- Lesson details
In this lesson series instructor Sheldon Borenstein shows you how to work with a variety of drawing and painting media. You will learn how the general principles of art apply equally to all media and specifically how to work with each individual medium while employing the appropriate techniques. In this video lesson Sheldon will teach you how to work with oil paints.
- Glass Palette
- Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colors
- Winsor & Newton Artisan Painting Medium
- Winsor & Newton University Brushes
- Canvas Panel
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of drawing and painting media. You will learn how the general principles of art apply equally
to all media and specifically how to work with each individual medium
while employing the appropriate techniques.
In this video lesson, Sheldon will teach you how to work with oil paints.
got to remember—I want you guys to think of the fundamentals as like a Christmas tree.
Okay, so the Christmas tree is your drawing, your perspective, your composition, your values,
all of that. Your shape, your structure; that’s the Christmas tree. What we hang on top of
that is your technique. And that’s just fun. So you might be wondering what I have
to do with this pen. It’s just something to hold on to. Today we’re talking about
oil painting. Now, as we’ve discussed with the other techniques, the paint or the actual
pigment is the same. So if I have a really high grade of acrylic paint, really high grade
of oil paint and it’s a burnt sienna, the sienna is the same. It’s the binder that
keeps it together. In this case the binder is linseed oil. Oil paint goes back years
and years. I mean it’s just an incredible popular medium. It’s a fun medium, but it’s
a medium that takes a while to dry.
Now, let’s talk about oil paint. We’re dealing with a paint—if we’re going to
go with watercolor it pretty much dries the same. If we’re going to go with acrylic
it pretty much dries the same. Acrylic dries very quickly. Watercolor, depending on the
humidity, dries quickly. When we’re talking about oil it takes its time. You talk to oil
and go how are you doing? Doing it my way, taking my time. The different colors are going
to dry at different rates. If you’re dealing with white, the white is going to take a very
long time to dry. On the other hand, on the other side, if you’re dealing with your
dirt colors that I call it, your browns, they’ll dry a lot faster because they’re dirt. They
come from dirt. The other ones I call the chemical colors. This is what I call, what
I call is the chemical colors, and those will be somewhere in the middle because they have
dirt but they also have chemicals. Your CADs will take a little bit longer to dry.
Everybody will have their opinion on this because everybody does oil.
Now probably right now I can hear you guys asking the question—hold on. Yeah, you’re
right. How do you speed it up? I’m going to show you. Clear your mind, listen up. There’s
a thing called Japan Drier. I don’t know where it got its name from, but it’s called
Japan Drier. I just had a painting that I had to finish and get into a show for a woman
to buy. She didn’t want it to be auctioned. She wanted to own it right from the start.
So she bid the highest, bought it, done. I had to get that in her home at a certain point.
So I added Japan Drier to my paint, and it dried it out and it’s beautiful. The linseed
oils will break down your paint. Be careful breaking your oils down with turpentine because
it will also break down the binder, and it can actually make the pain a little less stable.
Working with your linseed oils it keeps the paint very stable. What does it do? It just
makes it looser, like adding water to watercolor or water to acrylic.
Let’s see some other stuff that’s really pretty cool. So your linseed oils are real
important. Be careful you guys cause I work in arson, when you put your linseed oil on
the rags, and you put your rags in your trash can. That’s self-combusted. That means it’s
going to say I’m so hot that I’m going to start my own fire. You might find that
your studio becomes hotter than you wanted it to be when you get a fire in your studio
because your linseed oils combust by themselves. So you want to make sure you have them in
a metal trashcan with a metal lid, real solid, so you don’t become one of my clients in
the world of arson investigation. If you’re in there and you burn up and you die, now
we can be homicide. That’d be kind of cool. Get two for the price of one, a homicide and
arson. But, let’s leave that aside and make sure we understand that
our linseeds and our oils are dangerous.
Okay, so that will break down our paint, but it doesn’t break down the binder. It just
makes it smooth. Now, watercolor is transparent. Acrylic and pastels, opaque. Oil is in the
middle. Oil paint can be put down very thin. I’ve got painting I’ve done where you
put your hand over it and you barely feel anything. Other paintings you like to like
frost a cake and have a great time and just put it on nice and thick. It’ll take about
20 years to dry. Then you have the other ones which are, you know, you paint down the center.
Some people like to paint with palette knives. That’s a lot of fun. I typically don’t
use those. So you have that. So that’s your painting. Other than that it’s all the same.
So we’re going to do a demo, just oil right down the center.
Varnishes, that’s the important thing. Typically you varnish a year after the painting is dry.
