Oil Painting: Everything You Need to Get Started | Steve Simon | Skillshare

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Oil Painting: Everything You Need to Get Started

teacher avatar Steve Simon, Simon Fine Art

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Workspace and Palettes


    • 3.

      Brushes and Knives


    • 4.

      Cleaning Brushes While Painting


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Painting Surfaces


    • 7.

      Cleaning Brushes After Painting


    • 8.

      Drawing Supplies


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Oil painting can be an enormously rewarding creative endeavor. Many of those interested, however, find it difficult to know where to begin. This class explains everything you need to know and the supplies you need to get started.

Meet Your Teacher

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Steve Simon

Simon Fine Art


Related Skills

Fine Art Creative
Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Welcome to Oil Painting with Steve Simon. Hello, I'm Steve Simon and this is first course in a ten course curriculum on oil painting. In this course, we'll be looking at quite simply, just getting set up. If you haven't painted noils before or relatively new to oil painting, you may have discovered this can be a little bit of an overwhelming process to try to figure out what is it I need, how does this whole thing work? A little bit as I say overwhelming and maybe even a little bit intimidating. My job in this course is to streamline that process. I will be hopefully simplifying it as much as possible and then allowing you just to cut to the chase. To get started, you might be wondering, what kind of brushes should I be acquiring? What kind of paints? How do I set up my workspace with easels and palette? What surfaces should I be painting on? How do I go about cleaning my brushes? All of that and more will be answered in this first course on how to get set up. 2. Workspace and Palettes: So here we are, welcome to my studio space. Just a broad sweep of the corner of my studio that I use for painting with a couple of easels. Set up table where I put my palette on, just chest of drawers where I put all my paints and other supplies. I don't normally have this second easel set up here, but I just wanted to pull that out called the French easel. We use this mostly for painting outdoors. People that paint on the go would use something like this French easel or something called the poschad box. We'll get into that when we paint outdoors. But over here, this is the easel I use in studio. As you can see, it accommodates a larger canvas, or in this case, I painted on wood panel a little bit about lighting. I live in New Hampshire, a little bit of a dreary day out there. Ideally, the light coming in from the window, ideally should be from the North. Mine is a little bit Northwest, can't really move my house to accommodate that need, but the reason for that is the temperature of the light. You don't want bright yellow direct light coming into the studio. It can cause color shifts. Also the light that you may use to illuminate your space, which you're definitely going to need some light, should be daylight temperature, which is something like 5,000 degrees Kelvin. In other words, a daylight bulb works best in your space. Again, you don't want color shift happening in your color judgment. To talk a little bit about palette, I, I just purchased actually a tempered piece of glass. Put it on this white board that sits on my table. You're going to find that glass is just really nice because you can get in there and scrape off paint once it's hardening somewhere to swear by using more of a neutral background, I find white works fine in terms of maintaining colored judgment. There are, however, a couple other options. One option, as you may have seen over on my French easel, is this palette wood color. Again, more of a neutral background, a little bit of a finger hole. If you're really dynamic painter where you're moving around a lot, then something I use also for outdoors, are these disposable palettes. It's a waxy paper, you don't have to worry about scraping paint off, you just throw the whole thing out once your oil paint is drying or hardening onto the surface. 3. Brushes and Knives: On to brushes and knives. Firstly, brushes come in two distinctly different styles, natural, bristles, and synthetic. Then they come in different shapes. First off is a natural brush. This is natural hog hair product produced by Blick. You can get on **** Blick.com This is, as you can see, a bright brush. Now what a bright means is it's flat along the top. It comes in contact with your painting and the pristls are relatively short. This happens to be a size eight brush and sizing. Again, it is really a matter of personal preference and how large you're going to be painting in this course. We're going to be painting mostly pretty small canvases. We'll talk about as we get into each painting, a little bit more about the size of the brush. But I would say certainly nothing larger than a size 12 you're going to need for any of the paintings in this course. This size 12 natural brush is flat on top, but you'll notice the bristles are quite a bit longer. This is what's referred to as a flat. These two are similar in that the tops where you're coming in contact the painting are flat. But the brights have the shorter bristles, the flat, the longer bristles. You probably want to invest a little bit in both of those to get a feel for what you're most comfortable with. There is going to be some subtle differences in application of those brushes. Next up is our Filberts. This is really the workhorse of the oil painter. This has a rounded top, the bristles, the length of them will vary quite a bit from brush to brush. That's our fill. Then there are natural, again, this is actually sable hair, small round that I use for details like I don't know, maybe like the white spot, white highlight on a pupil or something like that. I've pulled this one out because it's also a round but it's synthetic synthetic round. Then another synthetic flat on top, long reversals. So we would call this a flat. Those just a quick rundown of