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  1. #1
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    Oil Panting Help

    Hey all,

    I have decided to pick up some oil painting, but I have never done it before. So I have a few questions:

    1. Do I need pro oil paints or will the lower quality student's oil paints work for starting up?

    2. What are the best colours to start out with that are absolutely neccesary in my painting kit? (please give full colour names)

    3. Brushes best suitable? Round, flat, natural, synthetic....?

    4. Other props that I need?? Linseed oil? Turpentine?

    5. ohh forgot, how big the tube? How long does one last, they re quite expensive ....?

    Any other advice?

    Thanks, all help will be greatly appreciated

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  3. #2
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    The student quality paint will be just fine for your needs. The difference between them and the pro-paints is noticable, but you don't want to spend a lot of money if you're not sure that it's something you're going to continue doing.

    Absolutely necessary colours? You'll get a lot of varying opinions on the subject. If you're just starting out, cadmium red middle, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow middle, viridian green, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber and titanium white would probably do you just fine (anybody else, feel free to contradict me on this!). Black can be useful but beginners have the tendency to misuse it, so I'd stay away from it if you're just starting out.

    For brushes, get a variety of sizes and shapes. The rule of thumb I've found is that for oil, get natural bristles, and for acrylic, get synthetic. Whatever works for you though. Just don't spend too much money! A $5 brush is still a brush and it's better to wear it out now and get another one later than spend $40 on a brush and realise you'll almost never use it.

    I hate turpentine--smelly, gives me headaches--but you do need a solvent to clean your brushes and mix in with mediums. I use taltine (a.k.a odourless mineral spirits) and I've had good experiences with turpenoid as a brush cleaner (but not really to mix for mediums). One thing I've heard is that those citrus solvent things are horrible, awful, bad for you. They're very toxic.

    You're probably going to want to thin your paint, and for that you'll need to know a bit about mixing mediums. What I like to use is a mixture about half linseed oil, half taltine and a little bit of alkyd medium (for faster drying). As you start your painting, the rule of thumb is to use more solvent, and as you get closer to the end use progressively more oil. The more oil you use, the slower it will dry. You can use these mediums to make glazes (basically, it's a lot of medium with very little paint to get a transparent effect...a paint that has a transparent quality like pthalo blue and burnt sienna will work best for this. Opaque paint like white and the cadmiums will not be good for glazing).

    Oil painting is a complex subject. I've only been doing it for a few years, so I'm sure the more experienced people will be able to tell you a lot more than I can.
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    There are literally thirteen bazillion threads asking exactly the same question, most of which I've contibuted to. A few carefully chose search terms will get you enough information to make your head spin.

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    1. Do I need pro oil paints or will the lower quality student's oil paints work for starting up?
    student grade will do when first starting out.
    however, a good brand is not that much more, and will make a HUGE difference.
    i use "rembrandt" brand paint, which is often less expensive than "winton" student paint.
    the real cost comes in what colors you buy, not what brand.
    certain blues and purples, for instance, can be VERY expensive.

    2. What are the best colours to start out with that are absolutely neccesary in my painting kit? (please give full colour names)
    what palette you use is very personal.
    it also depends on what you will be painting, landscape, portrait, etc.
    below is a good starter palette:
    titanium white
    ivory black
    alizarin crimson
    cadmium red
    cadmium yellow
    yellow ochre
    transparent red oxide ( or burnt sienna will do)
    cadmium green (or yellowish green <much cheaper)
    sap green
    manganese blue pthalo
    ultramarine blue
    raw umber


    3. Brushes best suitable? Round, flat, natural, synthetic....?
    i start every painting with a really large bristle brush, shape doesnt matter.
    then i use synthetic filberts, sizes 8,6,4,2
    and i finish detail with a size 1 "liner" brush (basically just a small round)

    4. Other props that I need?? Linseed oil? Turpentine?
    minimum...turpenoid.
    linseed oil is also good.
    every artist has their own special concoction of what they mix with their paint.
    mine is:
    MEDIUM:
    1 part Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
    1 part Odorless Turpenoid
    A few drops of Cobalt drier

