Oil painting techniques can be hard to master when you’re new. But some simple, practical techniques can make the transition much smoother and help you paint with confidence. Here are some oil painting techniques artists should know!

Be Aware of Your Brush Orientation

If you’re new to painting, it can be easy to forget that your brush has two sides. There’s no need to limit yourself to always making wide strokes with the flat side of your brush. Every brush can be turned for different line weights. Play around with the orientation of your brushes and see what they can do! Learning to control your lines with your brush orientation will not only help you paint with more versatility, but it will also help you paint faster.

Vary the Amount of Pressure

Varying the amount of pressure you use can help you transform your painting. Sometimes the amount of pressure used to apply a stroke can make the difference between perfection and a mess. The heavier the pressure, the more the paint will blend and create ridges alongside the brushstrokes. Play around with light, medium, and heavy strokes and vary your pressure appropriately to achieve your desired effects.

Don’t Over-Mix

As a new artist, grabbing from every paint to make a new color might be exciting, but it very likely will lead to a dull, less intense mixture. It’s also important to make sure you only mix colors as much as necessary before applying the stroke. If you over-mix your colors, you will turn an interesting mixture into a flat, boring pile of paint. Practice mixing two colors with white. By increasing your color knowledge and getting better at mixing, you can paint more quickly and efficiently.

Try Wet-on-Wet

This is one of the oil painting techniques I use on occasion. There’s a lot of waiting time in oil painting, as you must wait for the coats of paint to dry completely before continuing with your work. But with the wet-on-wet technique, you don’t have to wait! This technique is also called alla prima and is when layers of wet paint are applied to previously painted layers of wet paint. This allows you to work quickly and mix layers on canvas, which is great for creating transitions and gradients. If you’re wanting to give landscape painting a go, this is the perfect way to get started, as you can finish the work in one sitting.

Begin a Painting by Blocking in

Whether you’re a new or well-seasoned artist, starting work on a brand new canvas can be intimidating. That’s why blocking in your paint is a great technique to utilize when beginning a painting. You start by applying general colors and shapes of the composition on your canvas using thinned paint and a large brush. In doing so, you’re creating a plan for your painting and ensuring the hues and other elements are in harmony. Then you build on those layers and refine the painting by adding more color and detail.

Don’t Forget the Palette Knife

The palette knife is usually considered a trowel used to mix paint, but consider it another tool to use while painting. It can be used to apply pigment to your canvas and create interesting strokes. Depending on the shape, you can create interesting textural stokes that couldn’t be duplicated by a brush alone. So, don’t forget to get creative and use tools like your palette knife to help you create your work!

Oil Painting Techniques

Hopefully you enjoyed learning these oil painting techniques and maybe even use some of them in the future. If you’re wanting some oil painting inspiration for yourself or are looking to support an artist and add some beautiful art to your walls, check out my paintings! And of course, if you have a question about one of my pieces, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for supporting your local artists!