30+ Oil Painting Tips for Beginners! {Sketchbook Sunday}

Hi friends! Every time I paint with oils I am filled with a warm pleasant feeling of coming home. Some of this enjoyable nostalgia might come from the fumes but mostly it is because there is nothing quite like the sumptuous feeling of an oil paint loaded brush gliding across the canvas. You have all the time in the world with oils, they won’t dry out on you while you are working no matter where you live and you can build up layers and transparent glazes to get a luminosity that rivals watercolor, only different.

Have you been curious about trying oils? Or maybe you dabble in oil paints but wonder if you might be missing out on a tip or trick that could make your life easier or save you some money? If so check out today’s video where I sake 30+ tips (or oil painting hacks) that will save you time, money and bring more joy to your painting!

Supplies (Affiliate links to Arteza and Amazon used. If shopping on the Arteza website use coupon code PROMO10 for 10% off your order)

Here are the tips (watch the video for ddetailed explanation)

  1. Start with a set of good quality inexpensive paints so you can see what colors you like and replace what you actually use with larger tubes of better paint (and see if oils are for you before spending much) Also, buy an extra tube of white.
  2. Use a limited palette for a more professional look.
  3. Start with loose sketch with a small brush and thinned down paint.
  4. After sketching block in colors in a thin coat.
  5. Use a disposable palette and scrape it off so you can reuse it again (it’s less wasteful than the paper towels you will need to clean a wood palette)
  6. Use paper towels for clean up instead of washable rags *rags used for oil paint can start a fire in your dryer
  7. Use a brush washing jar (or make your own) with a cleaning screen so you don’t waste paint thinner.
  8. Buy good quality paint brushes once. I like inexpensive synthetic hogs by Royal & Langnickle or Creative Mark. Be sure to clean them properly.
  9. How to clean brushes: rinse in thinner, wipe off excess and follow up with soap and air dry.
  10. Let your washed brushes dry before using with oils again.
  11. Follow the “Fat over Lean” rule which means your first layers of paint are thinned with solvent and last layers are thinned with oil to the top layers dry slower than the first layers to avoid cracking.
  12. Practice your drawing skills because with oils you will lose your sketch as you paint. Knowing to draw will let you draw in your minds eye and you know where your lines belong even after they have vanished.
  13. Use an adjustable board or easel to avoid glare and for comfort.
  14. When colors won’t stick let the paint set up overnight and then you can add a new layer with a softer brush. Remember the Fat over Lean Rule.
  15. Scrape off your palette when you are done for the day.
  16. Save big amounts of squeezed out paint by placing your palette in a sealed plastic try (like a Tupperware that you don’t need for food or in a zip lock bag) to keep it fresh for a few days while you work on your painting.
  17. You can also cover your palette with foil and stick it in the freezer according to many artists. The best practice it to only put out when you will use in a day IMHO.
  18. Have dedicated brushes for oil paints as you could deposit oils onto your other mediums if you use the same brushes for everything.
  19. Recycle old watermedia brushes for oils (but don’t use them for watermedia again)
  20. Save details for the end of a painting and use small brushes gently at this stage.
  21. Add linseed oil to dark colors to help it flow, keep the colors dark and keep your lines fine.
  22. Take your time, the paint dries slow so you don’t need to rush. You can paint in layers over days and weeks or paint “Alla Prima” or all at once.
  23. Have a spot to leave your painting to dry where it won’t be in the way or collect dust or pet hair. 
  24. Varnish your painting 6 months after your painting is done to protect it and even out the paint sheen.
  25. How to use oils in a sketchbook: First prime the page with acrylic gesso or you can do an acrylic paint under painting. This protects the paper underneath. Leave the book clipped open until the painting is touch dry.
  26. Save bright whits and dark darks till the end after your paint sets up a bit so it will layer on top.
  27. Use soft, blunt mop brushes for fans to soften and blend edges where needed.
  28. Use a glazing technique for adding depth and rich layers. Mix paint and oil together to make glazes. Glazes are transparent layers of color applied at the end of a painting.
  29. Buy larger tubes of the colors you really like as it costs less over time
  30. Try water mixable oils if you don’t like the smell or cleanup of traditional oils. 
  31. Add interest in a boring area buy adding spots of a complementary color. I added red in the muddy green foreground.
  32. Use warmer colors in areas you want to come forwards and cool colors where you want things to recede.
  33. Add texture and highlights by scraping into the paint film with the end of a brush or palette knife. This is called sgraffito. You can also apply thick physical textures with a palette knife. Thick passages of color will take much longer to dry.

If you enjoyed these tips check out my other free oil painting tutorials here. Til next time happy painting!


Easy Poppy to Draw and Paint! Learn Line & Wash!

Hi friends! Today’s project has a fun, modern and stylized look! If you have never done a line & wash before this would be a fun project to try. All you need is a waterproof pen and watercolors!

Watch the video to see how!

Supplies available at sponsor Jerry’s Artarama! Use coupon code: frugal20FS49 for 20% off $49 + Free Shipping (Excludes: Sale, Super Sale, Egift Cards, Buy It Try It’s and Vendor restricted items. Look for the green coupon eligible icon on the product listing.


