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Before You Buy Oil Painting Supplies

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Oil paints are very popular because they dry slowly, enabling you to work with the paint for quite a while after you've applied it to a canvas or board. Once the paint has dried, it can be overpainted without disturbing the original paint. Straight from the tube, oil paint is thick and buttery. It can be diluted with thinners all the way down to a transparent wash. Here are some tips on buying oil painting supplies.

Shopping List for Oil Painting Supplies

Oil Paints

Obviously the first thing you need for your oil painting supplies is some paint. Traditional oil paint comes in tubes. Rather buy quality primary colors and perhaps secondary colors than a range of cheap paints. Some manufacturers produce fast-drying oils in tubes, water-mixable oils in tubes and pans (blocks), and oil bars (paint in stick form, not oil pastels).

Primers for Oil Paint

Canvas and boards must be primed before being used for oil paints. Oil primers must be put over a coat of size. Primers made for acrylic paints can be used for oil paintings. These dry quickly and do not require any sizing underneath. If you're painting on paper, put down at least one layer of acrylic primer (if you don't, the oil paint will eventually destroy the paper).

Brushes for Oil Painting

Stiff hog-hair brushes are ideal for thick oil paint. Cheap hog brushes work as well as the more expensive ones, they just don't last as long. Use soft sable brushes, or the cheaper synthetic alternatives, for washes where you don't want brush marks to show. Try brushes with both long and short handles and different head shapes to see which you prefer.

Mediums for Oil Paints

Mediums are used to dilute color, increase gloss and transparency, reduce drying time, and avoid overthinning. You can buy ready-mixed mediums or use various forms of linseed oil. Read the description on the bottle to see exactly what a medium does. For very thin washes, mix a medium with thinners, otherwise there may not be enough oil to bind the pigment.

Thinners or Solvents for Oil Paints

Thinners are used to dilute oil paint and to clean your brushes and palette. The most traditional solvent is turpentine, which maintain the oiliness of oil paint. Adding white or mineral spirits to oil paints makes a watery mixture. Look for low-odor solvents and always use in a well-ventilated room. Solvents sold in hardware stores are not artist's quality and can cause yellowing.

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