How to Paint a Simple Still Life using Oil Paints


Morning class!

If you’ve ever wanted to have a go with oils but felt the mysterious mix of Linseed Oil and Turpentine put you off, then this simple still life study is for you.

It uses just one medium mix the whole way through and I demonstrate the similarities between the techniques we’ve been using on previous acrylic paintings tutorials.

Traditional oil painting medium recipes can be complicated but it’s not essential to master it all so I’ve kept it simple so you can get painting.

Switching between acrylics and oil paint can be a smooth transition, the main difference is how you dilute the pigments.


Materials you will need:


  • 1.5-inch Purdy decorators brush for applying the coloured ground– XL Monarch Elite
  • Bright shape (flat) Series 6562 –  Isabey Isacryl  – Size 6
  • Small round nylon brush about 5mm diameter (any brand will be fine)

Palette Knife


  • I demonstrate on a 10 oz cotton duck canvas board 4mm thick (about 7 x 5 inch) that’s had 2 coats of white acrylic Gesso applied by the manufacturer.

Other Materials

  • Kitchen roll/paper towel
  • Clean water (to dilute the acrylic coloured ground)
  • Tear-off palette or wooden palette
  • 0.7mm Shock Brown Acrylic marker from Montana

Paints – The Colour Palette

I use a mix of Winsor & Newton Oil Paints. I use a student grade acrylic paint for the coloured ground.

Coloured Ground

  • Pale Umber Acrylic (Winsor & Newton – Galeria)

Main Painting

  • Titanium White Alykd (Winsor Newton)
  • Burnt Umber Alykd (Winsor & Newton)
  • Winsor Blue (Winsor & Newton) Also know as Phthalo Blue – Green shade
  • Burnt Sienna (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale (Winsor & Newton)


  • Odourless Mineral Spirit (Gamblin Gamsol)
  • Refined Linseed Oil (Winsor & Newton)

Swapping water for a medium

A medium is something added to oil paint whilst mixing to dilute it and can help with blending, glazing, brush techniques and the handling qualities of the oil paint.

The most common medium for oil painting consists of two ingredients mixed together:

  1. Refined Linseed Oil: Made from the seeds of the flax plant. It adds gloss and transparency to paints, it dries very thoroughly, making it ideal for under-painting and the initial layers. Refined Linseed Oil is a popular, all-purpose, pale to light yellow oil which dries within three to five days.
  2. Turpentine (or Odourless Mineral Spirits OMS) – The traditional solvent or thinner for a drying oil, such as Linseed oil. It is used to ‘cut through’ the oil in oil paints, however, due to this ability, it has a strong solvent smell so is best used in a well-ventilated area. Alternatively, I suggest using an Odourless Mineral Spirit (OMS) such as Gamsol, a safer solvent that allows oil painters to use most traditional painting techniques without compromising on the vapours.

3 Parts : 1 Part

For this still life study, we’re going to use a mix of Linseed Oil and Odourless Mineral Spirits (OMS) to create our paint medium.

  • 3 parts Odourless Mineral Spirits (OMS): 1 part Refined Linseed Oil

The one thing to remember with a medium is less is more, you only need such a small amount of it otherwise you find yourself chasing the paint around the canvas instead of being able to scrub it in.

Pro tip: To add the oil to the OMS, I use a pipette, it just makes it easier to judge exact proportions.

Downloading the reference photograph

There’s a downloadable reference image you can work along from at home.

The photo below can be ‘right clicked’ and ‘Save image as’, so you can print it out and use it as a reference image.

still-life-oil painting-for-beginners-step-by-step

The reference image to work from is at a 7-inch x 5-inch ratio

Step #1


To ease us into the oil study, the first stages use acrylic paint and an acrylic marker.

I’ve painted a 7 x 5-inch canvas board with a Pale Umber acrylic ground (from Winsor & Newton Galeria Student Range) see: How to paint a coloured ground 

Pro tip: Make sure that you add a little water into the Pale Umber acrylic ground, you don’t want the layer to be too thick because you want the next layer of oil paint to grab onto the surface.

