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Getting Started with Oil Paints

Lesson 8 of 13

Oil Paints Tools and Supplies Q&A

 

Getting Started with Oil Paints

Lesson 8 of 13

Oil Paints Tools and Supplies Q&A

 

Lesson Info

Oil Paints Tools and Supplies Q&A

And I have to say, having tried all these materials, they're different brands, but they are all available at Blick, and you can order this stuff online, which is so cool. So, let's shift our gears here and talk about surfaces you would paint on with oils, and there's a variety. One of the things I wanna show you is soaking and stretching paper. Now, standardly, you would not oil paint directly onto any surface of paper because it's going to absorb the oils, the oil will go right through the paper, and it'll take forever to dry. So, typically, I mean, people can paint on a pure linen surface or a pure paper surface, but the absorption factor is an issue, so you generally gesso, and I'm gonna show you how to do that in a minute. But when I'm preparing paper, if I wanna work on paper that I'll gesso later, I would soak and staple it. So, I pre-soaked this piece of paper, which just means I put it into lukewarm water, wet both sides, and put it onto a plywood surface. You can use plywood l...

ike this. It can be, this is actually a quarter inch. You can kinda see the thickness. It's a little heavier when it's a quarter inch. Eighth inch is a little lighter. But if the board gets too big and it's a thin board, it's lighter, but it can also buckle and bend, so as I mentioned with acrylics, to create a surface that won't necessarily bend, you would gesso a kind of X, you'd paint an X on the back of the board to kind of resist and make that buckling stop, because it's going to create a tension, an opposite tension on the opposite side. But with a board this thick, not an issue. In addition to plywood, you can also use what's called homosote, it's H-O-M-O-S-O-T-E, and homosote is a kind of particle paper board that's generally about a half inch thick. It's much lighter than plywood, and you can buy it at the art supply store, you can buy it at the hardware store. It's just called homosote, and it's a wonderful surface to staple paper onto as well. So, I'm just gonna show you what I've done here. This is a piece of standard cold press watercolor. And this is loud, I apologize for the people in the studio. It's really loud. But what I try to do when I'm what they call stretching a piece of paper is I soak the paper, and then I staple along the edges, and you can see I try not to get too close to the edge, because when the paper stretches and it dries, it pulls tight like a drum, and you don't want it to tear. So, I gotta turn this around, 'cause I'm a lefty. Now, this is a heavy-duty staple gun. You can't use a standard office-style staple gun. It just won't go through the plywood. Maybe it would with the homosote, but it won't, like, bounce back. You can see, I'm stapling the staples roughly an inch apart. If you go much further, the paper can buckle because there's too much space between the staples, so I would staple all around the edge of this. I won't do it because it's just too loud and annoying to listen to, but I would staple all the way around, and then I would put this board in front of a blow drier, or put it in front of a fan, which is even easier, and just walk away, and that will dry this paper perfectly flat, so every time you activate it, it's not going to buckle, and when you gesso this surface, which you need to do if you're gonna use oils, it's not going to go anywhere. It's gonna stay really, really flat. So, stretching your own paper is kind of a nice thing to do. When you finish after gessoing, painting a picture, you simply use what's called an Xacto knife. Let's see if I have one here, which is this. This is a very tiny little blade. They come in different sizes. Using a ruler, you would cut your paper right off of the surface, and you could reuse this board. Now, what I do to get the staples out, once you've cut the paper off, you've got this little edge, this rim of paper with the staples in it, I would use a butter knife with a nice little tip, or I would use one of those, I don't know what you call that tool that you use to take staples, a staple remover, I suppose, and pull these staples off the surface and reuse this board. So, as you can see, this is a beloved board. It has many, many staple holes all over it. I've had this for years. This is just something I found in my house. You can go to the hardware store. It doesn't really matter. There's nothing fancy about the surface that you might soak and staple paper to. Okay, so let me put that aside over here. And now I wanna show you, I pre-gessoed a surface, and I'll tell you what the gesso is and what its purpose is. This is Blick's Artist White gesso, and basically, the gesso is a plastic paint. It's paint bound by a kind of plastic that dries pretty quickly and basically seals whatever surface you're painting this gesso on. Now, what I just showed you is a piece of paper. You could paint over wood, or paper, or a canvas. Now, these are pre-gessoed. You buy them this way at Blick. This has gesso on it, but it's just basically, it's linen. Now, you know, you could buy it or you could make it yourself. If you're a real purist, and there are some people who are, you might actually the board, create this. And this is not expensively made. These are just held together by