How to Start Oil Painting

1. Know What Kind of Things You Want to Paint

English: (Painter) Carla Jones at her Art Studio in Quito, Ecuador

I’ve said this before in my post about becoming an artist if you haven’t even so much as drawn a stick figure. You will be more excited, more passionate, and have a much easier time if you like the thing you’re learning to paint. When you’re struggling somewhere along the way, you’ll be more motivated to learn how to get over that hurdle.

Now, it’s okay to change your mind every so often, especially if you’re just starting out, but as you keep getting better at art, and maybe even want to start it up as a business, you may find that it’s much better if you stick to one kind of thing. Your skills won’t be spread out across so many subjects, and potential clients generally like consistency.

2. Have the Right Kind of Materials

There are hobby grade and student grade paints and canvases, but, unless they’ve gotten much higher quality since I’ve written this, I strongly advise AGAINST using them. It’s better the invest in professional paints and canvases because they last much longer, are more smooth as you’re painting on the canvas, and you don’t have to use as much of it.

I mean it. When you use the cheap materials, you have to use a lot. Higher grade oil paints are actually much cheaper in the long run because you don’t have to use as much to get the results you want.

As for brands. I highly recommend Golden Colors or Gamblin. Gamblin especially is a highish mid-range brand and produce very good materials. Not only that but they are dedicated to conservation. They do a lot of good work with art conservators.

These Gamblin oil paints are less than $8.00 per tube.

This Gamsol paint thinner is oderless, nontoxic, and lasts a long time. You can pour it in a glass jar, wait, and the paint separates, then you pour it another jar and it’s clean again! I bought a gallon of this about a year ago, and I still have the half the bottle left. And I’ve been painting nearly every day too!

Lastly, you’ll want to get picture varnish. It preserves your painting, makes your colors more brilliant somehow (I don’t remember the science, it just does!), the colors become richer, the painting is shiner, and, no matter what your skill level, brings your up at to that classy-museum level brilliance. Don’t get attached to it though. If art restorers think your art is worth preserving decades down the line, they’ll probably remove it from your painting.

3. Learn Shadows

The best oil paintings, in my opinion, and human natures’ opinion, are those with an excellent use of contrast.

With the exception of Impressionism, but we’ll cover that here in a second.

This especially true today. On Instagram, the entirety of your art isn’t the first thing that get’s noticed. It’s the tiny thumbnail. So if the thumbnail doesn’t pop out, then not as many people are going to want to view it.

4. Have Some Understanding of Color Theory

The Impressionists, commonly mistaken for having been the first to really discover theory, used color to create beautiful paintings such as these.

This is especially important. If you don’t study a little color theory beforehand, you will probably find (if you haven’t already) that if you mix the wrong oil colors, they will look muddy, gray, and ugly. For now, you don’t want to do that. Maybe you’ll do it on purpose later on, but if you’re just starting out, please, for the love of God, go on YouTube, and watch a five minute video on color theory.

This goes beyond just learning the primary and secondary colors, I’m talking about hue, saturation, warm colors, cool colors, why some colors work together and some don’t.

In fact, this YouTube video actually helped my art exponentially. It’s 20 minutes long, and worth every minute (I actually need to watch it again):

5. Practice Every Day

The most important thing is to practice every day. Even just 20 minutes every day. 20 Minutes per day is 140 minutes a week which is 2 1/2 hours which means you can have a nice painting done in one week. A couple months later, you can have an entire portfolio to present to art galleries (or even your online gallery).


More Florence Things: Art Making and Gold Gilding

So… I’m finally having a bit of an “off” day. Tuesdays are insane for me, so today was pretty much just me catching up on laundry and vegging out. I was going to go out and do some painting, but I’ve finally accepted the fact that that’s just not happening.

I’m blogging instead.

So, here are some highlights for how this week has been:

Last weekend, I went to Villa Demidoff and saw the Collosso d’Appenino:


And started a painting of him…

And here’s the backside!


