Sitting down in front of a blank canvas can be a little intimidating. No matter how much we love art history, no matter how ‘creative’ we believe we are, sometimes the creative process itself can be a little bit nerve-wracking.
Sat with only a brush, an empty canvas, and your imagination, the opportunities, the possibilities, they are endless. And it is that infinity of possibility, obviously, that often sees people stall with their painting.
Oil painting is not easy. It is a hugely difficult challenge; it is exhausting, frustrating, infuriating. All creative acts are.
Given this, sometimes a helping hand is really appreciated. And with the world being how it is these days, there is always help around the corner – online, in books, and pretty much everywhere else besides.
So, don’t get bogged down in your creative block. These oil painting tutorials and resources – podcasts, videos, and books – will get you going in the right direction.
Check out our introduction to oil painting!
Podcasts about Oil Painting
Maybe it appears like a bit of a contradiction that a visual art such as oil painting might be discussed, analysed, and enjoyed through audio. However, there are a huge number of incredibly valuable podcasts out there that can help you make sense of your oil painting techniques, famous compositions, and the stuff of art materials themselves.
Of course, if you stop and think about it for a second, it is a given that the busy, multitudinous land of the podcast has wormed its way into the world of art.
And this, by no means, is a bad thing. Here are a couple of podcasts that really help you to understand what oil paintings are all about.
The Art Renewal Center’s Podcasts
Whilst not specifically about the art of oil painting, the Art Renewal Center’s considerable collection of podcasts is a great place to dive into all things art.
The Center’s site hosts interviews with artists and art historians, speeches from oil painters, discussions of what creativity – and the creative process – means and might look like, and inspiring ideas on what landscape painting or portrait painting, still life or plein air painting might be.
For thoroughly engaging and informative discussions of art, this is a great place to come.
Check out the Tate’s Podcasts
Everyone in the UK should know the Tate museums, full as they are with masterpieces – from the Old Masters to Van Gogh, Da Vinci to Van Eyck.
And whilst their podcast discussions are not limited to oil painting – rather ranging from tempera to sculpture and back again – they feature beautiful and compelling ideas to get you out of your creative rut.
From the nature of creativity and inspiration to the ways in which improvisation plays a role in our art, Tate’s podcasts cover an awful lot.
Check out our article on oil painting techniques!
Blogs on Oil Painting
Whilst the podcasts selected here give general information on the world of art, the internet is full of blogs on the practical side to oil painting.
These tend to be from the producers – or the suppliers – of the painting equipment themselves, from the oil paint itself to the brushes and palette.
For people who want to learn the essential tools and practices to move past painting for beginners, these are the places to come. Because they’ll teach you some painting tips that’ll move your art into something much more professional.
Gamblin Colour’s Painting Blog
Gamblin are an American producer of oil paints which, as you might expect, produce hundreds if not thousands of different pigments and hues.
However, their website is stuffed full of excellent information about the practical side to oil painting – from the maintenance, storage, and transport of paints to the key terms of artistic practice.
So, if you want to know about underpainting or color mixing, this is the place to come. If you want to know about using varnish in your art or the different painting mediums, this is your place too.
It’s a really wonderful place to learn.
Check Out Jackson Art Supplies’s Blog
Jackson’s Art Supplies – based in London – hosts a blog that does a similar thing too. But, ranging across oil painting to acrylic painting, across drawing and watercolour painting, its content is much more far-reaching – and not always relevant to your purposes as an oil painter.
However, alongside the practical elements of each individual art media, there are artist interviews and editorials that take and dissect larger themes. And these too are really inspiring.
Video Tutorials on Oil Painting
If there is something that speaks to the modern age of online inspiration more than anything else, it is the rise of the Youtuber and the instructional video.
These are all the rage, with a format common to pretty much all of them. With a camera pointed behind a painter’s back to the easel before them, you can learn to paint in real time with the painter themselves.
This is a wonderful way of doing art classes, with what feels like a one-to-one tutorial in which you will learn how to mix colours and the techniques for applying them onto your respective canvases.
Learn the basics of oil painting!
Lena Danya’s Oil Painting Channel
Now, you don’t need to like her compositions themselves to appreciate the talent of Lena Danya, an artist and Youtuber who gives time-lapse tutorials on oil painting.
Focusing, in her own work, on the female figure, she also gives handy video tutorials on the basics of oil painting – from varnishing and mixing colors to drawing and painting of canvas.
These are incredibly handy videos for the beginner oil painter.
Let Florent Farges Show You How to Paint
Florent Farges is another oil painter and youtuber who takes you through specific, technical areas in the process of oil painting.
Through his instructional videos, you’ll look at how to paint hands, how to get the right colour tones for flesh, the importance of linseed in oil painting – and whole lot more.
The Best Resource of All? The History of Art
Now, whilst all instructional videos and educational podcasts are great, there’s nothing so good for inspiration as the real thing.
That’s why we say that the best resource of all for oil painters is the history of art itself. There is nothing that is going to make you want to paint like seeing a Rembrandt or a Vermeer in its physical form. Or the tangible piles and manipulations of oil that you can see in the work of Vincent Van Gogh say.
From the real things in museums to the art books that analyse the techniques of these artists – and the artists’ writings themselves – there is nothing that is going to inspire you like the famous painters from history.
Go to an Art Gallery or Museum
In the UK, you couldn’t be luckier: all of the major museums in the country are free. That means that you can go and gawp at the paintings in the National Gallery or the Tate without spending a penny.
Linger there all day, or make your own studies of other artists’ work. The experience of the history of art can change the way that you think about painting yourself. That’s how all the great artists have done it.
Oil Painters Writing on Oil Painting
Yet, the paintings themselves only tell you so much about the creative process – and the mode of thinking – that went into the production of these pieces of art.
The resource that is much better for this sort of thing – for insights into the minds of artists themselves – are the books written by the artists themselves.
Take Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art, for example, which explores the significance of compositional form and colour. Or take John Ruskin’s, the Victorian art critic, book Lectures on Landscape.
Don’t Forget Your Own Resources
Yet, what needs to be stressed in all this is that there is a resource that isn’t in any sense physical, purchasable, or findable online.
That’s your own will to create.
Because, without this, watching videos on YouTube or reading art history books will be worthless. To really improve your painting, you have to sit down and paint, sketch, compose, and edit. That’s the long and short of it. And, in many ways, everything else can be a bit of a distraction.
So, if you want to be a painter, get off the internet. Instead, go and pick up your paint brush and create something beautiful.