The cup is sketched in with an acrylic marker from Montana, 0.7mm in Shock Brown, similar in hue to a Burnt Umber.

Step #2


We can now move on to oils.

The table colour was blocked in using Burnt Umber and a touch of Burnt Sienna mixed together and diluted with a little bit of our medium mix. I washed in the shape around the spoon handle for warmth, then added Titanium White into the mix which lightened the tone and cooled it. This lighter base tone was blocked in around the cup.

Pushing the dark background pulls forward the positive form of the cup and saucer.

Step #3


I darkened the area around the spoon handle with neat Burnt Umber. Because the paint is still wet underneath, it seamlessly blends into the previous warmth.

I then wash in a base orange colour of Burnt Sienna diluted with a little of our medium mix for inside the coffee cup, a lighter Burnt Umber and Titanium White mix is scumbled along the top third of the painting using a dry brush, which gives a nice texture.

I also start to block-in the turquoise colour of the saucer using neat Titanium White mixed with a tiny touch of Winsor Blue (Phthalo Blue – green shade).

Step #4

I’ve blocked in the rest of the turquoise tones. To darken the mix I’ve added Burnt Sienna into the turquoise, this takes down the blue and makes a nice neutral grey hue.

In the top right of the composition, there is a turquoise circular shape going out of frame. This gives an indication that our cup and teaspoon is just part of a bigger scene and brings the turquoise colour into other areas of the painting.

Step #5


I place some stronger diluted Burnt Sienna mixed with Titanium White inside the cup to intensify the hue. Using a small round brush I add a Cadmium Yellow Pale and Titanium White mix around the rim of the cup and saucer. This won’t stay this strong, but it helps to act as a joining colour between the turquoise and the burnt orange.

Step #6


I mix a cream colour using Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Pale diluted with a tiny bit of medium.

I can then use this to blend the edges and soften in the yellow and also paint it into the centre of the cup. I’ve started to break through into the circular saucer shape at the bottom of the painting because it felt like my eye was dropping off the bottom of the frame.

Step #7


At this stage I add thicker white highlights to the cup and spoon, I now have my full tonal range for this study.

Step #8


I felt that the top right saucer from the previous stage was too much of a crisp line and kept grabbing my eye, so I’ve now broken that edge to make a more abstract shape whilst still keeping the colour note but increased the intensity a little.

I then focus back on the initial drawing and push the shadows darker around the cup handle, spoon handle and within the bowl of the spoon.

Inside the cup, I crisp up the lines and add more contrast with brighter cream notes around the top of the cup and dark in the base.

Finally, I break through the saucer a little more using a brighter turquoise mix and then intensify areas using that pigment.

I finish the study with a few dashes of Burnt Sienna around the rim of the saucer, total time painting about 1 hr.

Can you still follow the tutorial using acrylics? Sure, just make sure you mix a little more of the turquoise colour than you think you need if you want to try breaking through the edges of the saucer.

Really hope you enjoy it!


This Post Has 127 Comments

  1. Nora Aguirre- Reyes

    Awesome lesson! ☺

    1. Jennifer Preza

      Many thanks, most enjoyable lesson.
      (Thoroughtly enjoyed your “Venice”.. there end Feb., and inspired!!)
      Loving your website.

      1. Will Kemp

        Pleased you enjoyed the Venice lesson Jennifer and are finding the website of help.

  2. Louise

    Can’t wait to try this. Such beautiful colours. X

  3. Aundell Banks

    EXCELLENT, just what I was looking for — most tutorial art sites don’t or won’t go into just a little more detail like this…sometimes you may want an enthusiastic push to paint, Will your sight has always been that extra incentive PUSH to work at your craft!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Aundell, pleased you’re feeling inspired.

  4. Brendan

    Hey will you are amazing and your website has made me a better artist and Painter I’ve followed many of your acrylic lessons, I really want to embrace oil but for various health reasons solvent is a no no, even no odour solvent is still giving off fumes. I would absolutely love it if you considered a guide on how to do such oil painting with no solvents, is there away I can use this lesson solvent free?

