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How to Oil Paint Flowers

By Edited Oct 10, 2015 1 1

If you would like to know how to oil paint flowers, I'll tell you. But I have to warn you, if you've never painted before, you might want to start with acrylics instead. You need a whole new set of art supplies when you're learning how to oil paint since they are not water soluble. Plus it takes a few days for a layer of color to fully dry before you can go in and add another on top, making the process lengthy. And they are difficult, bordering on impossible to clean up. But assuming I haven't scared you off, oils are very smooth so it's like painting with butter, making them nice to work with. And the finished product will look glossy and high quality. So if you've got the materials and time, and you'd like to learn this painting technique for flowers, read on.

Things you'll need:
•    Oil paints (I like to buy the primaries: yellow, red and blue, as well as black and white.  All other colors can be mixed from these five colors)
•    Nylon, hog's hair, or sable brushes
•    Palette for mixing colors
•    Palette knife for mixing colors
•    Paint thinner (available at home improvement or art supplies stores)
•    Linseed Oil from art supplies stores
•    Paper towels or rags
•    Clothes you don't care about staining
•    WELL VENTILATED ROOM (so you don't pass out or develop cancer when learning how to oil paint)
•    Gesso
•    Canvas

Apply Gesso to the canvas (see tips below). Once it's dry, the basic process for how to oil paint is to paint the background first. If you paint the flowers first, and then the background, the effect looks like a cartoon, because the background looks like it's pasted on top of the flowers. So start from the background.  Paint everything a little darker than you think the end result should look.  This is because you are painting the shadows of the background first.  Your subsequent layers will have the main color then the highlights, respectively.  Use the paint thinner you got from the art supplies stores to clean your brushes, and let this first coat of paint dry for a day or two at least.

How to Oil Paint Flowers
Paint the general shapes of the objects in the mid-ground next. This might be the table that the vase of flowers is on, or the shrubbery behind the blooms. Paint the darkest colors first (ie., shadows.) Use the palette knife you got from your art supplies to mix your paints, which should look very dark. You will be adding on layers to this to lighten it up, so start darker than you think it should be when first learning how to oil paint. Let this layer dry, again, for at least a day, depending on the humidity.

Paint the flowers in the foreground next. Again, start with the darkest shades, so you have basically just a silhouette of the flowers. To continue the process of how to oil paint sequentially, moving from objects in the back to objects in the front, start with the back lip of the vase, then the stems and leaves, then the front of the vase, and finally the blooms.  Allow this layer to dry.

Start adding in the middle shades for colors, again working from back (background) to front (foreground). Add just a little linseed oil from your art supplies to the paint colors you've mixed on your palette. This will create a slight shine to the paints, and it thins them so it appears to stand out from the heavy background. This simple way of adding dimension is part of the reason why many people want to learn how to oil paint instead of sticking with acrylics that aren't as luminous.

Add the highlights where the light hits your objects. When you're learning how to oil paint, think of it as the light sitting on top of your subjects. The effect of the layering of color you so patiently applied should be depth. For even more depth and light, add more linseed oil from your art supplies to your paints than you did in the previous step. And that's all you need to know to learn how to oil paint flowers!
 
 Tips & Warnings
•    Gesso is an acrylic primer available at art supplies stores. Use it to prepare your canvas by brushing on a thin, even layer, as though you were painting your canvas white.  If you are planning on a very dark finished piece, you can buy black Gesso instead of white.
•    When you're learning how to oil paint and just starting out, you can buy art supplies in craft stores or online.
•    Oil paint takes a day or two to dry out since there's no water in it to evaporate out. Be sure to give it the full drying time between layers to avoid muddying your colors.  Humidity in the air means more drying time between coats of paint.
•    Oil paints and paint thinners contain carcinogens. Be sure to use these materials in well ventilated areas to minimize your health risks as you learn how to oil paint.

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Comments

Jun 5, 2011 10:12am
southerngirl09
Very interesting article! I play with drawing, and I long to be able to paint landscapes.
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