You’re probably reading this post because you’ve decided you want to learn to paint with oil paints, but aren’t sure where to start. Sure, you’ve browsed the supplies at the local art store, but there are so many brushes, brands of paint, and canvases, it boggles the mind.
Maybe you’ve looked at some YouTube videos, but they only confuse things further. Those artists inspire you, but they also intimidate you. Oil painting looks so complicated. . . how can you ever learn it all?
And where do you begin?
I first started oil painting decades ago. Before YouTube, before online art stores. Before the internet even. Getting started was easy, because you didn’t know what you were doing anyway—you just bought a set of paints and a pad of canvas paper, and started painting!
Things have changed. There are now tons of tutorials on oil painting. Even among tutorials for beginners, there are countless choices. (You might even say there are too many choices.)
And that’s why I’ve been looking at videos for the past week: to find the best videos for new oil painters to learn from. I’ve selected seven that focus on supplies and tools, and four artists who offer real-time and/or step-by-step tutorials. And I’ve linked to dozens of videos you can watch right now.
So if you’re ready to learn to paint with oil, let’s get started!
I’m going to begin with the most basic thing you need to know about: oil painting supplies and tools. After all, you don’t have to watch very many oil painting videos to realize there are literally thousands of products you can use. But what do you really need to get started?
Simple Art Tips’ video, Oil Painting Basics is a great way to get started. This six-minute video tells you the differences between oils, acrylics, watercolor and gouache, the different “grades” of paint, how to clean brushes and more. This is not a tutorial, but rather a tips video covering a variety of topics certain to be helpful for the beginner. And it’s quick too!
Oil Painting for Beginners Supplies – What You Need to Buy is a great video for beginning oil painters who are starting from absolute scratch. Jason talks about the basic supplies (paints and basic colors, mediums, etc) brushes, canvases, and other supplies. He even talks briefly about transferring drawings to canvas.
If you have no idea what to buy, spend 20 minutes to watch Jason’s video, then go shopping. You won’t be sorry!
Lisa talks about the supplies she uses, the method she used for the demonstration and why she likes that method, and other helpful tips. The video includes a demonstration of Lisa painting an apple. Lisa’s video also includes links to other videos which explain how to clean your brushes, or how to use a liner brush to paint details.
An excellent video to begin with is Oil Painting Basics Tutorial for Beginners | Realistic Apple. Lena shares information on everything from the types of paint and colors to get, the surface, mediums, and other tips and tools. This video is only 49 minutes long, and is a combination of real-time and time-lapse. She describes in detail what she does at each step and why.
Her other videos include oil painting basics (including how oil paints are made) information on brushes, tools, and techniques like layering and blending, using solvents and mediums, and cleaning brushes and recycling used solvents. Check Lena’s playlist and look for the Oil Painting Basics list.
Just want to see what can be done with oil paints? Lena’s time lapse videos are sure to inspire.
Oil painting tutorial videos
As you probably noticed, some of the previously listed videos included a tutorial as well as information about supplies. Each of the following videos are dedicated tutorials instead. If they talk about supplies, it’s only to list the specific supplies they used for each project.
The tutorials cover mostly landscapes and still life subjects, but some of the artists also paint other subjects. When you find an artist whose methods you’d like to learn, make sure to take a look at their other videos as well:
The Bob Ross channel offers a wealth of tutorials on a variety of subjects, all featuring Bob Ross’ easy-going, easy-to-understand instruction. I recommend starting with the playlists on his channel.
The playlists are arranged by seasons (over 30) each with 13 videos. If you’re brand spanking new to oil painting, I can’t think of a better place to begin with some easy oil painting instructions. Of course you can also purchase Bob Ross supplies in sets and individually, so you can get started very quickly too.
I started oil painting in the days before Bob Ross when Bill Alexander was the artist teaching oil painting techniques on PBS, so I’m especially delighted to share a link to Bill Alexander’s YouTube channel too. There are fewer videos available than from Bob Ross, but they cover a variety of landscape subjects.
How to Paint Clouds with Oil Paint Tutorial is designed as a painting exercise, which makes it great for practice. This short video (15 minutes) is a time-lapse demonstration, but the artist describes what she’s doing as you watch. The video includes a section on mixing color, applying the paint to canvas, and blending.
Short, sweet, and simple as it is, it includes very important tips for creating the illusion of space, even with small, simple compositions.
Landscapes, Still Lifes
Finally, here’s a full-length real-time video showing you how to paint an Alpine mountain scene in oils. I know it sounds complicated, but artist Mariah Dutton shows you how she sets up her composition. It’s the next best thing to being in her studio or one of her classes.
This method includes an acrylic underpainting, and each video is nearly an hour long. But you will be able to paint along with Mariah on any one of the many subjects she paints.
In the end, if you want to start learning to paint with oil, any of the videos above will provide a good introduction and get you started on the right foot. So check them out and see if one of them speaks to you! Best of all, almost every single artists listed above offers more advanced videos as well. So if you find one you like, you can improve your skills—and your paintings—just by watching their next video.