How to put together a beginner’s oil painting kit
- Paint tubes: primary colours
- Linseed oil and solvent
- Selection of natural bristle paintbrushes
- Surface to paint
- Palette for mixing paint
- Metal or glass containers
- Rags and gloves
In order to achieve a full spectrum of colours by mixing a minimum of colours, have the following paint tubes on hand:
- Lemon yellow (or light cadmium yellow)
- Medium cadmium yellow
- Light cadmium red (or medium cadmium red)
- Alizarin crimson (or quinacridone crimson)
- Phthalocyanine blue
- Ultramarine blue
- Ivory black (or Mars black)
- Titanium white
Since every paintbrush has its own unique features, it is best to have a variety of different sizes on hand: a large, flat paintbrush is as important as a small, round one. It is preferable to choose long-handled paintbrushes and ones with natural bristles, which are less prone to damage from solvents. Hog bristle brushes are more resilient, while sable bristle brushes are softer.
Supports for oil painting are traditionally cotton or linen canvases. Since oils can damage new canvas fibres, it is simpler to choose a support that has been prepped with gesso. Cardboard canvases and canvas paper pads are economical options for sketches and studies.
Disposable wax paper pads are very handy for mixing paint. Alternatively, a wooden palette is a more ecological choice. Cover your oil palette with a cellophane sheet to keep the paint fresh or clean the palette with solvent before the paint dries completely.
Oil paint is not water soluble. To change its consistency, you have to add oil or solvent. Solvent is used to dissolve oil paint: keep a small container of clean solvent on hand for mixing with paint in order to create thin base layers that will dry quickly. Keep another small metal container of linseed oil on hand to liquefy the paint for finishing details. Keep in mind that adding oil to paint extends the drying time.
Solvent is also used to clean paintbrushes. It is preferable to store it in a metal or glass container. The container can be equipped with a brush cleaning screen, a drying rack and a hermetic lid (solvent can be reused, but will evaporate if left uncovered).
Metal spatulas are best suited for oil paint and come in a variety of shapes. They can be used for mixing paint on a palette or for applying masses of paint directly to a canvas.
It is strongly recommended that you wear gloves or use a protective cream to avoid prolonged skin contact. Oil paint tends to spread to paintbrush handles, palettes and hands, and is harmful when it comes into contact with skin (this paint is not recommended for children). Even if it is odourless, solvent can irritate the respiratory tract as it evaporates. Always paint in a well-ventilated area.