    In the olden days before solvents they must have had a way? Also non solvent oil painting is quite popular these days but there’s a severe lack of info how to do it properly and what process, any help you can offer?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Brendan, thanks for your kind words. Yes, there are more and more solvent free oil mediums coming to the market, Gamblin have a new range of solvent-free mediums: but it does have slightly different handling properties than traditional oil mediums. You can also try water mixable oils or using other mediums like ‘zest-it’ which is citrus based and non-toxic.

      Hope this helps,


      1. Brendan

        Hi will thanks for your reply

        I did a lot of research into zest it in the past and my confusion was it still is giivng off gums just masked by the orange and probably a lot slower than normal solvent but solvent none the less, I now only use it to clean brushes outside.

        Thanks for the gamblin info I have seen these products for sale before but truly I have zero idea how to use them, I really can’t work out how the process is supposed to work because as far as I can tell solvent is used to thin the oil? Is this for fat over lean uses or to make it come off brush easier? So if I DIDNT want to use solvent and tried a gamblin product how would I translate the traditional process you use in this blog post into a non toxic gamblin product process? Any help much appreciated I’ve struggle with this concept for a long long time and have stuck to watercolour and acrylic because of it but I wanna explore oils too

        1. Will Kemp

          Hi Brendan, yes it is a bit tricky matching the traditional ratios of a solvent and oil mix as many of the solvent free mediums from Gamblin are essentially an oil and alkyd resin (M Graham also make a Walnut oil and Alkyd resin medium that can be used much the same) rather than anything to ‘cut’ through the oil to make it leaner. Gamsol, although low odour and refined is still toxic. If you build up the layers making them more flexible over less flexible you can still have the same multi layered approach. You can also block in with acrylics that have been diluted with water and then paint over the top with the oils diluted with a solvent free oil based medium.

          Hope this helps,

          Hope this helps,

          1. brendan

            thanks will

            I’m completely new to the idea of oil painting really, for example if I was following your lesson BUT using zero solvent and only gamblin non solvent mediums how would I layer it up fat over lean?

            would I just do the first layer is pure tube paint? or is it too stiff?

            for subsequent layers do I put a droplet of oil on every single dollop of paint?

            between colours ive been swishing my brush in pure walnut oil after wiping on a rag then wiping the brush on rag again and the brush is totally clean essentially.

            all and every tip gladly welcome! I really want to nail a non toxic oil painting process so I can really start enjoying it

          2. Will Kemp

            Hi Brendan, for this study it was all painted in one sitting within about an hour so you can just use one medium throughout the whole painting.

  5. Celina Gray

    Thank you for this. I can’t wait to try it : )

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Celina, hope you enjoy it.

  6. Ximena

    I will try this one! Happy easter to you too from Chile, South America!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Ximena, and a happy Easter to you.



  8. Barbara Stanley

    I love this! So loose and vibrant and beautiful. Thanks for sharing it and thanks for the lesson.

      1. Shirley Laprise

        Happy Easter Will. I will try this one. Thank you.

        1. Will Kemp

          And to you Shirley, really hope you enjoy it.

  9. Kingsley

    This is pretty cool. Hoping to try it out.

  10. Gale

    Would love to have this study across from while I enjoy my morning coffee. Love it!

  11. Lela Friel

    Thank You Will! Love this lesson and your cup! Makes me crave a cappuccino!

  12. Sue

    Thanks Will , love your work and tutorials , happy egg hunting Sue x

  13. Janet

    Hi Will,
    Just what I need to inspire me to pick up my brushes again ( after suffering a family bereavement). Happy Easter! Hope you found lots of eggs!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Janet, so sorry to hear about your loss, glad that you’re feeling inspired with the new lesson.

  14. Joseph Spiteri

    Hello, Will

    Happy Easter first and foremost

    Thanks very much for posting this. It is very illuminating. What I like most is that you kept in mind the whole picture all the time. Not just painting a cup and saucer and something around it. I am trying to do that at present and my work has improved.

