Better Paintings – 20 Great Oil Painting Tips

Having recently attended the Oil Painters of America 20th Annual Exhibition, I came away with some great oil painting tips I would like to share with you. Some you may already be aware of, and some might be new to you. But if there is just one good tip here that you can use, it’s worth reading on…

20 Great Oil Painting Tips

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never attended any of the Oil Painters of America functions, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping to get some good oil painting tips, as well as some marketing ideas. I got all that and more. The complete schedule lasted almost a full week, but I was only able to attend on the weekend, so I signed up for five seminars, and took in the show at Devin Galleries in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Several seminars were offered, from demonstrations to marketing, some were free, and some were not.

I came away with a lot information, so much so, that I am going to write three posts on the seminars I attended. This first post will deal with oil painting tips, the second and third(soon to follow) will deal with art marketing.

Oil Painting Tips

The first seminar I attended was by artist Ned Mueller. I had never heard of Ned before, but he went to Art Center and loves to travel, so I signed up for his talk.

oil painting tips

“Guatemala Flower Market” Ned Mueller, Oil on Linen, 12″ x 16″

  Here are some great oil painting tips from Ned Mueller:

  1. “Plein air painting is the best thing you can do to improve your paintings.” He went on to say that  if you can get the big shapes in, get the colors right and the shapes right, you’ll get a likeness.

  2. “All good drawing is good judgement.  If you make good judgement decisions, and do enough of it, you will get really, really good.”

  3. “Loosen up. Hold the pencil or brush way out in front of you and use your shoulder.”

  4. “A good painting is an interesting arrangement of shapes and colors. Most paintings are doomed from the start because the artist hasn’t figured out what to say and how to say it.”

  5. “Once you start seeing the world more abstract, you start seeing like an artist. There can be a good painting in a pile of rags.”

  6. “There are three stages of being an artist: 1. You start by painting what you know. 2. Then you paint what you see. 3. When you paint what you feel, you start improving.”

  Those are great oil painting tips, and Ned Mueller seems to be a pretty popular guy. There were people around him everywhere he went. Another thing he said was that he is in his 70’s and he still goes to life drawing, and does a lot of gesture drawings. If you would like more information on Ned Mueller’s work and/or workshops, it’s just a click away

More Oil Painting tips

In addition to Ned Mueller, I also signed up for a painting demonstration by Neil Patterson. The only thing I knew about Neil Patterson was that he is the current president of the Oil Painters of America. This guy is a pretty cool cat. First of all, it’s the appearance: Long, graying beard, dressed in black with a black brimmed hat. Second, it’s his voice. come to find out, he lives up by Calgary, Alberta, and he has a bit of an accent to go with a soothing voice and a ton of knowledge. I could listen to him all day.

oil painting tips

“Sunnyside” Neil Patterson 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas

The following are some great oil painting tips by Neil Patterson as he was doing his painting demonstration up on a stage in front of about forty people or so.

  1. “Paint with the paint, not the brush. Paint like a millionaire, use lots of paint.”
  2. “Don’t think about values.” He only thinks about colors.
  3. “Have no preconceived idea…have more feeling. If you have a preconceived idea, it will never turn out that way.”
  4. “The connection that people have to painting is what sells. The type of painting you do depends upon your temperament.”
  5. “If painting is misery, you might as well go clean house.”
  6. “Don’t let galleries pigeon hole you – you  paint what you want.”
  7. “Painting is the road that never ends. I know less now than when I started.”
  8. “I don’t care if my painting turns out or not, because I enjoy myself.”
  9. “We think paintings are more important than they really are. The act of painting is the  important thing.”
  10. “Yellow is the tip of the nose, red is the modifier, and blue is cold. People are attracted to the fire, not the cold.” Keep this in mind when you are painting. Yellow advances more than any other color, not red.
  11. “Windsor & Newton developed the paint brush with the black handle, so an artist can use it to check the values of the painting.”
  12. “Take A Chance!”
  13. “If you really want to be a better painter, do this: Prepare 365 small canvases for painting. Every morning when you get up, before you do anything else, paint one painting for fifteen minutes. No more than fifteen minutes. Number them. You will learn to paint in bigger areas and paint faster.” He mentioned that he had one person from one of his workshops do this, and the results were incredible.
  14. “There are no rules. If there are rules, you have to stay within them. When you paint a long time, you have your own set of guidelines. If we all paint by the same rules, we all paint the same way.”

The one thing I could really “feel” as I was watching and listening to Patterson was the freedom he must feel with his work. I felt free just watching him put that paint down. It was a really good feeling. At the end of the painting demo, Mr. Patterson preceded to put a frame on the demo painting, and give it away to the person with the right number taped beneath their chair. It wasn’t me, sorry to say. How cool is that? If you would like to check out more artist about Neil Patterson go here-

My next post in this three part series has no oil painting tips. It will be on art marketing. I attended two different seminars on the subject during this same OPA weekend, and there was some really good information. Be sure and bookmark this site or subscribe, so you will get that next post. In the mean time, I hope you got at least one good suggestion from this article on oil painting tips.  One more tip -here’s a really good article: Remember Your focal point when painting  

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  1. those are owsam


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