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Taking your first or improving your brushstrokes in oil with Robin Souter

Updated: Jan 9

The flexibility of oil paint has made it a favourite medium for artists for centuries. It can be transparent or textured, in brilliant colours or subdued and its long drying time allows you to manipulate and blend colours giving endless creative opportunities.


However, if you haven't painted in oils before, getting started may seem daunting. Robin Souter, a resident artist at Westbury and tutor on the new workshops in land and seascapes in oils, addresses some common concerns.


Painting by Robin Souter
Painting by Robin Souter

I have painted in another medium before (e.g acrylics or water colour) will it be difficult to change?

Robin would recommend attending at least four classes to see how you can develop in oils. Experienced artists using acrylics should be able to transition to oils easily. Equally water colour artists will be excited to learn what new effects oils will bring to the table.


Oils are very forgiving and these classes are relaxed and designed for enjoyment.


Do I need to be able to stand up at an easel for four hours or can I paint sitting down?

You can stand or sit for all or part of the class. The advantage of standing is that it is easier to avoid getting too close to your work in progress. It’s very much up to individual choice.


How dangerous are the solvents in oil paint and for cleaning brushes? Will they affect my breathing or irritate my skin?

It is very unusual to have problems with low odour solvents used in modern oil painting. Clearly if students are experiencing difficulties this needs to be brought to Robin’s attention. He is a medical doctor of over 40 years’ experience so you can be reassured that you are in safe hands.


How do I get paint off my clothes?

Do wear old clothes. Oil paint gets into all sorts of places! An apron is helpful and make sure that you don’t overload your brush with paint. If paint gets on your hands there will be wipes to clean it off and if on your clothes, you can use solvent.


Where can I buy supplies for oil painting locally?

Hobbycraft, Rooksley Milton Keynes has good supplies (www.hobbycraft.co.uk/stores/milton-keynes) as does SKILLS Art Materials & Picture Framers in Stony Stratford, and online worth using are Jackson’s (www.jacksonsart.com) and Cass Art Cass Art: Quality Art Supplies - Best Prices | Cass Art.

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