Dunno why it’s showing up as small, but here you go…

And then I went to the Duomo, and painted the side door you go into if you’re going to church:


It’s not done yet.

I also went to church at the Duomo. I apologize, I don’t have any pictures of the inside, but the experience there was amazing. I went to the 10:30 Gregorian chant mass. I waited outside for a while, there were some tour groups that congregated on the front and a few passerbys that said “The Duomo is closed on Sundays for some reason.” Since I had some time, I walked to the other side of the Duomo, and there I found a line of people going in for mass. The doors were guarded by some some nice gentlemen in dark suits turning anyone away who didn’t know the password.

When I went up to the doorway, a bearded man with a stern look blocked me. I gestered at my outfit, thinking it would be enough to let him know I wasn’t just trying to tour the place, but he still stood there just staring at me.

“Mass?” I said.

His stern look vanished then replaced with a warm, welcoming smile, then he stood to the side and let me through. I wonder how many people get confused by that. I can’t say I blame them though. As many centuries as the Duomo stood, I can hardly believe it’s still used for its original purpose (and no, it’s original purpose was not to tell future generations how great the Medicis were, although to be fair, it’s doing a good job of that too).

The mass was in Italian, so I could only understand bits and pieces of the homily and the readings. I’m kind of debating whether or not I should keep going to the Italian mass as it could help me with my Italian, but it would be nice to understand everything that was happening. I’m used to parts of the mass being in Latin, but I wonder if it would be beneficial if, at first, to listen to the homily (sermon) in English.

This was also my first time going to a mass at an Old World church that was built for the acoustics. Whenever there was any sound made, any singing, or reading, or anything like that, there was a sound way up high in the dome that sounded as though some unearthly creature with a deep, booming voice was humming. It was almost spooky. I really enjoyed that experience. The engineers who built the church to do that were amazing.

Classes are going really well too. Today, we learned about how the painters of the Byzantine/Renaissance era made their own gesso, which gave the canvases or boards a layer of what was almost like marble, so when you were painting, it was like painting on stone. We also learned about three different types of glues: Fish, the weakest, most commonly used for paper, rabbit skin glue, used for paintings and a lot of other things as well, and Bole (cattle hoof) glue, which was the strongest, but smelled awful! This was commonly used for furniture restoration, according to my teacher.

We also learned a little bit about gold gilding, and the teacher taught us how to make two different types of molds for when there’s a missing part on a gold gilded picture frame. When the molds were done, you would put in a paste made from Balsa wood to make the fills for the losses of the frames.

I don’t have pictures because since the frame we were using is still under copyright by the Italian government, I don’t want to take my chances. I’ll be posting again soon.

If you’d like to help support me, here’s my GoFundMe:

And, if you want cool stuff and want to help me out on a monthly basis, here’s my Patreon.




First few days in Italy

Hey all,

Sorry for not posting anything. My laptop was out of battery and I’ve been procrastinating getting an adapter. I’m currently in this limbo between too tired to be out and about, but I’m too wired to take a nap (which is a good thing. I took a nap yesterday evening which went on too long that caused me to miss the evening mass (church service), and completely screwed up my sleep schedule… again). So… I’m currently in my apartment just relaxing and reaching out to you all.

The Flight

My boyfriend drove me to the airport. I’m really happy he did, but, as you can guess, it was pretty emotional for both us. He’s been very supportive of me going on this trip, but it was still pretty sad. I do love living in the future though. He’s been in constant contact via phone, and he’s going to be visiting for Christmas. So, I’ll be seeing him in three months instead of eight.

I will say this though. Going from the Westcoast to the East to Europe was absolutely brutal! I did see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 though. That was a pretty fun movie.

I met up with the rest of my classmates in New York. Most of them were undergraduates, but the ones I hung out with during the flight were pretty cool. They were studying animation, and given what I could pick up from their personalities and conversations, they sounded like very hard workers too. Definitely not here just to goof off and vacation I can tell you that much.

The next step was making a stop in Germany to transfer flights. So, now I have a stamp in my passport from Germany. Yay! Our flights were delayed an hour, which kind of sucked, but oh well.

