How To Start Oil Painting On Canvas For Beginners

How To Start Oil Painting On Canvas For Beginners

Oil painting on canvas is a fascinating hobby that can be an excellent way to express your creativity and showcase your talent. However, if you are a beginner, it can be a bit overwhelming to start with. But don’t worry. This article will guide you through the process of starting oil painting on canvas.

Choosing the Right Supplies

Before you start painting, you need to have the necessary supplies. Here’s what you need:

Canvas: You can choose from a variety of canvases in different sizes and shapes. Some of the common shapes include square, rectangular, and circular.

Oil Paints: There are a variety of oil paints available in the market, ranging from student-grade to professional-grade ones. As a beginner, you can start with a set of basic colors like titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and ivory black.

Palette: A palette is essential for mixing your colors. You can choose from a variety of palettes like plastic, glass, or wooden.

Brushes: Brushes come in different shapes and sizes, and each brush is used for a specific purpose. As a beginner, you can start with a set of synthetic brushes.

Solvent: Solvent is used for cleaning your brushes after painting. Mineral spirits or odorless turpentine are good options as they are not harmful and have a mild smell.

Easel: An easel is used to hold your canvas in place while you are painting. You can choose from various types of easels like tabletop easels, standing easels, or studio easels.

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Preparing Your Canvas

Once you have all the necessary supplies, it’s time to prepare your canvas. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Prime your canvas: Priming your canvas is essential to provide a smooth surface for your paint to adhere to. You can use gesso for priming your canvas.

Step 2: Sketch your design: You can sketch your design on the canvas using a pencil. Keep it simple, especially if you are a beginner.

Step 3: Mix your colors: Mix your oil paints on your palette using a palette knife. You can use a color wheel to help you choose your colors.

Step 4: Start painting: Dip your brush in your paint and start painting. Follow your sketch and paint your design.

Techniques for Oil Painting

There are different techniques that you can use for oil painting. Here are some of the most common ones:

Blending: Blending is the technique of mixing and smudging different colors on the canvas to create a smooth transition.

Glazing: Glazing is the technique of applying thin layers of paint on top of each other to create a luminous effect.

Impasto: Impasto is the technique of applying thick layers of paint on the canvas to create texture and depth.

Scumbling: Scumbling is the technique of applying thin layers of paint in a transparent and non-uniform manner to create a broken effect.


Q1: Can I use watercolor paints on canvas?

A1: Watercolor paints are not suitable for canvas. They are typically used on paper. However, you can use acrylic paints on canvas.

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Q2: How long does it take for oil paints to dry?

A2: Oil paints take a long time to dry, and it can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks for them to dry completely.

Q3: Can I mix acrylic and oil paints?

A3: You should not mix acrylic and oil paints as they are incompatible with each other.

Q4: How do I clean my brushes after painting?

A4: You can clean your brushes using solvent like mineral spirits or odorless turpentine. Rinse the brushes thoroughly and reshape the bristles to avoid damage.


Starting oil painting on canvas can be a bit intimidating for beginners, but with the right supplies and techniques, you can create beautiful paintings. Remember to prepare your canvas, mix your colors, and use various techniques to create texture and depth. Happy painting!

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