Oil Painting Materials, Supplies, Colors

Painting Tools, Materials


Titanium White 200 ml or 37 ml tubes

Ivory Black or Lamp Black

Ultramarine Blue

Cadmium Yellow

Yellow Ochre

Red Medium

Alizarin Crimson


Burnt Umber

Raw Umber


Flat Bristle Brush Size #2

Flat Bristle Brush Size #5 or #6

Flat Bristle Brush Size #10, #11 or #12

Metal Palette Knife (used for mixing paint on palette)

Linseed Oil

Stretched Canvas

Pocket Color Wheel

Artist Palette 
Oil of cloves Drops of clove oil are placed into paint to keep it from drying out over several weeks.

History of Oil Painting


One of the earliest – if not the earliest – artworks created by humans are paintings. As early as 15,000 B.C., man was portraying the world around him in cave paintings, such as those in Lascaux.
According to Wikipedia, oil paints were used in England as early as the 13th century for simple decoration. In the High Middle Ages, it is also possible that they were developed for decorative and functional purposes.

“Surfaces like shields– both those used in tournaments and those hung as decorations–were more durable when painted in oil-based media than when painted in the traditional tempera paints.”
Oil painting, as an art form, began to gain steam in the early 15th century. The invention of the art oil painting is often credited to North European painter Jan Van Eyck, who plied his trade during the Renaissance. Van Eyck wanted to mimic nature in his artwork and create highly-detailed paintings that would make his subjects seem alive and life-like. However, the existing painting techniques and oil technologies then weren’t suited to his pursuit of realism. Thus, he came to pioneer the art of oil painting, which became popular in his region of North Europe because it worked great in the cold climate there.

In the 16th century, oil painting began to rise in prominence in Venice, one of the centers of the Renaissance. The oil paint proved to be essential for painters who wanted a water-durable medium. Arguably the greatest oil painting was born in Renaissance Italy–Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint. Oil paint is usually mixed with linseed oil, artist grade mineral spirits or other solvents to create a thinner, faster or slower drying paint. A basic rule of oil paint application is ‘fat over lean.’ This means that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. If each additional layer contains less oil, the final painting will crack and peel. There are many other media that can be used in oil painting, including cold wax, resins, and varnishes. These additional media can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or ‘body’ of the paint, and the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke. These variables are closely related to the expressive capacity of oil paint.

Traditionally, paint was transferred to the painting surface using paint brushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists’ materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure. At times, the painter might even remove an entire layer of paint and begin anew. This can be done with a rag and some turpentine for a certain time while the paint is wet, but after a while, the hardened layer must be scraped. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch within a span of two weeks. It is generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year. Art conservators do not consider an oil painting completely dry until it is 60 to 80 years old.

Traditional artists’ canvas is made from linen, but less expensive cotton fabric has gained popularity. The artist first prepares a wooden frame called a “stretcher” or “strainer”. The difference between the first and second is that stretchers are slightly adjustable, while strainers are rigid and lack adjustable corner notches. The canvas is then pulled across the wooden frame and tacked or stapled tightly to the back edge. Then, the artist applies a “size” to isolate the canvas from the acidic qualities of the paint. Traditionally, the canvas was coated with a layer of animal glue (size), (modern painters will use rabbit skin glue) and primed with lead white paint, sometimes with added chalk. Panels were prepared with a gesso, a mixture of glue and chalk.

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