brushes. I've purchased all these from **** Blick.com Great source for anything that you're going to need for this course now. Next the painting knives. Again, the knives really come into different flavors for the different functions. You can see it's got a lot of use. This is my mixing knife. This is going to be the knife I used to mix colors on my palette. Sometimes we're going to be a palette knife like this, other times just be mixing with your brush. Then there's a variety of knives that have different shapes that are your brush painting knives. We'll get into that as we go along as well. 4. Cleaning Brushes While Painting: To clean your brushes while you're painting. Some people object to painting in oils because they claim they're sensitive to the solvents that are used in painting. It can be a problem for some people, but really if you're using the right supplies, it really isn't a problem. I highly recommend this product by gambling called Gamsol for cleaning your brushes and thinning medium. It's an odorless mineral spirits. It's really the odor of mineral spirits that bothers people if it bothers you at all. When I paint, I generally have that window over there cracked and just encourage the fumes out that window. Even have a fan that I set up that blows it out the window. If you're concerned about VOCs, that thing, I would recommend a well ventilated space to try to encourage those fumes out the window gas by gambling a couple of different choices in terms of cleaning your brushes. This is a more substantial set up. I like using this in studio. Reason being is if I've got a little paint on the brush and in between I want to clean this up, it has this break down here that does a really good job at taking the paint off. Then you're going to need just a paper towel set up to dry off the brush. This is also handy because while you're painting, you're going to be using more than one brush. And this provides a nice little stand to put your brush on. I've taken the palette out of my French easel just to show you that there's also these containers for cleaning it. Brush that clip on to your pal, which is handy when you're outside. And you're probably lifting this up to get paints out underneath and that kind of thing. It's nice to have that capacity. And they also come with a second container for your medium. This would be your solvent to clean brushes if you're using medium, which I do so only very sparingly, you could put it in that second container once this starts to fill up with paint. In other words, this is obviously going to get dirty from cleaning your paint. The nice thing about this little screen down here is it prevents your brush from getting down into that cookie paint down there. Eventually, that's going to fill up enough that you're going to want to dump out this Sam salt that's in here. What I end up doing is I pour it into just any old jar like this. Then I let that settle. If you take a look, you can see that the bottom is the paint that's been cleaned off has settled on the bottom. Even if I shake that up, it barely moves. There's just a thick layer of paint down there. In other words, it separates out by itself. I can then pour this back into my Pam bottle. What I end up doing, I use a funnel to pour this back into my Gal container. I get a lot of mileage out of one of these jars of gas. Really, in the end, the only thing that I'm depleting is when that is coming off on the paper towel. 5. Paints: Onto the good stuff. The paint paint come in a variety of qualities you're going to find there's like a student grade professional grade. Then even grades beyond that, I use professional grade oil colors. Mostly I use Gambling and Windsor and Newton. There's a big discussion among artists. If you talk to any artists about what their color palette is, boy, you're going to get a variety of different answers. In one of the lessons in this course, we're actually going to be using specific color palette called the Zorn palette for doing portrait painting, which is a very limited palette. There's an argument to be made for limiting your palette that creates more of a color harmony in your work. In one of the early lessons of this course where we learn how to mix paint, we're going to be using a specific set of colors that I've laid out here. And that is a, and a cool, warm and cool, warm and cool of each of the three primary colors. The reason for that is we're going to be mixing each of the worms in the cools to create the purest primary color. Then we're going to be using those primaries to create the secondaries and so on. I've added burnt umber into that, which is, let's call it a universal darkening agent. Then there's a variety of different whites to use. I prefer zinc white. This again, is a gambling product. 6. Painting Surfaces: Now let's talk about the surfaces you can paint on or what artists refer to as supports. Firstly, the simplest and most economical, and what I would recommend for this course is just the canvas panel. When you do buy these, I would recommend taking a look at the reviews for any of them online and see if people are talking about them warping or not. That's one of the problems with these canvas boards. It's just chipboard in there. Particularly if you start buying these larger sizes, they can have this tendency to warp. Is your painting dries. It's particularly true of acrylic painting because you're using water. And when that water des, funky things can happen, these really economical. And what I would recommend for this course, one of the things we talk about which supports is the reason we're painting on canvas in general, is it has what artist referred to as a tooth, a rough surface that enables the paint to grab onto. Okay. This is a good too. It's what we call primed. In other words, Jesse, I'm going to talk a little bit about Jess in your own supports as well. That's the canvas board. I also like to paint on wood. Plastic wrapping wood obviously has a lot less tooth than canvas. It's a less rough surface, but it's rough enough that you can paint on it. Now I don't recommend painting directly onto the wood but rather using artist plaster. We call Jess really, it does just look and feel like plaster but it's artist white Esso