It takes a long time for the paint to dry. I don’t usually get, you know, once a painting
leaves your studio I don’t want it back. You buy it. It’s yours. Keep it. I want
to move on to something new. I usually don’t have it come back. But a lot of times an artist
will have them bring the painting back after a year and varnish it.
What you paint on with oil, if you look at the paintings from the Renaissance that are
all cracked, those are on canvases. The canvas ebbs and flows, and that cracks that paint.
The paintings that were done on board, those don’t crack. It’s really kind of funny.
I like to paint on a masonite that’s been gesso’d. Gesso is a white, acrylic pasty,
I think you paint it on your canvas. It allows a good surface for your paint so it doesn’t
soak in. I like to put it on a board and paint right on the board. The problem is that it
doesn’t command the same money because people want to have the canvas. So that’s fine.
When they wake up in the morning and it’s 500 years from now, and they go downstairs
they’re going to have a cracked painting. Don’t say I didn’t tell you. But if you
do it on the board and you come down 600 years from now, you’re going to say thank you,
Sheldon, because my paint is still as good as the day it was. You can email me. I’ll
be at www.im_not_here_anymore.com. So you’ve got that.
I think that’s pretty much it for the oils. They’re bitchin’. They’re badass. People
love them. And we’ll demo them. Alright, you ready? Let’s go.
Now, as we say, we’re just trying to teach you the techniques right now. We’re not
trying to do some masterful fine art painting. We’ll do that later where we’ll really
spend the hours on one painting. We want to get this down. Basically what I have, and
maybe we’ll take a photo of it and show it to you. It’s just a little paint box.
I have this Winsor & Newton really gorgeous, really beautiful paint box. It was for watercolor.
What I did is I went to a store—this is, if you look underneath here what you don’t
see. You see white paper and glass. This is where the paint tubes were. I went to the
store on the quest to have glass cut to put inside. I looked up and guess who was standing
there, one of my students. Wow, that’s a great feeling when you’re a teacher because
they do what you need. And we cut the glass and we put it in, and this is my little portable
paint kit. So it’s really fun and I love it, and I can do my oil paintings.
This paint that we’re using is the Artisan paint and it’s water mixable, which is really,
really cool. You get rid of the turpentine. For the linseed oils we just use this water
mixable oil painting medium, and it’s made by Winsor & Newton. So Winsor & Newton supplies
the whole thing, Winsor & Newton Artisan. It feels like oil paint. It’s great.
So start out, same thing, flat wash. Not hard.
Treat it like the acrylic. Just know that unlike the acrylic the oil is semi-transparent,
so you can see the canvas starting to show through.
There you go. There’s your flat wash. Now, the gradated wash, one of the things
I do is, you know, I’m an animator so I’m always thinking animation. So this is my light.
I’ve got that right here. The brush is just the Winsor & Newton University. Whatever brushes
you want. I don’t get too picky with the oil. There you go. There’s my midtone. There’s
my dark. Clean your brush. Look at how fun. It cleans with water so life is good.
So let's just go ahead and put a dark on the top. Take this dark, just smear it in with the midtone.
Now, as you're painting, if you’re doing a portrait, these are all of your variations.
So if you mix up and mix down, see that? You get these really nice gradations. You just
pick up the one you want and put it down. Just pick it up and put it down.
Then pick it up and put it down. There are your gradations. It’s that easy.
If you’re doing Photoshop, same thing. You just grab it, pick it, put it down at 40% opacity, and you’ve got these
really nice gradated shapes. It’s not hard. I paint value. When I first learned oil paint
the teachers would not let me work with color. I had to work with value for over a year.
Good old fashioned classic training, and I thank them every day for it. You never know
when your work is going to be reproduced in black and white, and you’ve got to make
sure it works. Just pick up the tones and lay them down. This is dirty brush painting.
I don’t clean the brushing during so I’ve got those nice gradated tones. The thing about
oil paint, though, is that it’s kind of like frosting a cake. It’s pretty thick.
You can thin it down if you want. Just have fun.
Now, see how I’m doing the brush strokes all in the same direction? Mix it up a little bit.
I forgot to tell you. Break up your brush strokes.
It will help the light fall on your painting better. It makes it less monotonous.
Alright, so that’s my gradated tone. For the box shape, which is the same thing as
you’re working with the oil or the acrylic.
Here’s my light side. Thinking shape the
whole time. This is going to be dark. Put a light there. Put a light there. Reflected
light, let’s go shadow on this side. Whatever.
Then we have halftone over here.
Add some white and nice, neutral halftone on this side.
Okay, this is light so we’re going to go dark into the background.
Use a little linseed oil. Grab whatever dark you
can. I want it to be very neutral, very dark. I’m just mixing a whole bunch of it in there.
When you’re thinking color, really, I mean, you know, I’ll show you guys color too.