    5. ohh forgot, how big the tube? How long does one last, they re quite expensive ....?
    small tubes will do (37 ml), except you should probably get the big tube of white (150 ml)

    Any other advice?
    yeah, dont use canvas board, it sucks.
    a good artist can produce a decent work with just about any materials.
    however, bad supplies will make it unneccesarily difficult.

    what/how you want to paint will define the surface you work on.
    big bold painting works well on canvas.
    but if you want to paint tiny detailed things, the canvas will drive you insane.
    try using illustration board instead, with a few thin coats of acrylic gesso to prime it.

    i posted a really lengthy tutorial a while back:
    http://69.16.210.25/forums/showthread.php?t=45901

    hope that helps.
    good luck, and be sure to share what you paint!
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    If I may, I'd like to ask one of my questions in here: what are this illustration boards exactly? maybe it's because I am a little german dude and so it might only be a matter of translation-problems but here in germany I searched for "illustration boards" and I found nothing. The only thing that we seem to have over here are so called oil painting papers and canvas/canvas-boards.
    So please help me and tell me what these illustration boards are so that I don't have to import anything from the US wich I can get in our next door art-store as well.
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    Illustration board is basically archival quality cardboard. It's thicker and heavier than paper, but not as thick and rigid as masonite or wood panel. It's a good painting surface but not overly expensive.

    Crescent is the biggest manufacturer I can think of, so perhaps a search for "crescent board" would work?
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    I love to use strathmore illustration board, also. I fine it's good for alot of different things, Even for bigger graphite work. It's so smooth that you won't get those little "pores" like you do with regular sketchbook paper. It's like working on really thick bristol.
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    Gloom, Illustration board is a hold-over from the pre-computer days. It's CARDBOARD, DUDE! But nice cardboard. Comes in a number of weights. If you have a piece of Mat board handy, it will give you some idea of how thick standard weight illustration board is. There's a version twice as thick, and I have seen specially-made versions four and five times as thick.

    It was used in the advertising industry for decades to produce mechanicals/keys/art-for-pre-press and to do quicky illustrations for the trade. The board is just l stack of very stiff paper finished off on top with a good quality white layer of paper or thin board that takes ink and paint fairly well.

    There are different finishes: Cold-pressed (sort of rough--almost like a smoothish watercolor board), hot-pressed (smooth enough to draw on with a technical pen like a Leroy or Rapidograph without snagging), and sometimes, you come across textured boards that have an embossed surface so they look like a phoney canvas, linen or a pebbley surface.

    If you're going to use oil paints on it, you should coat the board with a few coats of gesso, with a light sanding between. Coat the back, too, or the bastard will roll up on you like a tampon tube when it dries.

    Should be available in various sizes (15"x20", 20"x30", 30"x40" or whatever metric is close) at any place that sells mat board and artist supplies. Don't get mat board by mistake. It's too absorbant, and the top layer of paper is real shit and will delaminate right off in front of you when water hits it.

    Primary manufacturers are Crescent, Strathmore, and I think Letramax makes some.

    In some countries, it might be called "art" board. There's also lighter weights called bristol board, and if you can't find anything else, look for a watercolor board that's not real expensive, but these tend to be rough-surfaced and they're hard to draw on with a pen.

    hope that helps.
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    FooXoo, DSIllustration's list is very good place to start.

    Student grade oils aren't real bad if you get a better grade, but nearly all of them are full of shitty fillers like clay and stuff that makes 'em hard to work with in glazes and thinned applications. The filler also makes the color mixing a bitch, because the colors come out all muddy.

    If in doubt, go for one of the mainstream brands in small tubes if you're on a tight budget. The difference between even the worst of the pro paints and "student/crafts" shit is incredible.

    There's a rule of "fat over lean" that is very important in oil painting that a lot of people forget. Always use thinned paints (turp, whatever) for the initial painting, then use "fatter" or thicker impasto applications over it. Otherwise, you're fighting yourself, and the art will crack and dry unevenly causing you a lot of problems later.

    One way to speed up a painting if you're on a tight deadline is to use water-thinned acrylics as the underpainting (dries in minutes) then work with oils over it. As long as you don't pile the acrylic on with a shovel, there shouldn't be a problem.

