How to Get Started with Oil Paints

Oil paints can be a very intimidating medium to use, especially when first starting out, but they're also a ton of fun and a great way to express your creativity. Here are a few key facts to know...

First, oil paints dry slowly, allowing for manipulation of the paint for days after being applied to the canvas. The oil paints also hold color and remain vibrant for a long time. Another great thing about oil paints is that they do not change colors once they dry and most paint brands do not yellow over time.

When you use oil paints, keep in mind that proper clean-up and disposal are incredibly important for safety reasons. The rags used to clean off brushes need to be disposed of properly at a local hazardous waste center. This is because the oils on the rags can be very flammable (and can technically spontaneously combust). Painting with oil paints also requires a medium of some sort. A medium is a liquid that is mixed into the paints to change it some way; some mediums thin the oil paint, others make it dry faster. Many of these mediums are chemicals that can have a harmful environmental impact, so it is very important to dispose of them correctly.

Oil paints can be expensive, especially for a college-student budget. So here a few options of oil paints that are still good quality and affordable: Gamblin’s 1980 Oil Colors are a great option. These paints are non-toxic, both when consumed or if they come in contact with skin. Blick sells them for an affordable price and in two different sizes. Another option is Winsor & Newton's  Artists’ Oil Colors. While these paints are a little more expensive, they have a much larger selection of colors.   

Oil paints may seem intimidating at first, but like with any art medium, all it takes is a little practice and knowledge.