you've listed. If you do go with wood make sure you oil it up after every session when you clean it they are like a baseball glove, and you want that oil patina to build up over the years.

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    Thanks everyone!

    Okay so I'll add to my list:
    - Rags (I suppose just regular kitchen cloths would do?)

    - big heavy pots (guess a giant pickle jar would do? )

    - Either paper or glass palette… I like the sound of the glass one better, less waste/easy to clean (I'm thinking about a glass chopping board, since it has these rubber sticky things beneath…. Wait a minute, my table is made of glass! I could just use that, I'm sure the scratches will give it a nice touch XD )

    - I'll go for the two colors of Winsor and Newton artisan paints … the only thing I'm curious about is… those high quality paints come in teeny tiny tubes compared to the 200 mL you get when you buy the student quality… I understand that this is all based on the size of your canvas, but, can I assume that you don't really need all that much oil paint for painting (perhaps compared to acrylics)?
    I'm asking 'cause if the tubes finish rather fast, I think I'll buy some extra tubes. I'll definitely double the white.

    - Cheap Canvas Boards to Start with

    - Switch the stand oil to linseed… not sure what gamsol is but I'm sure I'll find out soon! *Two to googlebile*

    - METAL palette knife

    - And if it's not too much trouble, change the brushes to the signet brushes (though, I have a feeling I won't be able to get them from the UK, so I'll have to buy from the US… anyone know of a decent online store that ships internationally? The first store I found was cheap Joe's?) Otherwise I'll have to look for alternatives.


    And finally, Jeff, thanks for the book recommendations! I was leaning towards those two, but now I'll get them for sure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebi View Post
    - I'll go for the two colors of Winsor and Newton artisan paints … the only thing I'm curious about is… those high quality paints come in teeny tiny tubes compared to the 200 mL you get when you buy the student quality… I understand that this is all based on the size of your canvas, but, can I assume that you don't really need all that much oil paint for painting (perhaps compared to acrylics)?
    I'm asking 'cause if the tubes finish rather fast, I think I'll buy some extra tubes. I'll definitely double the white.
    It depends on the amount of filler in the paint. You could get a big tube of student grade paint but it would actually have less paint pigment in it and more fillers (aluminum stearate, stuff like that), so you'd really need MORE, volume-wise, to get the coverage you need, as opposed to higher quality paint which doesn't degrade so quickly and which you need less of to get the results you want. Other than white the smaller tubes will do just fine for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebi View Post
    - I'll go for the two colors of Winsor and Newton artisan paints
    NO NO NO NO NO! Artisan are W&N's water-miscible oils. You don't want those, they're even worse than the Wintons!

    Standard studio sized tubes should last for a while, but if you're just getting umber, sure, get two, they're cheap. Get a big tube of white, all brands have them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by ebi View Post
    - I'll go for the two colors of Winsor and Newton artisan paints … the only thing I'm curious about is… those high quality paints come in teeny tiny tubes compared to the 200 mL you get when you buy the student quality… I understand that this is all based on the size of your canvas, but, can I assume that you don't really need all that much oil paint for painting (perhaps compared to acrylics)?
    I'm asking 'cause if the tubes finish rather fast, I think I'll buy some extra tubes. I'll definitely double the white.
    You can get artist grade Winsor Newton in 200 ML tubes just order from Dickblick or Jerrys artarama or Art Supply Warehouse online; whoever has the best price. Do a search for coupons for those vendors and you might be able to get free shipping or 10 or 20% off your purchase. The artist grade label looks like this

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    Utrecht oils are pro grade and usually cheaper than comparable brands, and just as good... Stay away from Dick Blick oils, the price is tempting but in my experience the quality is iffy.

    For brushes, you might want to try a synthetic filbert or two (medium and small,) I've found them invaluable for the more detailed stages of a painting. And maybe a couple of very small brushes (about size 1 or 2,) if you plan to be super-detailed.