    And watch black oil paint. It's gross. Takes forever to dry. (Almost as bad as white.) Mix your darks from other colors. Addining black can extend drying time by as much as SIX MONTHS.
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    Altough Elwell is right that there are many many threads about this topic,
    it is always nice to learn something new from the more advanced.

    I will give that "cardboard" a try.
    Until know i used just oil paper block (next to panels and canvaz)
    which is glued on the backside to the next page; not really that great but good enough for sketches.

    I bought a "acryl paper" a day before with a weight of 360g/m&#178;,
    so will this work as cardboard or has it to be much heavier?
    Bristol paper, which is the heaviest paper in my artstore (there aren&#180;t really much in Germany) has a max. weight of 925g/m&#178; but has just a smooth surface.
    Enlighten me!

    Xaya

    [edit] I remember i saw a picture of Rockwell painting some of his illustration on something looking not really different from a more thicker paper.... what&#180;s that?[edit]
    Last edited by Xaya; March 23rd, 2006 at 04:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Interceptor
    I love to use strathmore illustration board, also. I fine it's good for alot of different things, Even for bigger graphite work. It's so smooth that you won't get those little "pores" like you do with regular sketchbook paper. It's like working on really thick bristol.
    I looooooooove Strathmore illustration board .
    Unlike most boards, it's white paper all the way through, not just paper mounted on chip board. If you're gessoing, or using any water based paints, it absorbs the moisture far more evenly, dries smoothly, and there's never any danger of delaminating. Like Interceptor says, it's great for drawing too, because it's practically bulletproof. You can erase heavy black areas back down to pure white and rework them repeatedly without damaging the surface.

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    erase heavy black areas back down to pure white and rework them repeatedly without damaging the surface
    Thanks for the tip Elwell, sounds like I should be looking into using this stuff too... I'm a big-time eraser.
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    Great information! Thanks DS and everyone else.

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    thanks dudes. actually that was what I thought that illustration board are, but honestly I can't find this stuff here in germany, lol, kinda strange
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    There are literally thirteen bazillion threads asking exactly the same question, most of which I've contibuted to
    yeah, I lost me enthusiasm to give broad pointers after about the first 5 or 6 of these I saw. There must be a huge pile of them submerged at the bottom of the Fine Arts and Discovery forum with a 200 lb. chain wrapped around them
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    honestly I can't find this stuff here in germany
    I don't know what the shipping would be like, but you should be able to order some online from maybe http://www.pearlpaint.com/ or http://www.utrechtart.com/ or try the "where to buy" at http://www.strathmoreartist.com/fine_art_index.html

    it is worth it
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    Wanna hear a paradox?

    I just ordered newsprint paper block and a drawing board in www.dickblick.com - the total cost is 15 bux, but as I live in Europe I have to pay 36!!!! bux for shipping!!! WTF (and if I fedex it it s 110!!!! bux for itoms totalling in 15 bux).

    I wish I had a Dick Blick art store here, or at least an Europen online store ....

    Thanks for all the help guys, I ll keep all that in mind.
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    'Aye' on the Strathmore 500 - http://www.dickblick.com/zz133/05/
    the only illustration board I use anymore

    I have to disagree about the student grade oils. I found it extremely difficult to work with paints from Winton, Daler-Rowney, Grumbacher-Pre-tested (not as bad) - and I believe they slowed down the learning process. For just a few bucks more much higher quality paints from Winsor&Newton (artist colors) , Rembrandt, Gamblin ,etc.. are well worth the price. You may want to wait before getting Old Holland and Mussini paints, but that's ok.