Then… we got to Florence… I waited for my luggage with a couple other classmates, the one I talked to the most, Liz, was an adorable sprightly graduate student with a pixie cut. Our luggage never showed up. So we had to file a claim and as far as I know, it still hasn’t shown up yet. Thankfully, I always pack for a flight with the assumption that this will happen, so I had a week’s worth of clothes in my carry-on.

Turns out Liz and I were going to be roommates! Yay!

The Apartment

It’s a very cute apartment. It’s also practically right next to the Duomo, so that’s nice.

Here’s my roommates in front of the Duomo our first night here

And here’s some pictures of the apartment:

And here’s some additional photos I took:

My Roommates

My roommates are awesome. There’s supposed to be five of us, but I know one had trouble with her visa and I’m unsure where the other one is. For now it’s just me, Liz, and Robyn. Robyn has traveled quite a bit and has lots of interesting stories. She also knows enough Italian to get around. Liz and I share a very similar philosophy when it comes to art, and this idea that there’s no reason art shouldn’t be happy and beautiful. On top of that, we’re all getting along great and we’re either clean people, or messy but trying hard to be clean, and we all like to cook!. They’re both vegetarians. Which means A) More meat for me and B) Meat is expensive anyway, so maybe it wouldn’t be in our best interest to buy it all the time.

Honestly, after all that getting mentally ready for the “horrible roommate” experience that I was kind of preparing myself for pre departure, I don’t think I could possibly ask for better roommates.

Art Museum Internship, Uncategorized

ArH PAM Internship Week 10: Postmodern Art and some final thoughts.

Well, gang, it looks like this will be my last blog post for the Portland Art Museum internship. I’m still going to be working there as a volunteer there until all the print materials are nice and wrapped up, but as for my schooling, this is it. It’s been a great run, and I thank each and everyone you who followed this blog. I do invite you to stick around as there will be many more projects I’ll be working on, and I will be going to Florence, Italy here in a half a year.

Now then. Here’s what I helped preserve today:

Upon some further research, this is Derriere le Miroir, which was a popular French art magazine that ran from 1940’s after World War II to the 1980’s. The featured artist here is none other than Alexander Calder, whom I remembered learning a bit about from Art History 206. He was actually a sculptor more so than a print maker, as this lithographs would suggest, and his sculptures were actually more along the lines of what we in the art world would call “Kinetic Art.” Having studied mechanical engineering, he incorporated what he learned into his sculptures which involved suspended sculptures and mobiles.

This work here is very reminiscent of Pop art which was big during this time period (it was published in the 1960’s).

Pop art and postmodern art never really resonated with me, but this does:

The original outside covering the book came in is falling apart at the seams. Samantha, the museum’s art conservator, wasn’t present at the time, but looking at this now, I wonder if I should have asked her to use the gum adhesive to better add to the structural integrity of the case. I’m not sure if the case itself is made from acid-free paper like what the coverings are made from, and I’m going to guess not. This could be an inherent vice that will later need to be taken care of at a later time, but for now, it’s safe in the vault.

Some final thoughts

Preventative conservation, which is what I have been doing this whole term, is just as important as “restoration” of an item. Without the knowledge or means to preserve a piece of art as it is, as the artist originally intended, then things might as well degrade or perhaps worse: be restored again and again until it’s no longer the original piece.

I’m proud to have been asked to be part of this. While I wish I could have worked with the gold or paintings conservator in addition, I believe the work I was doing at the museum was no less important.

Once again, I would like to thank those of you who have been following me this term, and I hope you stick around for more.


Art Museum Internship, Uncategorized

ArH Internship Weeks 8: OSU Prints and Sad Poetry

So, just a disclaimer, I did in fact GO to my internship my last week and had every intention of doing the blog post. I had a paper in History of Photography that I needed to do and work was exhausting, so I spent the free time I did have working on the Lent Project almost as a theraputic thing.

