Learning Oil Painting: How To Paint A Puppy Dog

This video is an oil painting demonstration revealing to you how you can paint a puppy dog in oil paints whilst working from a photograph. This art tutorial is aimed at the beginner artist who wishes to know more about oil paint and traditional art and the format of the video makes this easy to understand with a mixture of time lapsed sections and real time art techniques in the field of oil painting.

The artist begins by explaining how you must not get into bad habits when you begin oil painting for the first time and has provided you with a list of good habits to adopt prior to your oil painting. These are: Treating the surface, preparing the paint, the proper use of brushes and thinners, how to paint what you see (strategy), the process of ‘sculpting’ a painting and the process of glazing.

He begins by demonstrating how to treat the surface of your canvas by applying gesso which acts as a protective layer which will prevent the oil paints from being over absorbed. There are a few sayings which artists use when they are describing how to use either gesso or the actual oil paints which describes the ideal consistency which you should mix up and apply whilst painting. ‘Like butter’ is used as a term which translates to the consistency of the oil paint as not having enough thinners or mineral spirits, whereas ‘like milk’ is the opposite and means you have applied too much mineral spirits to the paint oil paint mix leaving a very watery consistency. You are looking for a happy balance which falls between these two consistencies and with practice this becomes second nature. To make the oil paints creamy in texture and consistency you will need to add 3 to 4 drops of paint thinner using a palette knife on your palette (usually made from acrylic plastic or glass).

Oil painters use mineral spirits as well as for mixing the paints to clean out their artist brushes and their palettes after they have finished painting. A handy tip to remember when cleaning your brushes is to ‘wipe, dip, wipe’. The final wipe takes off the remainder of the mineral spirits and is particularly important for you to not further thin down your nice consistent pre mixed oil paints.

The artist refers to his strategy for painting in oils as the ’jigsaw puzzle strategy’. It is called this because when you are painting from an image you can pick shapes from it and paint them down much like a jigsaw puzzle. This takes away the laborious element of oil painting which some artists find and instead adds an element of fun to the painting. When you paint and visualise the shapes and manipulate the paintbrush to fit them accordingly laying down your oil paint confidently and deliberately. You will soon form a recognisable image with your paints. The artist also says of the importance of looking at your reference picture once every 5 seconds in this initial stage of painting in oils. Work by paintinjg the bigger shapes first working your way down to the smaller shapes and if you find you cant work your paint anymore on the canvas then simply allow it to dry and reapply with fresh oil paint. Oil paints are opaque so when you have allowed them to dry it is easy to re render and rectify your initial mistakes should you have made any. It is important to take your time on this step as it serves as a foundation for the finer detailing later on.

In the next stage of the oil painting you are looking to add your finer details with the paint brush and create textures by working very closely with your reference material. If you feel the consistency of your paint is not working quite right then you can easily add some more turpenoid to thin down the paint or alternatively add more oil paint to the mix to bring it back to a more natural oil paint consistency. The oil painting of the puppy dog took the artist about 1 hour in one sitting.

The artist describes whilst painting the puppy that painting is somewhere between drawing and sculpture and so with the use of opaque oil paints you can easily put down your paint brushes and come back to it the following day. This is also useful if you are taking on multiple paintings at once like most oil painters will do to save on any downtime. Throughout this part of the painting tutorial you see the artist using a variety of paint brushes to add a variety of strokes and textures to the different areas of the puppy. He uses highlights and tones to bring the puppy’s more prominent features out and is making sure he checks his reference photo every 5 seconds like he discussed previously.

This is part of a series of videos he uses to teach oil painting to beginners and the novice painter and I will be downloading the other videos and attaching them to this one to form a playlist. In the other videos he discusses further mediums to use with the oil paints to improve their qualities and also shows the aspiring oils artist how to use the glazing medium to its true potential and help further preserve their paintings. There are few areas which aren’t covered in this art tutorial so as an educational tool for learning how to oil paint I would highly recommend the viewing of this video. Remember, don’t rush your art work and bare in mind that the most important thing in art is to lay your foundations correctly so you have a solid platform to take your painting right through to the end with ease, confidence and enjoyment. Oil painting can and most likely will take a long time to master and as time goes on you will learn new and interesting painting techniques to create art work you never would have imagined possible. You can find the artist who has presented this video at www.merrillk.com to further your skills in oil painting. How useful was this art tutorial? Feel free to leave your artistic critique at the bottom in the comments box.

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    1. craftyonecent,That is always great to hear! I take the teaching “part” of my youtube channel very seriously…..It (teaching) is more than just “showing” what I know…..the art of teaching is communicating the ideas in a way that everybody can learn! Your comment means a LOT!!! Thank you!-Merrill 🙂

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    2. Thanks for the great video. I found the ability to correct and change things with oils very helpful. Just like you said, “let it dry and do it again tomarrow”. The more layers and the more you tune the details the better your image becomes.

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    3. This is great! Just what I was looking for because I want to try painting with oils. I dunno if you are aware, but your captions go rouge in part 3, then on top of that, they move to the center of the video. Your sound also goes almost too soft to hear at the start of part 3 (4:17).

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    4. This is great! Just what I was looking for because I want to try painting with oils. I dunno if you are aware, but your captions go rouge in part 3, then on top of that, they move to the center of the video. Your sound also goes almost too soft to hear at the start of part 3 (4:17).

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    5. Nice bid this will help alot you see when I paint with oils I sketch the pic first I have bben working on a lion cub for weeks I only have the nose and paw pads done becyse I don’t have a good color for fur. I’m only 13 so my work is rather sloppy with paint but I think my drawing skills arecrather impressive for my age. Anyways very helpfully bid but what if I get paint smeared on the caves when I set my hand on it by accident is there a way to cover it and have it look good?

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