    I think the best thing for you to do now is
    1.) Go to museums and look at some awesome paintings. Reproductions in books and online can really help and benefit you, but remember that a good majority of paintings in museums were meant to be seen in person - not for reproduction. Because of this you will not see all that these paintings have to offer you.
    2.) Start painting -now! You kind of have to dive in. Start showing us WIPs in the crit section...bother all of us painters with PM's saying "help! help!"
    I do it We will all be able to help you alot more once we can start seeing stuff.
    3.) In desperation take those pics you've been posting and send them to famous living painters asking for help...you will be able to write a book on painting within a year.
    Good luck!
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    I'm a stingy bastard so I spend most of my money on the Cadmiums and the Titanium whites, then go cheaper on the rest, unless they're a colour like Alizarin Crimson (which has those awful flakey things in them if it gets too thin).
    I use flat synthetic brushes (that are kind of stiff) because they don't leave bristle marks and the flats have a broad side, and can go thin on the edge, like calligraphy.
    Cold pressed linseed for me. Not liquin. It dries quickly, and is just awful. Unless of course you need something to dry quickly... Turps for cleaning brushes.
    I paint on wooden boards too. Surface is preference. I hate canvas, since it's not slick enough. Paper is good too, but like others said you have to prep it since it soaks up paint like a sponge.

    Erm, other tips: cleaning brushes on rags = highly flammable. Get lots of fresh air. Turps are *bad* for the braincells. Um, oil paints have led in them, so don't get em into wounds, eyes, etc.
    Oh, cleaning brushes well and then keeping them slick in oil is important, because otherwise you end up like me - with 14 good vampire stakes.
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    I wish I had a Dick Blick art store here, or at least an Europen online store
    I once used to date a girl who worked at a warehouse location. funny how much stuff would come in "damaged" and get set on the "free to employees" rack.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavePalumbo
    I once used to date a girl who worked at a warehouse location. funny how much stuff would come in "damaged" and get set on the "free to employees" rack.
    I used to work at an art supply store and we had a "free to employee" rack as well.... and yes, it was a shame how much "Old Holland" paint would get damaged... luckily I was always the first to "notice"....


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    I need to change workplaces. asap. lol
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    I'm piggybacking this thread: I have a related question, I searched for this info in past thread and I found this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell
    Good advice so far. Of the brands you mentioned, I've used Schminke's Mussini line and Rembrandt. They're both good quality lines of paint. Mussini are more expensive and slightly higher quality, and are ground in a proprietory mixture of resins and oils, rather than straight linseed oil. Rembrandts are ground to a softer consistancy than many lines, some folks like that, some don't. I'd probably go for the Rembrandts if I were you, they're cheaper and you wouldn't appreciate the special qualities of the Mussinis until you had some more experience.

    Buy a good quality white in a large (pound size) tube. Some studio sized tubes of paint may literally last you for years, but you'll go through white faster than anything, as almost every mixture will have at least some in it.

    When I teach, I start people out with just grays, then a simple warm/cool palette of ultramarine and burnt sienna, then the "Zorn palette" of black, white, red, and ochre, and finally to a full, but still limited palette. Here's the handout for when we move into full color:

    Expanding the Palette


    So far in class we have used several limited palettes, including the following colors:

    White: PERMALBA or a similar titanium/zinc mixing white. Individually, titanium can be chalky and overwhelming, zinc is cold, transparent, and slow drying. A mix of the two makes a good all-around white.

    Black: IVORY BLACK, A dark, transparent black. Warm when used transparently, cool, almost blue when mixed with white. A slow drier.

    RAW UMBER: A dark, cool brown (actually a very dark yellow), very fast drying. Useful for neutralizing grays made with black and for underpainting, and for darkening warm colors.

    ULTRAMARINE BLUE: A dark, transparent blue tending towards purple.

    BURNT SIENNA: A rich, transparent brown tending towards red-orange. Neutralizes ultramarine almost perfectly.

    YELLOW OCHRE: A dull, mid value yellow.

    CADMIUM RED LIGHT: Bright, opaque red orange.

    We will now add a few more colors:

    CADMIUM YELLOW LIGHT: A bright, opaque light yellow. Very useful in small amounts to keep the warmth of reds, oranges, and greens in light tints. Mixes bright oranges with cad. red lt.