But right now you just want to think about color as value and temperature.
Alright, so that pulls that out. I can take this tone and use it for my cast shadow. I’m going
to give you guys a lesson on perspective. It will be very much right to the point.
It'll be workable perspective, something that you can use every day on the job.
What you’ll find in there is I’ll show you how to find the shadow.
Since I have this dark here I’m going to throw a dark up here.
What that will do is it’ll give me some reflected light.
So it’s always do you raise the bridge or lower the river? It’s really kind of the
old saying. Who made it up? I don’t know. Okay, so we’ve got that.
Then since this is light we’ll go darker. I’m going to go light on the bottom.
Throw a little reflected light in there.
Here’s where it’s fun you can really grab the white and just glob
it, you know, because it’s oil. Just glob it in there. Alright, so we’ve got that.
Over here is our sphere. Core. Reflected light.
We’re going to go hot on my core right there.
This is very much more painterly than this one.
Just think opposites and lose and edge. Then if I have cool over here I’ll put warm over
here. Then I have this warm light over here so we can go cool. Just think opposites, that’s all.
Then I’m going to throw in a shadow. One of things I love about oil is just having fun.
It’s a pretty forgiving medium, I think. You can scrape it off. You can wash it off.
Watercolor, of course, is the least forgiving unless you’re going in there and working it.
The thing about oil is you can just blend it like crazy, really have some fun.
Alright, so we’ve got that. That’s really read up there and it’s pulling
attention away. We’ll cool it back.
It’s all about edges.
Throw a highlight. There’s your sphere. Cylinder, same thing.
Cast shadow on the ground. See it’s getting dry, so
you just add a little bit of linseed oil, and it wets it up. It’s a technical term
used by artists; wet it up. I don’t want to tell you where it came from, and I’m
not going there. You can write Joshua. He’ll explain it to you.
Okay, here we go. We’ll go here.
Now some oil painters, they do what they call mixing on the palette. They’ll
actually put the paint on the palette and then mix into it. It’s fun and a little
dangerous. You’ve got to be careful because sometimes you can really get caught.
But it’s fun. You can try it.
Remember we’re just doing these little studies. We’re not trying to do masterpieces. Get
out of this thing about doing masterpieces. That’s meant, when you’re supposed to
do a masterpiece. Make sure you give yourself the time to just sit and study.
Alright, so that’s your cylinder.
Okay, so that’s your shapes. Real simple. This one got a little bit messy.
Cylinder is just a series of bands.
Alright, the tree. A couple different ways you can approach this: You can take your key
color and just wash it in, or you can go opaque. We’re going to throw in a wash.
Then you paint into the wash, and it will key the painting
just like the acrylic. You’re going to find it’s really all the same.
This will be scrubbing.
In the olden days we used turpentine, get it all over the rag and just scrub it all over the painting.
Okay, so that’s your lay-in.
I’m going to put a cloud in the background. I want to do that.
So now we start getting more careful.
Let’s see, that’s underneath the cloud
going through the tree over here.
I’m going to show a little bit of light, the sky showing through. That’ll be here.
That’s going to go this way. Here’s the light of our clouds.
Clouds are uneven.
Pull it around. Same thing here.
We’re not using magic brush techniques or anything like that.
Just looking for the shapes, softening the edges.
People wondering what happened to the silly teacher—that’s an act. That doesn’t
mean we don’t have fun. But when I paint and I’m at home I’m not singing myself songs.
I put on my headphones and get lost into my work, into what I do.
As artists we are in our own heads.
But don’t worry, I’ll bring it back.
I was looking at some of the messages that people wrote on the New Masters on my little
video part. Someone said keep telling us how to be artists, successful artists. I thought
maybe that is something we can talk a little bit about while we paint.
I think the biggest advice I can give you is cut the crap and get out of your ego.
You’re an artist, okay. Just do as you’re told.
I know that people like to cater to the artist and they
like that artist temperament, but just do your job. Occasionally, you can get all temperamental.
I like painting down, and I don’t like painting on easels. So I got temperamental and I got
what I wanted. You don’t have to, you know, these people get, just think of yourself as
doing a job. Where do you fit in the pipeline? A job needs to be done.
Maybe there is a new medical device that needs to be illustrated.
Maybe there is a character that needs to be designed for a movie.
Maybe there is a portrait that needs to be done for something, you know,
for some person. You do your job. Don’t get too caught up in your own ego.
Most artists never feel like they’re good enough. If you don’t feel like you’re good enough
then that’s perfect. That means you’re a real artist. What I like to do is kind of
sell myself as if I was a product. And you have to know what your product is so if somebody
says what do you do? Okay, here’s the top just like we did over here. If somebody says
what do you do you have to be able to tell them. Say I’m an animator specializing in
feature animation, usually heroes or villains, duh dah, dah. It has to just fall right off
your tongue. You can’t say what do you want? I want an artist who knows what they do.