    Cheers mate and hope that we hear from you again. Thanks for everything of course.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Joseph, pleased you enjoyed it, yes building up the whole of the piece together makes it easier to judge the relative values and colour relationships with the painting, glad you’ve found it helpful.

  15. Dan Scott

    Great lesson Will. Nice painterly style. Happy Easter!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Dan, Happy Easter! nice to hear from you, hope the websites going well.

  16. Carol

    Happy Easter Will :)
    Thanks for this lovely little study/ Easter present lesson!! As always, packed with info, but easy to follow. You’re a complete star – thank you!!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Carol, hope you had a lovely Easter too,

  17. Alexandra

    Linseed oil + gamsol are perfect. I use this combination with my oil paints, a few drops at a time, and then fold & blend with a palette knife. The best reference for texture is that of plain (not Greek) yogurt.

    I’ve never heard of an acrylic marker. Sounds way better than charcoal! Where do I find them?

    Thanks for your great tutorials!


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Alex, most art supplies stores now sell them, Liquitex and Montana ones are good.

  18. Michelle McShane

    Will, thank you. Always very generous to us ‘amateur’ folk, really appreciate it. Happy Easter.

  19. WENDY Hall

    Hi Will. Love the look of this little painting, but as I am trying watermixable oils, I am a little unsure about mediums. Could you give me any advice please. cheers in advance,
    and very many thanks for all your tips etc.
    Regards, Wendyx

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Wendy, for this study, just dilute the watermixable oils with water and it will work well as the painting is completed in one sitting.

  20. sophia michael

    Thank you so much Will. Exactly what I was looking for. Awesome lesson!!!!!

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re more than welcome Sophia, pleased you enjoyed it.

  21. Jane

    Hi Will – This looks really great. I love the impressionist look and the simplicity of the colours. I want to try it but for some reason I’m missing images #3, 4, 5 and 6. Am I doing something wrong?
    Thank you for your website. I am aged 75 and I began painting in acrylics last October after hurting my left wrist. The wrist is fine and the painting is going strong. I’ve painted two of my grandchildren and I intend to do all eight of them. I began by visiting your website – learned so much from you – thank you! Is there any way I can forward those two painting to you? Would love to hear your comments. All the best, Jane

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Jane, have you tried viewing the page on a different web browser?

      1. Jane

        Thanks Will, I’m sorted

  22. Liz Coyle

    Wiil, Thank you so much for all your generosity in sharing your knowledge with us.
    I really enjoy your teaching style and love your paintings!
    Hope you find lots of yummy chocolate eggs.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Liz, so pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons, yes eggs were found and sampled!

  23. Ruth Henriquez Lyon

    This is excellent. I’m new to oil painting, and I think the medium you describe is going to help me with handling those first layers of paint. I am going to work through the tutorial step by step — thank you so much.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Ruth, hope the painting turns out well for you.

  24. Alastair

    Thanks Will, that’s a nice, simple oil tutorial.

    I was always a little intimidated by oil but have mostly got over that now and in many ways prefer them. I think one thing that helped was realising you don’t need any fancy formula’s really and you can paint with pure oil colour, or just some white spirit to dilute a bit, at least to start with. This can keep things quite simple to begin with.

    Right now, I have begun your large Venice acrylic painting though, at least the initial brown underpainting. Got to get around to mixing the colours!

    Cheers, Alastair

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Alastair, glad you enjoyed it and pleased the Venice scene is going well.

  25. Maritza Burgos-Rivas

    Hi Will,
    Hope you’ve had a beautiful Easter and your fair share of Easter eggs!!
    ;I just wanted to say thanks for sharing such great lessons;so inspiring.I’ve just begun a very intense,and at times,emotionally draining job, which also requires me to travel away from home for a few days a time.So, I’m looking for short ,time compact projects to work on in my down time, and voila, I have your lessons wich are just perfect for the time poor .parttime painter. I will probably use acrylics when away from home,But I own a portable acrylic paper/card book that I just pop into my case or overnite bag and a compact set of Winsor & newton acrylics and brushes.As i write this ,I;m packing up to go on a 4 day asignement so I’m making sure to pack my painting supplies and hope to get through a few projects ,! Cheers from down under,


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Maritza, I had a lovely Easter thanks, and great to hear that you’ll be taking your painting away with you. It’s a great way to give your mind time to rest from everyday work problems and can be extremely restorative.

