Oil Painting

Course Outline



Getting Started



Supply List 

Limited Palette:  split primaries - warm and cool of each primary

Cadmium yellow light
Cad yellow medium

Cadmium red light
Alizarin red or magenta

Ultramarine blue
Cerulean blue

Titanium white

Color and Color Mixing


To learn to:

mix color

brighten color

dull color

shade (darken) color

tint (lighten) color

develop  color schemes

arrange colors on your palette

                keep colors clean


Color Wheel

Value scale

Color swatches

Color charts                       

Color bias grids

Complementary color chart

Copy of favorite painting

Color Vocabulary






Attributes:             Hue           Value         Intensity


These will be good brushed to start.  You will eventually need some bigger ones.
 I use mostly flats.  I like them because to me they are the most versatile and easiest to keep clean.  Flat brushes have longer bristles so the paint doesn't get down into the ferrule (the metal part) as easily. 

You will need both bristle and soft synthetic brushes in each size:

Sizes 4, 6, 8 (It would be great to get 10 and 12's, too.) The sizes vary according to company.  I don't understand why there is not a universal sizing system for  brushes.  The bottom line is get  small, medium and large brushes in both synthetic and bristle. 

My favorite bristle brushes are the Robert Simmons Signet brushes.  I like the Silver  Bristion for the soft synthetic and I found some very inexpensive soft one called Qualita Angular Creative Mark.  They have short handles, but they work well and if you get them on sale they are a great bargain. 

Miscellaneous things you will need:

Small palette knife
palette paper
canvas boards
gamsol (odor free turpentine)
paper towels (I like Viva the best)

Tool you might want:


______________Available at this link_

#1 -  First assignment

VALUE  -:   create a value chart - 10 increments from white to black.  You can do this on poster board or even paper, but it is good to keep the value chart near your easel to be aware of values in your paintings. 

Exercise to show how value creates form:
Paint same object 4 times going from weak value differences to strong value differences.

#2 -Color - get to know your paints

COLOR/Color Bias
(Temperature) - add photo of assignment

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/387942955372008380/ -click on this link to see color charts from Richard Schmid's book:  Alla Prima

WHY:  Temperature changes add variety and interest to your paintings.


This is just one of the ways to start a painting.  I've used this exercise with students to show the stages of a painting.  It could be done loosely with more deliberate brushwork. 

lower left

1.  Start with a wash of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna or anything that gives you a dark gray/black.  Do a very loose drawing.  Wipe out the lights with a paper towel 

upper left

2.  Next paint large shapes of light and dark with color in the values you did in Step 1. (start using opaque paint on the light side of the object, keep to transparent thin paint on the shadow side)

top right

3.  Start refining the shapes of light and dark, add the mid-tones for the reflected light and where light meets dark on the apple.

bottom right

4.  Refine even more, add the highlight, apply paint on background and foreground,  work on edges to include some sharp edges and soft edges.  Include some green in shadow.

The point of this exercise is to do the painting in layers.  It also helps to maintain the darks if they are established first. 

Hal Groat Demo - painting cherries

Edges and Brushwork


Why is brushwork important?

It determines the "look" of the painting which is part of your style.  Helps you create a painting that has soft and hard edges. 

Gives your painting variety.  Probably lots of other reasons. 

Use  your brushes in different ways. Use both bristle brush and soft brush to makes as many different  shapes as possible:  strait lines, wide lines, dots, etc., etc.


Flat side of brush

With bristle and  soft brush

load the brush
drag the brush
lay the paint on thickly

thin paint
thick paint

use light pressure
use heavy pressure

Terms to know:

pentimento-  scrape off the top layer of the painting and what is remaining will be a soft version of whatever you were painting.  Often it looks better than what was there and that is because  the edges are soft which is the way the eye sees and, therefore is it pleasing to look at. 

scumbling- use opaque paint to paint over the underpainting and let parts of it show through.

glazing- mix TRANSPARENT  paint with medium and paint over a layer that has dried.  For example if you paint over a dry layer of blue with a glaze of yellow, the final layer will look green.

This painting shows a variety of edges. 




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