    VIRIDIAN GREEN: Dark, transparent blue-green. . Mixed with ultramarine it gives a range of blues, with cad. yellow lt. a full range of bright greens. (Pthalo green is similar, but much harder to control)

    ALIZARIN CRIMSON or a more permanent substitute: Dark, transparent red-purple. Mixed with cad. red lt. it gives a full range of reds, with ultramarine a full range of purples. It also neutralizes viridian, giving blacks that tend from purple to blue-green. Alizarin is less lightfast than used to be thought, so many more permanent (but also more expensive) substitutes are now available. The best I've found is Rembrandt's PERMANENT MADDER DEEP.

    These ten colors will give a wide gamut of possible mixtures, and have a good mix of transparent and opaque pigments. It's still a limited palette, but a versatile one. If you want to expand still further, you could add more earth colors (burnt umber, raw sienna, venetian red, mars violet), more cadmiums (medium and dark shades of yellow and red, cadmium orange), or more cool colors (permanent green, cobalt blues and greens, cerulean blue, manganese violet...). The possibilities, needless to say, are endless, but this is a good start.
    My question is: I want to start doing more glazes (after reading about underpainting) and I have a mix of opaque and transparent paints, I'd like suggestions about colors that work better for glazing. I don't see transparent light reds and yellows in the list.

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    I'd like to piggyback this thread as well. I tried to read everything here and elsewhere, but I may have missed something.

    What's the big deal with linen? Is the expense really worth it in terms of visual appearance?

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    Foxoo,

    What is it that you'd like to accomplish with your painting? Do you want to learn about color or do you want to approach your painting in a tonal way, working with a limited palette and maybe glazing over it?

    What I've found that gives satisfying first results is doing quick color studies. I start out with a primed canvas of grey and paint simple still lifes with one direct strong light source to get an obvious separation of light and shadow. Block it in with burnt sienna and turp, keeping the paint thin. Start out by identifying the most obvious colors first (usually pure hues of cad yellow, cad med red, cad orange etc.) Then use these colors to help you figure out the less obvious ones. Apply your paint thickly so that your colors will not be transparent and mislead your decision making process. Be bold with your color statements because the pigment will always get duller with mixing. Mix paint directly on the canvas instead of the pallette.

    I'm sure that there may be some overlap between this and the tutorials in the forums. Look into Josef Albers book, Interaction with Color, if you want to study color. Also Wayne Thiebaud's paintings are an excellent source to study. You can't go wrong with most oil paints. Pick strong primary hues and worry about your mixing instead. I had an art teacher who told me it was very important to buy professional grade paint instead of student grade. (It's true that it's measurably better.) $150 later and several weeks in, she looked at my work and exclaimed that she'd couldn't figure out how I'd managed to make such expensive paint look so cheap. heheh.
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    I prefer linen over cotton canvas primarily because of the feel. I like a medium-smooth to smooth weave in linen and I will pay the extra $$$ because I feel I can achieve better brushwork on it. Now are you talking about pre-stretched linen, or rolls of linen? Primed or Raw?

    Usually the price tag starts getting very high when you start getting into pre-primed canvas/linen. For a linen roll that is sized with rabbitskin glue and than primed with lead oil primer - you are going to shell out some cash. You can save a little $$$ with an acrylic primer, and the surface is still quite nice to work on. You can save a lot more money by buying raw linen, sizing it, and priming it yourself. Lead-oil primer takes several months to dry - but people who work on lead-oil primed linen swear by it.

    I have used lead-oil primed linen in the past - it is quite nice to work on. All the brushstrokes rest on the surface...and the brush flows smoothly and lightly over the surface. Unfortunately I don't have the time to prepare a roll of linen all the time so I do purchase a pre-primed roll when need a change from working on masonite or illustration board. I just got this as a gift a few days ago, and although I haven't started painting on it yet it feels really nice and I think it will be a good support :http://www.dickblick.com/zz073/00a/
    Not a bad price at all. I must warn that it is 10 times harder to stretch linen that is already pre-primed with multiple coats of oil primer. It becomes very stiff and heavy , and is very hard to get it crease free.

    What I think it comes down to - what feels best to work on for you? There are plenty of painters who work comfortably on cotton canvas. As long as you pay attention to how you apply your paint and how much medium you are using, your work should last well past you are dead and anyone can nag you about it.
    ******************
    *:*www.scottaltmann.com*:*

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