Top 10 Ways to Learn How to Oil Paint Like a Pro

Oil painting can be a difficult skill to master. There is a very good chance you will need a little help. I hope this article will help you in your quest oil paint like a pro. 

Learn How to Draw

Learning to draw can greatly increase your oil painting skills. As a matter of fact, years ago art students were not allowed to paint unless they first learned the fundamentals of drawing. Drawing can get you more acquainted with value, line, and form without the distraction of color. Look for a good book on drawing fundamentals and begin there. 

Learn about Color

A beginner can quickly become confused about color. An oil painter needs to have a good understanding of color theory. Themes like hue, intensity, and color temperature are very important to the art of oil. After you have a good understanding of color theory, you should learn how to mix different colors. There is a lot more to color than meets the eye. For example, you can not just mix any shade of blue with any shade of yellow and get the perfect green. There are some yellow and blues that behave differently than others, so be sure to learn about the properties of colors.   


A major hurdle for the beginner artist is the subject of perspective. If something doesn’t look right about a painting, it is often because the perspective is off. Learning more about perspective can show you how to properly translate a 3-dimensional world onto a 2-dimensional canvas. Perspective is an important ingredient toward creating realistic oil paintings. The exception to this is if you are creating an abstract work of art and your intentions are to change the perspective.


paint brushes

Materials to an oil painter is like a piano is to a pianist. A pianist cannot play without their instrument nor can he play without understanding how his instrument works. The instruments of a painter are their materials. They allow you the ability to express yourself, so learning more about them is necessary. Learn about the different types of brushes and their purposes. Know all of your paints. You will learn that not all colors behave the same. Understand your supporting colors and the difference between them. 


There are a large variety of panting techniques out there to learn about. These techniques include wet on wet, glazing, alla prima, knife painting, etc. Knowing how to use various techniques will help you to create your own unique style as well as helping you create more interesting paintings.

Begin with a Concept

It is important to have a concept in mind before you begin painting. To begin painting without a clear vision of what you want to accomplish is not a good idea. Methods for solving problems in a painting are called concepts. What would you like your painting to be about? There is no room for diversion when you have a blueprint in mind before you start painting. You must go with your original plan.

Become a Master of Your Brush

Your effectiveness as a painter is limited if you do not have good brush control. Be sure you have the best possible brushes you can buy. One of the biggest mistakes you could make as a painter is not reloading your brush enough. Be sure you always have enough paint on your brush because you will always need a layer of paint between the canvas and your brush. Do not attempt to scrub the paint into the canvas. Paint your strokes and leave them alone. Try not to overwork your brushstrokes.   

Fat over Lean

Follow this rule to decrease your chances of your paint cracking. Each layer of your oil painting should have more oil than the one below it. 

Organized Palette


An important part of good painting is having a clean, organized palette. Every time you paint you should get into a good habit of laying out your colors the same way. When you organize your colors along the edges of your palette, be sure to leave a lot of room in the center of the palette for mixing. Don’t hesitate squeezing out a good amount of paint, especially your whites. You can be more productive if you aren’t constantly stopping to squeeze out more paint. Be sure to include all of the colors you believe you will need to complete that session of painting. It’s also a good idea to make a habit of wiping your palette clean during the painting process. Have some alcohol handy so you can keep the mixing area of your palette clean.  


Don’t get discouraged if you ever feel uninspired. Take a walk outside, breathe in some fresh air, admire all the beauty that God created. Playing music while painting also helps. Music can really help inspire you to paint. You can visit a local gallery or museum. By viewing other people’s works of art, you can get  your creative juices going!

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