Saturday, January 21, 2017

Oil painting starter kit

Oil painting requires oil paints, of which I had none. As luck would have it, my Christmas New Year's presents included a gift certificate to Meininger.
This locally owned art store has everything an aspiring artist could need and then some.
I quickly found my way to the oils...
and was nearly overwhelmed by the dizzying array of paints... 
and supplies.
Fortunately, I had foreseen this problem and acted proactively. I came armed with a list of oil essentials written by my friend and mentor, Jennifer Scott. With her help, I was able to sort through the largess and create a really good model horse oil painting starter kit.
Since I know a lot of people would benefit from Jenn's advice, she has kindly allowed me to share her words here. The rest of the post is all Jenn!
For my technique, which is mixing a highlight, body, and shadow color blend while wet, I love Daniel Smith Oils followed by Grumbacher. You can't buy Daniel Smith locally in Colorado, so go with Grumbacher for your Meininger experience. As far as colors go, these are the  "basics" that will work for just about every horse color: titanium white, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and black. I like Ivory black as it's neither brownish like Mars is, nor blueish like I think Lamp is. 
If you really want to up your game, add Naples yellow, cadmium orange, and cadmium red to your basket. Metallics you can drybrush on in pigment form like Pearl Ex or mix in if you get the DS paints. 
Additives: I only use a drip of Cobalt Drier (do not touch this with your bare skin, EVER) per Highlight, Body, and Shadow mix. Any more and they dry too fast. No other additives are needed for my technique with these paint. Having said that, if I want to do finishing layers of dry-brushed oils, I will use boiled linseed to help spread the paint thinly. A little of this goes a long way as well. 
Cleanup - I love those Mona Lisa brush cleaning jars. They're glass with a plastic twist lid and have a metal brush cleaner inside to swirl your brushes over. You fill it with turpentine or mineral spirits. They last a loooooooong time. You'll still want to wash your brushes with regular liquid hand soap after the turpentine and reshape them when you're done for proper care. 
I have a pie pan with two pieces of printer paper in it (as they are easily accessible to me) for my paint palette, though I do want to get a roll of wax paper to replace the printer paper. I lay paper towels under the horse I'm painting so I have an easy area to wipe paint off my brush. 
As far as brushes go, I personally like small flat or angled soft brushes to apply the paint. I use a stippling brush I got from hobby lobby (they are very small ranging from 1/8" - 1/4" diameter and are angled rounds) to blend my zones. Then I take a very soft larger (like 1" wide) flat brush to very lightly go over once for a final soften and blend.
Thank you so much, Jenn, for the extremely helpful and thorough list. With your help, I really believe I can do this!


  1. I've always wondered what exactly went into oil painting and this is a great guide. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this! I'm thinking of making one more attempt at finish work, and oils are basically the only thing I haven't tried.
    Could we possibly get an addendum to this of suggested brushes? I'm starting from scratch here!

  3. Could you maybe explain what Jennifer meant when she was talking about the Cobalt Drier per H, B, and S mix? I'm unclear on what the H, B and S stand for. Thanks

  4. H is for Highlight, B is for Body, and S is for Shadow mixes.