Welp. I’m gonna stop making excuses for myself in 3…2…1…


So, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, There were very few things these last few months that I wrapped up that I got super excited about. I liked just about everything, but only a couple of things made me look and immediately think “Wow.”

This week was one of those. 🙂

I wrapped up a Visual Design portfolio from Oregon State University made in 2002.

The print on the left is called Spring Fragment. I was dumb and forgot to jot down the title of the one on the right, but I liked it. If I just had one criticism about it would be the musician’s teeth. They look a little scary, but I like the shadows on her face and the way the guitar is made is really cool. Spring Fragment is really interesting because it’s very abstract-looking, but the way the shapes and shading are placed really drew my eye really well. Generally, I’m not a fan of art that’s not supposed to look like anything, but this artist pulled it off really well.

The next thing I wrapped is called Archeologies of Loss poetry by Srah Lantz and Prints by Sarah Horowitz.

I didn’t get a good look at the poems, but the prints looked really nice. The subjects were various Flora that looked like they should have had blossoms, but didn’t.


The link I provided gives a much better description of these poems than I could, but as a quick introduction, the cover page of the book noted that it was made in memory of someone named Eleanor Winter. The themes of the poems discuss loss, renewal, and rebuilding of Jewish identity after the Holocaust in Europe.



ArH Internship Week 7: The Red Bird

Sorry this took so long to upload, everyone. I just found out my YouTube channel was suspended (the reason they gave was “spam,” but, of course, no specifics) and I spent way too long trying to figure out how to get this fixed, but then I had to leave for work. Well, I’m back, and this time, it’s a video!

So, just a brief history lesson. This folio is called, The Red Bird (1955) by Christopher Logue and John Christie.

Inside, there are some screen prints (done by Christie) with a bizarre, contemporary art style. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a whole lot of information on John Christie especially, here are some links to some other screenprints he’s known for. Namely, Lemonade Music and Check-Out Music.


Art Museum Internship, The Van Gogh Project, Uncategorized

ArH Internship Week 6: No Internship Today. Van Gogh instead.

Well, my friendlies, I just realized it’s Friday and I have not posted anything related to my internship this week. That’s because I had no internship this week. My supervisor is in Beliz with her husband. That being said, I thought I would take this opportunity to write more about my independent research project. I posted an entry earlier this week, but, what the heck, I’ll do another one.

If you’ve been following all of my blog posts, and possibly my instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been posted something called “The Van Gogh Project.”

My aunt asked me to paint a reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace at Night” that she may hang it in her dining room.

Wanting to do a good job, I decided to study the artwork and Van Gogh much more extensively. I thought by getting to know the man better, I would be able to bring his painting to life in a way that would allow my aunt and anyone she invites over to get a feel for the real man.

I bought a poster of the piece because having a high quality poster shows the brushstrokes much better than any image in the internet can. I also didn’t want to paint in my own style as my style uses only the smallest amounts of paint at a time (paint’s expensive, I generally want to make it last as long as possible), and I have a tendency to blend, worse, over blend the paint on my canvas. Van Gogh and I are opposites in many ways.

He separates his colors, I blend mine. He uses a lot of paint, I use as little as I can. The Van Gogh project is every bit breaking my own habits as learning the techniques of one of my giants.

Turns out, I was right. In a letter to his sister, Van Gogh specifically explained his pride in being able to recreate the sky in the painting without using any black.

A couple days ago, I myself went a little mad.

I was attempting to study logic, and I was just not getting it. Finally, I marched downstairs and picked up the paintbrush. I started a little earlier than I wanted to, but I finally took paint to the canvas I purchased:


I put globs of paint on the canvas, like the impressionists did, and went to work. I just needed the right yellow to put on the stars.


I got Yellow Ochre for the stars (I can’t believe I didn’t have it already), I saw a lot of Indian Yellow in the painting, so I went ahead and got that too.

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s a video of me analyzing the poster I got as my reference:

I’m currently in the process of finishing a video doing some brushstroke experiments. Please follow me on YouTube or Vidme for updates.