staples, but make the frame, stretch the linen across the surface, then gesso it yourself. But, you know, I think to get started, buying it premade is a lot easier. They're not very expensive, and this is a really nice surface to work on. It's a different surface than this. So, why would you use a hard wood surface or masonite covered with gesso versus canvas? This is really subjective. It all depends on what feels best to you, and the difference between the two is that a gessoed wood surface is going to have a different kind of push back or feel to the brush, the pressure of the brush or the palette knife on the surface, versus the give back of the canvas. And the other thing is the texture. There's a very specific weave. I don't know if it's visible, but the gessoed canvas is picking up the linen fabric, and so it's that texture is what you're reacting against with the brush, and you could sort of see it when I demonstrated how the brushes work earlier. The gessoed surface on the wood is basically burying the grain, and all you're seeing and feeling is the streak of the brush that brushed that gesso on. So, I'm gonna show you the brush to use for that. And again, gesso is not an expensive paint. It's just a sealer. It's keeping all the oil paint on top of the surface of the gesso. It's not letting any of the oil absorb into the wood, or in the other case, into the linen. So, it's a pretty thick paint. As you can see, I'm not watering this down. Typically you wouldn't. You want it to be fairly thick. Most people, when they gesso, they gesso several layers, and the reason why they might do that is because they wanna make sure there's no little spots where the wood is shining or showing through, where it could get absorbed, the oil could get absorbed into the wood. And I also want a consistent surface. But what you're probably seeing, I hope it's visible on the screen, is that what the texture is is mostly this brush. Now, this is an inexpensive brush that can be used for laying down a ground, it can be used for doing gradient for a large painting, but it's not an expensive brush. This is just a manmade fiber, and it's specifically, I use this brush only for the gesso. I rinse it out well, but that's all it's used for. You could use a house painting brush if you wanted, but that changes, you know, a brush with a stiff bristle's gonna create more of that streak, that drag. The softer the brush, there's less streak. This is actually a pretty soft brush, but there's still a lot of the streak of the fibers. You also can see that I'm going in two different directions, just because I wanna make sure that that paint is really consistently on there. There's no big blobs of the gesso, that it's consistent. So, you can see I'm going two different directions, I go sideways, I'm gonna do this a couple of times. The other thing that people do is they might go vertically, fully let it dry, which takes maybe 10 minutes, then go horizontally, fully let it dry, so that they're weaving a kind of paint surface to work on. So, this is pretty good. I feel like it's a pretty consistent surface, so I'm just gonna do one more streak. And all it is is you're trying to create a consistency about the texture created by the brush. Now, this side is fully dry. It put it in front of a blow drier to make sure that it was dry, and that took, like I said, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Put my brush beside because it's wet. And what I wanna show you here is, and the best way probably to know it is to hear it. I hope it's not an irritating sound, but this has not been sanded, so listen to the sound of this. (scratching) You can hear that pretty well, right? Okay, now I'm gonna sand half of this. Now, the reason why, the rag comes in handy, the reason why I sanded it is because I'm trying to take some of what's called the tooth or the texture of that gesso off. You can sand this down to a smooth, beautiful surface. But again, if you do that, you're removing the mark that was created by this brush, and by removing the mark, you're gonna create less texture. When the paint lands on it, you won't see a texture. You'll see just the texture of the brush you're using. But listen to this. Super quiet. Rough, smooth. So, there's no right or wrong way, it's just a matter of when you hit this with color, and let's just do a little test. So, you know what I'm gonna ask you. Which color? (laughing) Can we do something like an olive green? We can! Or are you looking to just use the standards? We will now combine colors to make an olive green. Actually, you read my mind because I was thinking these colors are meant to be interactive, like we saw on the color chart, so let's not just use pure pigment. Let's do a little bit of color mixing. And generally speaking with oils, there are two ways you can make the color. You can mix it on this palette, as I'll show you. You can also layer the color or glaze it like we did earlier where we glazed a piece of color on top of a patch of color that was already dry. But in this case, we're just going to mix it and lay it on without using a glazing technique to make the color. All right, so let's see. We might use a little bit of this brown, burnt sienna to make our olive green. Now, you might say, well, how do you know that that's gonna make olive green? This is where experience comes in handy to know what colors make what. But if I didn't know, I would grab my handy-dandy chart, and I won't put it