    I use plastic plates from the grocery store for palettes - don't care if they get messed up because I usually use one per painting and throw them out after I'm done with the painting. (Okay, so I'm lazy.) Then again my palette isn't nearly as organized as some people's, so there's that... (It's chaos, like everything else in my life...)

    Oh, also... jars with LIDS. Then you can close them up after a painting session and use the rest of the medium/oil/whatnot later.

    And needle-nose pliers. You'll want them when the caps get stuck on the tubes of paint.

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; October 29th, 2012 at 04:17 PM.
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    Get your synthetic brushes from Poundland - not all of them are total crap. I have some that are still firm favourites after 6 months of abuse.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Formika = six-foot-tall drag queen and NY party hostess~ oh, wait, you said formica? Sorry...

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    It wouldn't have made any difference Blogmatrix. During our last house move, they were pointed to by my wife; "Why are we taking this rubbish?" she said... They are decorating some land fill site now.
    In the words of Basil Fawlty to his wife Sibil on the subject of missing out on a bet: "Well, you know best dear."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    It wouldn't have made any difference Blogmatrix. During our last house move, they were pointed to by my wife; "Why are we taking this rubbish?" she said... They are decorating some land fill site now.
    In the words of Basil Fawlty to his wife Sibil on the subject of missing out on a bet: "Well, you know best dear."
    If you had pictures on them, you might have convinced your wife that they are works of art rather than rubbish. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    NO NO NO NO NO! Artisan are W&N's water-miscible oils. You don't want those, they're even worse than the Wintons!
    Sorry! I got them mixed up.
    Thanks for the warning!
    (And thanks dpaint for the picture, I made sure to double check that I had the Artist’s range, before putting anything in my cart after seeing that).
    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    About any newbie who saw the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and ran to their nearest craft store.

    http://www.google.com/

    ...sorry, had to work that in there somehow.
    I feel really bad now for contemplating on getting a plastic palette.
    and I am working on it



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Good heavens, I turn my back for five minutes and look what happens!

    On the subject of palettes:
    I used to make my own.
    .
    that sounds like a really great idea. Perhaps I'll do that as a summer project (hopefully there will be a day without rain), if the RSI in my arms has settled a bit, because I cannot even imagine sanding down 10 layers of enamel at the moment!

    It really is a shame you have to you have to get rid of them, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    To add...oil painting brushes are not very expensive. I recommend the Robert Simmons "Signet" line - in flats - get two of each of these sizes: #2, #4 #6 and maybe one #8.
    thanks for the suggestion. Sadly I can't find that brand around Europe and ordering them from the US stores would cost me a small fortune. So, I'll save those brushes for when I really feel like treating myself.

    I tried to look at the brushes at my local art stores, but they were pretty expensive for brushes that looked like they'd been chewed up by a dog.

    In the end I went for the brushes from Rosemary and co as they turned out to be the most affordable and the reviews weren't too bad either. I figured, I'd just splurge a little and I got myself a bunch of different brushes (different fibres/shapes/sizes) to see what I like (including the sizes that you suggested).


    Now I have to wait for a month before my books arrive (Deborah’s is the 1st edition as I don't feel like spending double the price for the second edition, since I already have Gurney’s book when I'm curious about lighting/color), so I guess I'll just putter about with my brushes and paints until they arrive.

    I'm now also wondering whether making your own paints is worth the trouble… so far the consensus has been: why waste time making paints when you can buy them and have more time for painting.

    But, the materials needed are easy to get and it sounds like a fun idea. Kind of like …like making your own soap and such.

    In any case, I feel like I really have to step it up and get serious when it comes to my (practically deserted) sketchbook now!

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    I use a glass palette when I'm feeling like scraping stuff off it and freezer paper when I don't. Freezer paper is also a lot easier to haul around in a backpack.

    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

    "There are two kinds of students: the self-taught and the hopeless."
    - Dr. Piotr Rudnicki
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