Oil Paint Q&A

Oil painting is seemingly feared by some artists and seen as a kind of alchemical approach to painting, where only the true sage-like artists have access to it. This is false. Let’s look at it in a bit more detail and answer some common questions…

Why use oil paint?– The main difference between oil and other painting mediums is drying time. Oil dries slowly, giving the artist plenty of time to mix colours. More time equals more control over your mixes. Oil is naturally glossy, so colours are more vibrant and vivid, even when dry. Whereas watercolour and acrylic look duller when dry.

Is oil painting complicated?– No. It’s the most forgiving medium of all, as you have lots of time to make corrections. I think one of the reasons that people have come to think of oil as complex comes from a time when the materials and mediums were scarcer.

Once upon a time artists had to source their own raw materials, go through the laborious process of grinding them down and turning this into a paste that would be used as paint.

Also, it’s not a water-based medium, so some people immediately shy away from it. The difference with oil is you substitute water for an oil medium, which thins the oil and makes it more fluid. Oil painting is not more complex than other painting techniques, it’s just that the possibilities of the medium are vast.

Is oil paint toxic?– In some regards it can be considered unsafe if you’re not using any common sense. Oil paint consists of oil and pigment combined. As long as it’s not swallowed, it is safe.

Again, the reputation for its toxicity comes predominantly from a time when some of the components of oil paint included lead, mercury, and sulphur! Safety issues stem mainly from the solvents used. However, the worst offender, turpentine, is not used in class.

Instead, I use a thinner called Zest-It, which is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and smells of citrus fruit. It is a great alternative to ‘turps’, and is used to thin paint, and to clean brushes at the end of the session.

What materials do I need?– All I ask is that you bring in an old rag to clean/wipe your brushes whilst painting. This is more of a practical issue than an absolute necessity. When you’re in the midst of a painting, it is beneficial to have a rag at hand to wipe off any excess paint. Otherwise you have to find tissue or kitchen towel which takes you out of the flow of painting and becomes too much of a distraction.

All other materials are provided, which include easels, boards, brushes, palettes, brush-holder tubs, paints, mediums, thinners, and paper.

Art Courses Birmingham Testimonials

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This course was a lifesaver for me and provided a wonderful opportunity to develop my oil painting skills. The expert instruction and demonstration delivered with such ease by Peter made the whole experience so enjoyable. Too much information I will need to enrol on a future course to process this one! Thank you Peter.

Mary Blackall

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I wanted to draw and paint all my life, particularly as this was not part of school in India at the time! So I waited until I retired and joined Peter’s class. I have had the opportunity to try different mediums and techniques. I even dared to draw in a museum setting with Peter’s encouragement. I have enjoyed learning and continue to do so because the atmosphere in the class is very informal and relaxed. I never thought I would be able to draw and paint but with Peter’s help, I am thoroughly enjoying it. Peter is a passionate, interested teacher

Dr. Prema Iyengar

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Art is a challenge, a pleasure and a struggle. It is also rewarding and a creative escape so a wonderful antidote to stress. Since joining Peter’s ‘Painting for Pleasure’ group in 2015 I have experienced all of the above. But above all, my knowledge and skills in pursuit of progress have been nurtured, nudged, directed and guided by the most skilful approach and ‘light touch’ of Peters’ tutorledge. He invites you to join in his passion and delight of colour and ‘mark making’ whilst exploring art through the ages, both classical and contemporary styles, but above all through the sheer pleasure of ‘having a go’! The atmosphere Peter creates is supportive and inclusive of all abilities. He knows how-to guide, lead, and deliver what can be a challenging subject and is able to do this with skill, humour, experience and passion. All the ingredients, in my opinion, of a much-valued teacher

Lynette

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I initially contacted Peter to have one to one painting lessons which were absolutely great and I learnt so much. He then told me about the Saturday painting classes he runs in St Paul’s Church and I just had to check it out! From my first visit till today I am so amazed by the space in which we get to paint. The church itself is such an inspiration. Peter allows us through his own demos and guidance to try out new styles of paintings. Each week is a different style and I look forward to having a go (not always feeling confident to start but as there are other painters in the same position we all have a good time trying it out!) There are weeks when I just want to do my own painting and Peter has given me tips on how to do that. So the classes are what you make them too! I absolutely love my Saturday painting class and highly recommended it to anyone wanting to paint, whether it be for the first time or someone who feels like they don’t have the time or space at home. It’s given me back my love of painting. I’ve now got the time and space to do it and have met some great people to paint with. Thanks Peter!

Vas

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Peter’s classes are perfect for the novice. Everything is provided. You are only asked to bring a rag to wipe your brushes or take excess paint off the canvas. He takes the time to explain the materials and how to get the best out of them, setting tasks that help you explore and get used to oil paints and how they work. In the first few weeks, he also teaches how to stretch canvases and mix colours. Everyone is allowed to work at their own pace and he encourages each person with advice and guidance to help them achieve the best results and gain in confidence. I would highly recommend his classes.

Gill

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Peter is an inspiration and has a wealth of knowledge on skills and techniques gained through his ongoing work as a professional practising artist. I now totally embrace oils as my weapon of choice – what a fantastic medium! All this is down to, firstly Peters recommendation I should try oils and then his enthusiasm and guidance. Id recommend his classes unreservedly!”

Gareth

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I have been doing lessons with Peter for over one year. Learning with him is quite fun but effective at the same time. Although he plans the topic for each lesson, he is quite flexible and allows people to go at their own pace. He is also happy for students to develop their own work during lessons if they prefer to, while helping them with comments alongside. He always looks at the work I do outside of the lessons when I email them and gives his views and suggestions on how to improve them. Thanks Peter, very much appreciated.

Shikha

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I have been attending classes with Peter for three years. I have vastly improved my painting in that time. He draws on the positives of what you paint and builds your confidence. He also comments on how to improve. He makes the class interesting by setting various themes; paintings styles from different cultures or painting in the style of a particular artist. His classes are engaging and very interesting – he encourages us to explore different painting techniques and helps develop your own style of painting. He is a very enthusiastic tutor and passionate about his craft and keen to share his knowledge with students.

Ganisha