  26. georgia kasfiki.

    Love your lessons dear Will.Such a great artist.Hope you were closer .

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Georgia, very kind of you to say so.

  27. Allan

    Hey Will, Happy Easter to you as well. Glad I opened my emails and found this great tutorial. My wife and I were both discussing you recently regarding more from your site on oils… and here it is. We have already sent this link onto others and look forward to more. Thanks and cheers, Allan

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Allan, thanks for sharing the tutorial, very much appreciated, hope you enjoy it.

  28. Pam

    Hi Will
    I love your tutorials and always learn something new. I tend to be a bit rigid and only paint what I see. So I was interested in why you broke up the lower circular edge of the saucer. Could you explain further what exactly you meant by, ‘ my eye was dropping off the bottom of the frame?’ Thank you so much.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Pam, because of the sharp edge of the saucer at the bottom my eye was jumping to that first and then continuing on off the bottom of the canvas. When that edge was softened, the focus then came up the picture to be more focused on the center of the cup which is where i want the viewer to look. So if you look at step 5, notice how your eye is drawn down towards the yellow semi-circle at the bottom of the saucer, it tends to ‘rest’ on the lower half of the painting. Compare that to step 6, your eye now floats up more onto the dark center of the coffee cup.

      Hope this helps,

      1. Gabrielle

        Hi Will
        I am really looking forward to trying this project as a complete newcomer to oils (well I’ve done one painting so far and am completely in love with oils already!). I wanted to ask the same question as Pam and so just wanted to say thank you for such an informative answer as well as a very detailed original explanation. I must say that I am already very impressed by your site and also how you answer everyone’s comments!
        I am so looking forward to starting on this. Is it possible to use sansodor as the OMS? Or is sansodor something completely different? I am a total beginner and have bought myself some supplies but didn’t include turps because I’m trying to avoid the worst smells!
        Thanks so much
        Do you ever do courses in person?
        Thanks again

        1. Will Kemp

          Hi Gabrielle, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons and videos, yes you can use Sansodor, it’s also an Odourless Mineral Spirt. I don’t currently run any live classes, hope your cup painting turns out well.

  29. Nour Serhan

    Thabk you so much for this valuable lesson!! The colours are so nice! I will try it myself

  30. Beatrice

    Great I am going to try this asap.
    I have painted a still life in acrylic recently hopping all over your website and following many instructions. It was very enjoyable, but there is lots of room for improvement. The one point that I did not control was the colours in the final painting. It was as if the colours became bland over a couple of weeks after I had finished. Do you think this is to do with the quality of the paint or could it be that the ground colour (darkish umber) was set up too heavy?
    Thanks Will I enjoy your website tremendously.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Beatrice, with acrylics, the colours usually stay pretty close to how they finish, you’ll see a more noticeable change with oils if they are applied in thin layers. Artist quality paint have a higher pigment load so will cover over underlying paint colours more easily. You might find this article of interest: Student Grade vs Artist Quality Paints

  31. Jenni

    Brilliant lesson! Did this on a piece of cardboard with acrylic paint…first time in 20 yrs that I’ve painted anything! Loved every minute….Thank you so much!!

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased to hear it Jenni, really glad you enjoyed it.

  32. Namrata Patel

    Hey Will..
    This is great. I wanted this lessons so many times before. How wonderful you are. These are one of the greatest arts of U.Thanks a lot.

  33. Sherrie

    Very nice lesson, with good information on use of mediums. Love the looseness you created with your edges! Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Sherrie, hope you’re keeping well.

  34. Ademir

    I will try this one! From Brazil, I hope you had a good easter. I’m waiting for new drawing tutorials with pens like your fantastic Urban Sketching Tutorial for Beginners.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hope you enjoy it Ademir and really pleased you enjoyed the Urban Sketching lessons.

