Sketching with oil paints
Oil paint is an easy alternative to watercolour paint when you go out sketching. These days there are even water based oils on the market, so you don't even need turps - just thin your paint and wash out your brushes in water.
Oils have certain advantages and certain disadvantages over watercolours, when painting outdoors. The advantages are that you can cover over mistakes, easily get the right colours (see below) and produce some complete paintings in a short space of time.
The two main disadvantages are that oils are a bit heavier to carry around with you, and there may be a problem in carrying wet oil paintings home, although both these problems can be overcome by using a pochade box (see 'equipment' below).
What equipment willI need?
Click on the picture to find out what I recommend for sketching outdoors in oils.
Painting colour accurately
Here's an easy tip for getting exactly the right colour and tone with oil paint.
Simply mix your colour with a palette knife and hold it up to the object you are trying to copy. It is then so easy to see if your paint mix is too light or too dark, or if it needs a bit of another colour adding to it to get it right.
Mix and repeat until the colour is exactly the same as on the object, and there you have it! Your painting will be an exact copy of the subject - at least in terms of colour!
Making small studies
These paintings all measure just 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm) and were painted using the pochade. By keeping the studies small it is possible to complete a whole painting in 1-2 hours, or even less. This has two advantages. Firstly, your paintings will keep loose and fresh. You can't fiddle too much with a small painting and so you won't get so bogged down in unneccessary details. Secondly, if you live in a cold climate like I do, these 1 hour studies mean you don't freeze to death while out painting!
Watch me paint a farmhouse in oils
Watch me paint en plein air using water mixable oils.