again, I get this from black **** Blick.com You're going to just use just a rough brush actually. The rougher a brush or more bristly the better and just code it. When I paint on wood, I use two coats of Jess. Baltic Birch is the best of the wood surfaces to paint on. This is actually an example seen I painted from Grand Canyon on a hiking trip, I went there. It's an example of Baltic birch panel that actually comes what's called cradle, this cradle. I've painted these edges as gold. I do that before I paint the image, and then I just put a hanger on it and then this can serve as a finished piece. Don't necessarily need to frame it, or if you want to, you can still frame around the cradled wood. Then lastly, and perhaps most commonly, what we find is stretched canvas, right? This is probably what you're used to seeing. Canvas is stretched over stretcher bars and then staple along the edges. Sometimes you'll find these with weather stripping through there. Those are nice if your canvas ever starts to get loose and that can happen, you can see this is tight as a drum to tighten that back down. You can spray this with water. And as the water dries will cause a subtle shrinking and it'll tighten the canvas back up. This is just an example of stretched canvas. This is a commission piece of Granellic Glacier and Glacier National Park that I still need to send off to the customer. Those are the different kinds of supports. There is the opportunity also to stretch your own canvas. Now, I do this very rarely because supports are just so readily available, especially stretched canvas in so many different sizes that there's usually not a need to stretch your own canvas. But if you do, it does come up with me. Sometimes there's a specific space that needs to be filled or whatever you're going to need to buy your own stretcher bars, buy your own loose canvas, and then you'll need of these crazy pliers. That's actually a canvas stretcher enables you to pull on the canvas. And this little thing provides leverage on the stretcher bar to pull the canvas over. And then you'll need the staple along the back side edge. I hope that helps you in terms of the supports. Again, for this course, I just recommend relatively small, like eight by ten or 11 by 14 canvas panels of canvas boards, that will serve you well. 7. Cleaning Brushes After Painting: Just a quick tutorial on how I go about cleaning my brushes in your studio. Of course, you cleaned up your brush with your solvent as much as possible. Then I use one of the what's called silicoils. I put walnut oil in here. It's actually a really good medium for cleaning off the paint off of your brushes. And it's like fighting fire with fire. We're using oil to actually clean the brush. Then there's a couple brush soaps on the market you can buy. Or even just a bar of soap works fine, which is what I just normally use. You can just the off of there, the excess oil paint. What you're really trying to do is get into this base down by where the bristles meet what's called the fair rule. This metal thing here. This is what will kill a brush before it's time. If you get paint and gunked up in there and dried up in that base, you really just want to work that out. I do recommend a dish glove, especially if some of the paints have cadmium or cobalt in them. You really don't want to be bringing that into through your skin. Just work out the oils in the media or the paint out of the brush, taking particular interest in that area down by the base, Rinse it off. Use not hot water, but warm water. If your brush gets it all misshape and just massage the bristles back into place. Some artist will even leave a little bit of soap on the brush, and as the soap dries, it forces the brush to maintain its natural shape. 8. Drawing Supplies: Lesson, lesson two. We're going to be working on our drawing skills. You're going to want some, a sketch pad as one of these regular erasers that we're all familiar with is fine, but I recommend a needed eraser. Looks like this. It's almost like Plato thing, pencil. Eventually, when we get to lesson five, where we're exploring the classical academic painting method, you're going to want some vine charcoal. You can decide whether or not you want to buy that ahead of time if you're going to be participating in lesson number five. 9. Final Thoughts: Last point I want to make is setting up your workspace to facilitate proper painting posture. So firstly, just the proper painting posture is if you're right candid, it's right foot forward. Obvious sleep. Your left handed, let's work forward, but I'm right candid. So demonstrate. The posture is right foot forward, the left foot is back. Similar to, think about it like we're throwing darts. That posture that you would take throwing darts or to point and shoot free throws. It's basically wrist, elbow, shoulder, all in the same line. You know, we don't want to be painting like that and we don't want to be painting like this. To facilitate that right foot forward posture and standing back from the canvas is going to help us take in the broader picture as we're painting. We already too close, too narrowly focused on spill, taking everything in this proper posture. To facilitate that, I put my palette off to my left side. Whether it's that my body as I'm working out a palette over here mixed to naturally turn this way. And I haven't a natural rhythm like that. If I were to put this palette will be here, I would be turning this way. And it would almost encourage you to do the wrong thing. Does that make sense? Hope that makes sense. Thanks for watching this whole video and seeing it through each of our lessons has a project associated with it. I presented a lot of equipment, supplies, materials in this. You can certainly make your choice what you think is relevant to you. Each of the lessons will have the specific list of items that we'll need for those lessons. So maybe you have some of this stuff are your, maybe you just want to acquire stuff as you go along. Each of our lessons has a project. Quite simply, the project for this lesson is to collect what you think you need. I would love to take a look at what you've assembled and how you've set up your work sticks. Thanks again and happy, pay.