Oil Painting for Beginners with artist Julie Beck

Posted by Vincent Keeling on

This is an excellent introduction to the stuff of oil paint by Julie Beck, a wonderful artist teaching at the Academy of Realist Art Boston.  No matter whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, there are always confusing and mysterious elements around the practice of oil painting.

Introduction to Oil Painting by artist Julie Beck

I’ve been at this myself for over thirty years, but there were still little nuggets of valuable information in here for me; And even besides that, it’s never any harm to hear another professional with great communication skills lay out the foundational information as a refresher. And as Julie Beck is just a great communicator, chatty, funny and easy going, super knowledgeable and just plain likeable, the 2 hours 44 mins of video doesn’t lag.

Although in saying that that I never watch these things in one go. It’s more a case of stolen moments away from work while doing the dishes or cooking to soak this stuff up. And of course, you can always listen back again at any point if a little clarification is required.

So what’s in this video you might ask? It’s not a demo or step by step, but all about the basics of oil painting materials with sprinklings of strategies and principals in the mix too. And indeed, hints at more advanced approaches too. Things covered include the various properties of the colour pigments, the brushes, canvases and panels, palettes, cleaning, health and safely and all that. And finally, interweaved within all these must know basics, are lots of little pearls of wisdom and hard won by experience, that might just save you a ton of headaches if you barrel ahead trying to figure it all out on the fly.

(More info below but in the meantime here's one of Julie's many beautiful still life paintings)

Still life oil painting by artist Julie Beck

As I was watching it again, I also took some quick notes in the form of bullet points so will put these below here as a very rough guide.

 Topics covered in the first video!

  • Health and safety
  • Cleaning brushes without solvent
  • Properties of pigments
  • Colour codes that represent the pigment versus nick names. Scarlett Lake.
  • Brands of paint
  • Familes of colour – yellow and browns.
  • Transparency and opacity
  • Drying time
  • Lead white versus titanium white
  • Student paints versus professional paints
  • Recommended palette
  • Palette knivies
  • A little bit on alla prima or direct painting, versus layered or indirect painting
  • Colour chart exercises
  • Interesting that this whole thing comes after training in drawing
  • Lots of good tips
  • Sticking with the same colours to get to know them. Takes time.
  • Fat over lean and best practice
  • Brushes
  • Different mark making
  • Shapers
  • She likes Bristles for the first layer because they force her not to get into fiddly detail, but then softer brushes for subsequent layers.
  • Which brushes can be a very personal thing, but they behave in distinct ways.
  • Also supports, canvases, panels etc
  • Finding what works for you.
  • Archival qualities.
  • Mediums, solvents, and oils etc.
  • Dangers of too much solvent.
  • Dangers of breaking the rules of fat over lean, with an emphasis on drying times of layers no flexibility per say.
  • Mixing raw umber and ivory block into a value string.
  • All colours relative.
  • Explaining effects of over painting and glazing.
  • Layers

 Hope you like this Youtube video with Julie Beck as much as I did.

Oil Painting 101 - Beginner Oil Painting Information



By the way, much more from Julie Beck on her website including full length instructional videos.



Or here’s her Instagram if you want to see what she’s up to.



Ok, that’s all for this one!

Take care and will post another Art Blog soon!

Vincent Keeling

PS. If you don’t forget to support these artists in any little way you can and if you fancy it you can SUBCRIBE BELOW to receive weekly email updates and be part of The Art Nerdy Journey crew. 


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