How to Begin Oil Painting in 10 Steps – A Short Summary

There are millions of posts and videos about oil painting on the web. And believe me, I have read and watched thousands of them. So, what you will read is (I hope) a short summary of all those instructions.

  1. Visit and watch Mark Carder’s videos on color mixing and painting a still life. Study his method. If you have the budget, buy his paints. If you don’t, any student grade paint will do just fine for the exercises.
  2. Stop thinking about painting for a day, or a week. Read good literature, for example Bel Ami from Guy de Maupassant. Observe the world, contemplate the light and shadow.
  3. Think of the objects with single local color at home. Jugs, vases etc. Examine them. Choose a favorite one. The one that you really like.
  4. Draw it twice with pencil on paper. First without measuring, and then with measuring the proportions with your pencil and your thumb.
  5. Buy a pastel pencil and a small canvas.
  6. Draw the object on canvas with pastel pencil. (It’s easy to erase with hand). Rest for one day. Keep the drawing away from toddlers.
  7. Place the object next to a window. Prepare 7 to 10 shades (values) of the local color using Mark Carder’s method.
  8. Paint the background completely black around the pastel pencil lines.
  9. Finish painting the object in one session. Remember not to make repeated strokes at the same point: Once you put the paint down, don’t disturb it. Take a step back frequently to examine the painting. And always enjoy the process. If you make a mistake, it’s always easy to correct with the surrounding color.
  10. Post the painting in Wetcanvas oil painting forum and watch out for the constructive criticism. Start a new painting. Experiment with different subjects and compositions.

I hope this simple roadmap helps you to start. You can share your opinions below.