6 Oil Painting Techniques You Can Follow

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Most of the time when I teach at paint and sip parties, I teach the guests how to create an acrylic painting. Once in a while, however, I am asked to lead a class in oil painting.

In most cases, I only teach oil painting at paint and sip parties where the guests have some previous painting experience. I don’t find that oils are ideal for beginners.

Oil paints have been used by artists for hundreds of years, and many of the masterpieces we admire today were created in oils. This medium is still popular with many artists today. 

While some of the painting techniques are the same for oils and acrylics, there are also many differences. 

I wrote an article about oil painting tips. The purpose of today’s article is to help you to better understand some of the basic oil painting techniques that I teach at sip and paint parties. 

Let’s get started.

How to Oil Paint

You can follow these techniques when working with oil paint:

#1. Wet on Wet

The wet-on-wet technique, also referred to as Alla Prima (Italian for “all at once”), involves painting in layers before the previous layers have dried. Using this technique allows you to complete an oil painting within a few hours (minus the drying time of course).

When using other oil paint techniques, it can take weeks or even months to complete an oil painting. This is why I don’t often teach oil painting at paint and sip parties. I want each guest to be able to complete a painting in a single session.

For the wet-on-wet technique, I make sure that the paint party guests are using the right materials. This includes wet paint and brushes that are rather stiff.

Using this technique allows you to create some cool textures on the wet paint. This is because as you are painting, you will be using various amounts of pressure on the brush, as well as a variety of brush types.

Because you will be working with a wet surface, you will be able to create a lot of depth in your painting. This technique also makes it easier to move the paint around for blending and other techniques.

#2. Dry Brushing

Let’s say the paint and sip guests are creating a piece of art that should look soft and almost ethereal, or you want to add light shadows. This is when the dry brushing technique can come in handy.

For this technique, I make sure each of the paint party guests has plenty of dry brushes and paper towels.

Dry brushing involves using raw paint. This means that I won’t be bringing out any mediums for guests to use while they are dry brushing.

There are two ways to pick up the paint when using the dry brushing technique. I often see many confused faces at painting parties when I don’t put any paint on the palette. While you can use paint that has been mixed on the palette, I like to show everyone how to use this technique by taking the paint directly from the tube.

You don’t want to have too much paint on your brush. So, the next step is to use a paper towel to remove any excess paint.

When dry brushing you will be “stabbing” the paint onto the canvas. This means that you will be hitting the canvas with the tip of the brush.

Using this technique allows you to get some texture into the painting without covering too much of the underpainting so some of that shows through.

This technique works best when used on a painted surface that already has texture and that is dry.

You can check these easy oil painting ideas to get started.

#3. Blending

One of the main oil painting techniques I talk about at paint and sip parties is blending. This is one of the easier oil painting techniques and one of the most common.

There is more to blending colors than simply mixing them on your palette. When blending with oils on the canvas, you will be using soft brush strokes to blend two or more colors. 

One of the things I do enjoy about using oils at a paint and sip party is that it is a great way for students to learn how to blend colors without worrying about the paint drying too quickly. This can be a problem when using acrylic paints or watercolors.

When blending edges in an oil painting, I tell paint and sip guests to use a soft, round brush. Using a flat brush will create lines that you may not want in your painting.

I often have to warn paint and sip guests about blending too much. When it comes to blending a little can go a very long way.

Sometimes people will blend when they really should have some texture remaining. Or, they blend when there is no need for transitional tones. The result could be a painting with colors that look muddy, or even losing some of the important details of the picture.

#4. Scumbling

Scumbling is a fun technique that doesn’t involve using a palette. A stiff, dry brush is used, and the paint is taken directly from the tube.

Using this technique allows you to create some texture in your painting, which is what we expect from oil paintings. It also helps to create softness or depth in paintings.

When using this technique, you will be lifting some of the paint off the previous layer of paint. I have had so many students begin to panic because they lost some details and thought they may have done something wrong. They are thrilled to learn that they are doing it exactly right.

You need to use a stiff brush, as I mentioned, and a light hand for scumbling. The stiff brush is what pulls the paint from the base layer, and the light hand keeps you from pulling off too much base layer paint.

This is a technique that is often used for landscape and skyscape paintings, which are among the most popular at paint and sip parties. For example, it is perfect for painting clouds to make them look light and fluffy.

#5. Impasto

Another way to add texture to oil painting is to use the impasto technique. This is commonly used for impressionistic paintings.

You can see visible brush strokes when using this technique. For impasto, you will need to use a medium that will make the paint even thicker than usual. You will also need to use either a stiff brush or a palette knife.

Use the knife or brush to apply the paint that has been mixed with the medium onto the canvas. You do not need to worry about blending, and yes, those lines and sharp edges are supposed to be there.

Painting with a palette knife can be a bit tricky, but it is a technique that many paint and sip guests ask about. This is probably because they have seen artists like Bob Ross and others painting with a palette knife, and they want to learn more about how it is done.

One of the things I like the most about Impasto is that because mediums are used, the paint dries faster than it normally would. This is why I like to teach impasto at paint and sip parties.

Some people prefer to mix colors on the canvas instead of using their palettes. Impasto is the ideal technique for anyone who wants to try doing this.

#6. Glazing With Oil Paint

Glazing with oil paint is an intriguing technique that adds depth and luminosity to your artwork. I often introduce this technique to my students who are looking to elevate their oil painting skills. 

Glazing involves applying transparent layers of oil paint over a previously dried layer, allowing the underlying colors to shine through. This method creates a rich and translucent effect that can enhance the overall composition and give your painting a radiant glow.

To achieve a successful glaze, it’s essential to work with thin and transparent oil paints. I always recommend my guests to use quality glazing mediums or a mixture of oil and solvent to achieve the desired transparency. 

With a soft brush, gently apply the glaze over the dried layer, taking care to maintain the luminosity of the underlying colors. Glazing allows for subtle color adjustments, harmonizing tones, and creating a sense of atmosphere and depth in your artwork.

One of the advantages of glazing is its ability to build up layers gradually, allowing you to achieve complex color variations and subtle transitions. By patiently applying multiple glazes, you can create stunning effects and achieve a level of realism in your oil paintings. 

However, it’s important to exercise caution while glazing to avoid muddying the colors or losing the desired effect. Remember, a light touch and careful observation of the drying times are key to mastering the art of glazing with oil paint.


While these aren’t the only oil painting techniques I teach at paint and sip parties, they are the ones I do teach most often.

When it comes to underpainting, I usually do that before a painting party. This allows the underpainting a few days to dry before the students begin working on their masterpieces.

See more: Oil vs acrylic painting

*image by Nomadsoul1/depositphotos