down because there's wet gesso below us. But I would say, okay, how do I make olive green? Well, we can see all the different ways that you can make the olive green. So, I grabbed the cadmium yellow, and I grabbed a green, and it's basically what we'd be making is somewhere in here, but then I mixed some of the burnt sienna in it to make it more like this kind of a color. So, it's roughly what we have here, but I'm actually using three colors to make it. That's because I don't have exactly all these colors right up in front of me, so I'm improvising. But the chart's really helpful because then, you know, you've got your formula right there. So, I'm going to mix a little bit, and now I'm using, I'm just gonna show you that, with oil paints, because of the density to the color, you can use paper towel or you can use a really nice rag, and this is, I say nice rag, an old rag. This is really a wonderful thing because it's sizeable, it's soft, and I'm just gonna blot with this as well. The other thing I wanna mention is that, for cleanup, you do want to have warm to hot soapy water to clean your palette or your brushes for oils. Same for acrylics. So, cold water works, but it just takes a lot longer. Now, let's just see if this is olivey enough. You said olive green, yes? Yeah. Okay, so I mixed those three colors together. I neutralized the green with a little bit of the red, the yellow, to warm it up just a little bit. Okay, so here's our olive green. Now, let's just test and see what it looks like on the texture. Oops, I don't wanna touch that side. The textured side. I can see, I'll thin it out with a little bit of linseed oil so I can really see it. I can really see the texture of that gesso. It's pretty clear to me. I don't know, I hope it's visible onscreen as well, but it's not just the texture from this brush, it's that tooth and texture of the gesso. So, there's two things going on there. The feel, the pull of the texture of that surface and how you viscerally react to it as you're painting, and the texture it creates in the visual of the painting. So, let's try doing a little of the same thing, but I'm gonna use the, I only slightly sanded it. I mean, you can do this for a while to get this super smooth. But it should be a little bit smoother. I'll use a little more linseed oil. So, a little bit smoother. I'm seeing more of the streak of the brush than I am of the gesso, but I'm still seeing the gesso. The primary difference is, in this case, the feel. How it feels to the brush is really quite different from here to here. This feels like I'm painting a bumpy surface. I can feel the difference. And here, it glides on really smoothly. So, part of the difference as well has to do with the fluidity of the color across the surface. And visually, it may not look terribly different unless, if you sanded this down quite a bit, you put a few layers of gesso and you really sanded it, you would get it to be smooth and streak-free. And that's really, I think the sandpaper is meant to do that, but even with the slight sanding that I did, I took some of the tooth down, it literally feels different. So, I think in this case, it's visceral and feel as opposed to the visual, but I can still see more of the play of this brush down here than I can up here. It feels like it's grabbing the color, and it's also making it a little bit more dry brush, and it's the same amount of linseed oil here to here. All right, so I'm gonna rinse that. Now, you can see this is drying, and you could also see that streak is really strong. So, if you didn't like that, you don't want that coming through your color when it's really transparent, you would definitely sand this down, even between layers of gesso, and people do that as well. And those are, you know, people who want a super, bone-smooth surface. Other people love the streak, so it's very subjective. The other thing I wanna show you on the gesso, I'm just gonna use white. I want you to see some opacity of color, and we can use it with our olive green here. I'll grab my brush back. I just cleaned it with a little water, but I'm taking the water out so it doesn't interact with the color. Okay. And this is just a little bit of opacity. The other thing, I just want you to see, when it's opaque, you really don't see what's going on underneath, and you don't feel it as much because there's already pigment there. So, I love the blendability of oils. It's just delicious and delightful. But again, I'm using a round tip brush. You could use, you know, multiple brushes to do what I'm doing. But I'm trying to play with the swirl of this color and it feels really good. Okay, so that's what the opaque color looks like there. Let's try it down here. And it has the same sort of reaction. It moves with even more fluidity than you would normally expect with the gesso up here. Okay, that feels really good. So, I'm gonna move this aside.

Class Description

Are you interested in working with oil paints but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to the world of oil paints. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a painting practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to pick up a brush and start experimenting with oils!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of oil paints and how they work
  • Which brushes and papers to use with those paints
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium



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