      1. Sigga

        Thank you

  35. Mary c jones

    Hi Will, I would like to join your classes for oil painting , I have been following you for some time in the hope you would do some oils, as I have so many unused oil paints
    and brushes from long ago, I have painted the odd thing back then, but
    with so much moving, and re settling, had lost the urge,
    Finally I’m trying to pick up again, but am basically starting from scratch, as i tried after some years to begin painting again, and just lost my way.
    So when I saw your beginners oil sketch from Easter 2017
    Please can you email me how I actually pay and join your classes
    Many thanks,
    Mary c jones

  36. Barbra Joan

    Will , thank you so much for this. I’m a watercolor painter but always wanting to do oils . I appreciate this simple subject and the tutorial with it.

    1. Will Kemp

      Really hope you enjoy it Joan.

  37. katja

    You are and absolute champion Will. It is so humbling to see someone like you give so much to the budding art community. Always informative, clear, very, very useful even for accomplished artists… always great to see work of others.
    You are an inspiration. Thank you. katja

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you to say so Katja, really hope you enjoy the lesson.

  38. Dina

    Hello, Will!
    A very good lesson. Thank you.

  39. cathy

    I learn so much from your lessons. Keep them coming!

    1. Will Kemp

      Pleased you’ve been enjoying them Cathy.

  40. parul mody

    Thanks Will for the lesson… Very well explained…will definitely try this out

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Parul, good luck with your painting.


  41. Iyke

    Nice tutorial, i followed the steps in the New project I’m doing.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Lyke, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  42. Candace Carson

    Thanks so much. I’m just starting to use oil and I learned a lot, very fun.

    1. Will Kemp

      Really pleased you enjoyed it Candace.

  43. Dora

    Dear Will,

    I love the colours of this painting tutorial. Although I have never tried oils in my
    life, I only paint with acrylics. May I ask your opinion about oil paints? Which one to choose? Are the water soluble oils the same as the “turpentine” based ones? Unfortunately I cannot use turps inside, but I also would like to buy pigments that really worth. Could you make any suggestions? I am so excited to try it. :)

    Many thanks,

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Dora,

      Watersoluble oils have different handling properties than traditional oils but the principles of approaching the painting are the same. They dry by evaporation to start with and then by oxidation so the handling properties can change quite a lot depending on the medium used to dilute the paint (water or linseed oil) If diluted only using water they can dry quickly and some brands have a tendency to separate when squeezed out (you can mix them together with a palette knife)

      Holbein Duo Aqua are good and have a wide colour range.

      Hope this helps,

  44. george

    Dear will
    i do thank you ,for your effort and such great lessons.your lessons and ideas really improved my style.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure George, so pleased you’ve found the tutorials have been helping with your painting style.

  45. Carrie

    Hi Will, thank you for this great introduction to oils! Can I swap the white spirits for zest it?
    Thanks :)

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Carrie, yes, you can use zest it, hope the tutorial turns out well.

  46. Cara MariAnna

    Will, you’re the 21st century patron saint of art. I LOVE your website, tutorials, classes, tips, insights, talent and enthusiasm. Thanks for your generosity and kindness! Keep spreading the beauty and the joy. We sure need it now.

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, you’re very kind Cara, really pleased you enjoyed the tutorial.

  47. Helle

    Hello Will,

    I recently bought myself a starter set of W&N mixable oils and I’m excited to start experimenting. To familiarize myself with their feel, I thought I’d try your cherry, apple and jug tutorials but are the principles that you teach for acrylics pretty much the same with oils and would I go about those studies the same way? Anything in particular I need to keep in mind when working with oils?
    Thanks so much once again for your wonderful guidance.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Helle, nice to hear from you, the main thing to keep in mind is that with the first thin application of paint when you paint the next thicker layer on top the thicker layer may pull the underpainting if it isn’t fully dry (in comparison to acrylics that dry in a few minutes) Hope you enjoy the painting.


  48. ping

    Hi, Will!
    Thanks for this great project. From it, I learned that I don’t need to copy the nature exactly, but follow the principles of beauty. Here is what I tried today, It’s done with ultramarine blue as I don’t have the pthalo blue( Thanks.