I hope you give this a try. You don’t need anything fancy, a fine point Sharpie and your kids watercolor paints would even do the trick! Have fun and til next time happy crafting!

Sketchbook Sunday Fluffy Cat in Gouache

Hi friends! Today’s project was a challenge but it was fun to work through the kinks in this painting.

You can find the real-time version of this tutorial in Critique Club.
Every month you get a new creative prompt, 2 real-time intermediate/advanced tutorials and the ability to upload 2 paintings for an in-depth critique from me to help you grow as an artist. You also get access to previous months tutorials as long as you are a member. Click the link above to learn more or join today! *Some people join just for the tutorials, you only have to upload your work for critique if you want to.

Enjoy the time-lapse version and see how the piece came together.

Supplies (affiliate links to Arteza and Amazon, if shopping on the Arteza website use coupon code PROMO10 for 10% off)

I hope you got a chance to paint or draw today! Happy crafting!

One Drawing 2 ways // Sketchbook Sunday

Hi friends! Today for sketchbook Sunday I decided to draw the same subject twice. Once in marker and once in watercolor. Watch the video and let me know what one you like better!

Supplies (Affiliate links used)

That’s it for me tonight! I am late getting this blog post up because I got to spend the afternoon teaching an amazing group of ladies how to paint lilacs in watercolor! What a fun time! I hope you had a great day too and til next time happy crafting!

Something I drew on Vacation…

Hi friends! Can you believe it’s August already? Crazy huh? I have been busy since I got back from my week off but unfortunately I don’t have something completed, instead I have about 4 projects in the middle in various stages of drying, setting up or curing so today I thought I’d share a drawing of a mushroom I did on vacation:

I used my Inktense pencils (those have been way too neglected) and a few Prismacolors and a white gel pen. My sketchbook is Stillman & Birn Beta Series mixed media. I really like how it turned out. Honestly I didn’t do too much art on vacation. I read, relaxed and played with my family (including our new puppy Penny) most of the time. I really needed to recharge!

A couple of fun things to note!

  • Tomorrow (8/2/19) I will be at Accents on Harlow Street in Downtown Bangor from 5-8pm for the first Friday artwalk, Hope to see some local peeps there!
  • The new monthly prompt is up in Critique Club, it’s all about setting and achieving art goals. You can find in in the curriculum if you are a member and if you want to join you can do so here.
  • I am working on several new craft projects to share soon. I got such a wonderful response with my “10 Boho Jewelry Designs” video that I decided to put up a few more craft tutorials as folks were missing that kind of thing. Stay tuned for that!

I hope August is treating you kindly and til next time happy crafting!

Drawing from Imagination vs Reference

Hi friends! Today I am going to draw a cherry for Sketchbook Sunday. I recently got sent the 120 set of Arteza Everblend markers. 120 is A LOT of markers and I was so excited to use them so I sketched a simple cherry in my sketchbook. I wasn’t happy with how it looked but I didn’t have one to go by.

Left: drawn looking at the real cherry in about 35 minutes, right: drawn from memory in 5 minutes. I am using Rendr no show through paper and it does not allow blending at all. On Neenah these Arteza Everblend markers blend quite nicely.

After purchasing some cherries at the supermarket I decided to take another run at this sketch. I also swatched out all of the marker colors on strips of marker paper and taped them to the barrel of the markers so I could tell as a glance what I had (no marker caps are ever 100% accurate) This made the painting much easier to do. I also spent a lot more time on it as I could look atthe cherry and get much more information as to color, shading, cast shadows, and reflections. I could not really remember the details of a cherry so the sketch on the right (above) took much less time. I really enjoyed drawing this!

A note about the markers I used…

I just wanted to mention if you already have the 60 set of Everblend markers I would recommend getting the new 36 grey set and the 36 skin-tone set rather than buying the 120 set because you will have a better variety as all but 10 of the greys in the 36 set are in the 120 set. Only 3 of the skin-tone colors appear to be in the 120 set. Let me know if you would like a review or demo with the 36 skin tone set as I am thinking about getting it. I also noticed that Arteza is offering replacement nibs in their website now so I am hoping it means that liquid ink refills will be available soon because there is no way the nibs will wear out before use up the ink. Fingers crossed! Today Amazon has 25% off coupons for all of the Arteza marker packs (I have no idea how long it will last and I a forbidden to mention prices from Amazon-I got a nasty letter and everything LOL!) If you are ordering on Arteza’s website (they have free shipping on all USA orders) you can use coupon code PROMO10 for 10% off and their prices are lower so you just need to check both sites for the best deal accounting for coupons.



I hope you find some interesting things from real life to draw. It will also improve your knowledge and ability to draw from memory. I think if I had to draw a cherry now I would do a much better job and land somewhere in between the two sketches pictured above. Thanks for joining me for sketchbook Sunday and til next time happy crafting!

Sketchbook Sunday Berry Cake!

Hi friends! This week I have a fun experiment, watercolor on Rendr paper!

I really enjoyed using markers on this paper once I got used to it and I recently learned that this paper is suitable for many other medias so I decided to try watercolor on it. Watch the video to see the results! You can find real time version of this tutorial in Critique Club.

Supplies: (Amazon affiliate links used)

Why don’t you try your supplies in a new sketchbook and see what happens! Happy crafting!

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