A few simple tips for oil painting - selecting oil painting brushes, using the fat over lean rule, cultivating a keen eye and being observant.
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There are three basic types of brushes for oil painting:
  • Natural ivory-coloured hog-hair bristles that are rather stiff
  • Sable bristles that are silky and brown in colour
  • Pure white synthetic brushes that are springy when you bend the bristle back and forth
Hog-hair bristle brushes are the traditional oil painting brushes, but nowadays modern synthetics made of nylon filaments are becoming common with many artists.  The synthetics outlast the bristle brushes by about 5-1.
Before using any brush for the first time gently flex it in your fingers to break the sizing that protects it.
Sable brushes are used mainly for smooth blending of strokes and tiny precise detail work and for signing your name when your painting is finished.  Usually a round pointed number 1 or 2.
Fat over Lean Rule:
This is one rule in Oil Painting that should be observed:
'Fat over Lean" - means always applying fatter paint (paint with more oil in it) over leaner paint (paint with more turpentine in it).
The reasons for this are -
Fat, oily paint is flexible whilst lean paint is brittle.
If you apply a layer of 'lean' paint on top of a 'fat' layer, it will in time crack and flake off as the lower layer expands and contracts.
Cultivate a Keen Eye:
When we look closely at nature we see an overwhelming profusion of details and ever-changing variables.
As an artist we need to simplify and create an understandable image.  It is not possible to capture three dimensional data onto a two dimensional surface - we need to edit.
Try very quick (1 or 2 minute) sketches of anything and everything to get to the very essence of a scene.
Cultivate your 'keen eye' by beginning to draw on a daily basis.  Carry a small sketchbook with you and just keep sketching - your drawings will become more accurate with time and practice.