    1. Will Kemp

      Looks really good Ping! great brushwork and the colours work nicely together, really pleased you enjoyed it.

  49. Adam

    Hi Will,

    I am planning on trying this exercise very soon. I’ve never used an acrylic ground before though so I’m not sure exactly how much water to add.


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Adam, the amount of water will vary depending on the fluidity of the paint you’re using. You’re after an easily flowing application that covers the surface to give a stain effect without going too thick. Try a test piece of paper with a few different ratios of water to find a mix that has a nice flow. Here’s a video demonstration – How to apply a coloured ground.

  50. Johanna Gati

    Hello Will: Thank you for all your generous sharing of information. I go to your site often. Would you please tell me, ie. mixing green in acrylics, does the same mixture apply to oils as well??

    Thank you in advance

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Johanna, glad you’ve been finding the site helpful, yes, the same principles for mixing greens with acrylics apply to oils.


  51. Adeline

    Hi Will,

    I have just started on traditional oils using turpentine for the first 2 layers. However turpentine made me sick and I need to find a substitute. I have been reading about liquin and alkyd, but there are many different opinions and really quite confusing.
    If I use some liquin in the under painting, do I need to add on more liquin for subsequent layers? If liquin is used only in the under painting, and subsequent layers are just traditional oils, will it result in cracking?
    Appreciate your help and response.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Adeline, if you only used liquin as a medium you won’t need to add more in subsequent layers, it would only be if you added extra oil to the medium. You might also find this article of interest about water-based oils that can be cleaned with water so you can paint solvent free with oils.

  52. Sam

    Just google oil painting step by step and this was among the top.

    I confess that i did not read all the comments which may help me… but i will give this a go.

    I have years of training in traditional drawing and charcoal….
    …but none in oil paints with very little with acrylic.

    I have invested alot of time painting oil whilst winging it. Now many of my favorite paintings are starting to crack… and now i have no confidence in the medium with my knowledge.

    I have the tuffest time trying to find ratio with medium and pigment….with a timestamp.
    (e.g. using this medium ratio with oil and thickness….you need to let dry for x amount of time.)

    Any suggestions,

    Sam (New Orleans)

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Sam, as long as you keep the layers ‘fat over lean’ or more flexible over less flexible it will help to keep your paintings crack free. it can be handy to pre-prepare say 5 different ratios of medium before you begin, then when you move onto the next layer you can go onto the next mix.

      Hope this helps,


  53. Teo Elsmore

    Hi Will,
    I’ve been watching all your videos and absolutely love them! I saw the video walk through for this tutorial some time ago and can’t for the life of me find it? Do you know where I could find it? Have you uploaded it or am I dreaming ?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Teo, so glad you’ve been enjoying the videos. On this particular lesson is was a photo step-by-step only.

  54. Lora

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for the very helpful video. I prefer step 5 of the demo painting over your final step 8. I think the painting looks more finished without the smearing and I understand your logic as to why you did it. Would you say it’s just a question of preference?


    1. Will Kemp

      Sure Lora, yes it’s a personal choice, you often need to take your paintings super abstract and then photorealist so you can find a balance between the two that you prefer.

  55. Anne

    Do I need to clean my glass palette? If so, the simplest way?? Can you show yours mid demo? That would be helpful.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Anne, I tend to use a tear-off paper palette, but you can scrape off your glass palette with a cranked handle palette knife. Then wipe the palette with a dry paper towel. If there is still remaining paint residue you can use a little OMS and then wipe the glass down.
      Hope this helps,


  56. Karen

    Can this lesson be successful in acrylics using the same colors but in Golden Acrylics? If so- you mention dilution of acrylics (which sounds a little scary) that with a medium or water? Thanks so much for all your wonderful projects and instruction!

    1. Will Kemp

      Sure, you could follow along in acrylics. Just diluted with water will work fine.

  57. Diana Lanni

    Wow! I think I like this the most of all your paintings. I realize you have to do tighter stuff to be solvent, but this is exceptional! Thanks for another great lesson.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.