I use to paint in oils all the time. Then I stopped. I remember falling in love with watercolors and pastels and kind of just forgetting all about oils. suddenly, I had this urge to paint will oils again and I said, “Why did I give it up so fast?”
Well, it quickly came back to me…oils are a pain in the #@&###! God bless the artist who paints in oils and has a lot of patients. That is not me! Don’t get me wrong, oil paintings are beautiful and luminous, but definitely a pain for three reasons: they are a mess, they never dry, and colors quickly blend to make mud.
So this may be the one and only oil you see on this site step-by-step…
Here is my reference photo. It was taken the first week of December. This is Farm Pond at the Little Red Schoolhouse, Willow Springs, IL. It is named Farm Pond because there use to be a little farm/garden right by this before construction took place. I do not know where the new farm/garden will be if at all.
Step 1: I am using Rembrandt oils, turpentine, and artist oil medium. I am painting on a 20×16 canvas that has been double primed. First, make a rough sketch with a piece of vine charcoal.
Step 2: Create a value painting by using one color (burnt sienna) and turpentine. For the lightest color like the sky use a little pigment and a lot of turpentine. For the darkest part, use lots of pigment and a smaller amount of turpentine. A value sketch is a good road map. It helps you to have good contrast in your painting.
Step 3: When painting in oils you lay your darkest colors down and then highlight on top. In this step I blocked in the dark tones. The sky is a mixture of manganese blue, titanium white, and a touch of brown. The trail is a purple mixture of white, blue, and red. The rocks are not white but gray, blue, and purple. It is hard to take a photo of a wet oil painting because the light catches the shine and it looks a little strange.
Step 4: Paint individual trees with a darker brown and indigo blue mixture in the background. The smaller the branches, the smaller the brush you use. For fine twigs I used a rigger brush. When painting fine lines or highlights, you need to thin your oil paint with artist medium or any oil medium you prefer like linseed oil or liquin. Don’t forget the reflection in the pond, painting the trees down and with a soft clean brush sweep it side to side over the reflection to make it look like water. A blue cast is good for shadow color under the benches and big willow tree. If you don’t paint a shadow, they will look like they are floating in air.
Step 5 Final: The willow tree is still holding on to a few of its leaves. It is the most gorgeous green/gold/yellow color. Very welcoming against a drab winter sky. The problem with oils is that the colors take so long to dry, if you paint wet on wet, you need to lay down your color, wipe off your brush, lay down your color, wipe off your brush, again and again. This is how I painted the willow leaves. If you do not constantly wipe off your brush, you will get dirty leaves not bright yellow leaves. Don’t forget the leaves floating on top of the water.
I hope you liked this one and only oil painting step by step demonstration.