So that’s really important. Then I think it’s really important to know why you’re working.
You know, for me it’s for my wife and my kids. So nothing is more important than them.
So that’s worth putting it out there. I’m going a little warm on the edge here. I think
I’m going to go warm on the reflected light because I have this cool light here.
You have to know why you’re doing it. Have a reason. Have a significant other in your
life that you’re working hard for. So you say, well, I’m not good enough for this.
Yeah, but they are. You have to work hard for them. Other than that, just study a lot.
Don’t leave the fundamentals. Stay with those fundamentals. Study all the time.
Just know that if you’re feeling like you’re not good enough then you’re about right.
Okay, light is coming this way. Put the cool here.
Now, when you’re putting these brush
strokes down you want the brush strokes to have a certain amount of feel.
They have to design.
My painting teacher used to always say that, you know, painting is like a mosaic.
You know, have fun with the brush strokes. Put them actually down as brush strokes.
Make them fit.
Okay, so we’ve got that. We can move our way up. I wouldn’t put a flat local tone down and
paint into it because your paints really are not as opaque as you think they are. So let’s
say our light is coming this way so let’s put our warm down. Usually you paint with
shadow first, but I’m going to put in my warm side first.
Make sure that the brush strokes are guiding your eye.
It’s pretty transparent. I’m putting a brush stroke
of burnt sienna over the yellow-ochre and it’s not covering it completely.
You need to know that oil paint is somewhat transparent.
The light is coming through here and hitting
this area, this area. I have my cool area here. There we go.
These are intro classes.
These are designed for you to see the difference between.
asking for intro classes that will show you guys what each technique does without intimidating
you to not want to try the technique further. So that’s what we’re doing.
This is oil and it’s fun.
Now we’re going to put in the tree. We have to stay in the same family so we have to be
careful that we don’t get away from the family. This will be the light part. We don’t
have this anywhere else so we’ll throw in some. Make sure the entire painting is having
a conversation with itself.
Here’s the dark part, uneven.
We’re thinking about this part as a box shape.
Finding a lot of students—remember, I have a couple hundred students a week. One of the
things I’m finding the most is that they’re trying to go through the fundamentals.
I think Glen talks about this in this video, they’re trying to move through their fundamentals
to get to something else, not really understanding that the fundamentals IS the something else.
I mean for people like me, the old-timers, I guess I’m old now at 53. I don’t feel
old. But you kind of laugh and you go what are you talking about? I want to get to concept.
I want to do concept art. Would you finish teaching me what you’re teaching me so I
can get on and do the real stuff? Wow, this is the real stuff. Without this how are you
going to do concept art? You can’t draw or you can’t paint.
They look at you and they go yeah right.
I am lucky this semester though because I have four incredible classes, but I’m holding
my breath. I’ve got four classes. I’m teaching in two universities, and the kids
are hungry. Probably the most questions I’ve had. You know, I’m trying to say let’s
get to the model. They’re like no, no, no, more questions. We have more questions. For
a teacher that’s wonderful especially when you have so much you want to teach them. And
the questions are great. I mean they’re really solid so I’m happy. I’ve had classes
where they just look at you like why are you doing this?
Let me get to what I really want to do. Get through you.
So we’re hitting on the light side. The light is coming down.
Pretend your brush is the light bulb. You see it’s not opaque. The oil shows through.
The same thing in acrylic. You would cover it right up. Pretty cool, huh? I’ve got
yellow down here so I’m going to put some yellow in the tree. Keep the painting together.
I call it a conversation. Hey yellow, how you doing? I’m good. You good? I’m good.
Keep it talking. Keep it together.
This is the frosting of the cake part. We can gob it on.
Can’t do this with acrylic as well. Definitely not watercolor. Pastel you can.
You’ve got some really soft pastels out there. You can really have some fun.
I would call this professionally an oil sketch,
by no means a finished painting.
I like to consider the white kind of a sweetener and just put it down.
Again, these are just little oil sketches.
Okay, so if you’re the greatest oil painter in the world out there, and you’re
saying this is not detailed enough, you’re right. But we just want to get you started.
You can have a lot of oil painting classes. This is the one that gets you started.
It’s very simple. Same process as all the other paint. The only thing that changes is
the medium. Medium means technique. Technique is anything you can predict the results of.
This will take about a year to dry. We’ll have some fun. Just a simple little sketch.
They’re fun to do, though. Ooh, what about red? I don’t know. Let’s put some right there.
Okay, that’s done.