Kit for oil painting

Kit is intensely personal and all painters end up preferring some things over others. This will give you a guide, if you’re not sure just stick to what’s here, add to it if you feel like it.

  1. Something to paint on – canvas, canvas boards or gessoed panels. You may wish to put a wash of raw umber down in advance. Have a variety of sizes and make sure you get some that are bigger than you think you’ll need.
  2. An easel. If you are painting in your own space you may want a sketching easel which folds up, we tend to use radial easels in the studio, a bit more bulky but they do fold. H-frame easels are nice and stable although large. A desktop easel is useful for some projects. You may also find a drawing board helps, it’s easier to use with an easel or to balance on your knee. Bigger than your paper of course.
  3. Paints – if you can bear it get artist quality, you won’t regret it. A standard modern palette would be: Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian or Pthalocyanin Blue (green shade), Cadmium red, Alizarin Crimson (or Quinacridone Rose), Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Yellow Pale. Earth colours are also invaluable, a dark earth such as Raw Umber, Paynes Grey or Ivory Black and most artists have Yellow Ochre in their box too. Buy what appeals to you but with the preceding colours you’re covered.
  4. Brushes – half a dozen bristle brushes in different sizes will do. A small sable or synthetic is handy for drawing out or adding accents.
  5. A palette. You need something to mix your paints on. If you buy a new wooden one do season it with some linseed oil first, they can be annoyingly absorbent when new.
  6. Solvents: white spirit, turps or Zestit will be needed for cleaning brushes and to thin paint. You’ll need a jam jar, brush washer or similar to put them in too.
  7. Linseed oil – not everyone bothers with this but it’s good to have on hand.
  8. Rags or Kitchen towels – to wipe your brushes and clean up.
  9. A palette knife, essential for cleaning your palette
  10. Drawing equipment: Masking tape, pocket sketchbook, soft pencils (2b at least) or charcoal, rubber, ruler or straight edge, viewfinder.
  11. A pocket mirror is used by some to check proportion and composition.

If you are on a tutored course your tutor will advise you on specific kit for the course beforehand.