Let’s do some oil painting together (from a distance)

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting | 110 comments

This post may contain affiliate links.

Since last summer, I have been working on an oil painting course for beginners.  Since it’s my own little project (and not for a client), I keep pushing it aside in favor of work with a deadline.  While I still plan to release that course someday (since it will be more comprehensive), I don’t want to wait to paint with those who have been asking to learn from me.  I know a lot of people are looking for fun, creative projects, so what better time to start oil painting if that’s been on your wish list?  If anything, it’s therapeutic.  It could be a jumping-off point to a whole new hobby, though!

Here’s how it’s going to work…

We’ll paint a landscape together and keep it small and simple.  In the 5×7 – 8×10 range.  We’ll only be using four colors with an optional 5th to keep costs down, two brushes, and I’ll give plenty of alternatives for supplies you may not have.  If this is successful, I’ll do some more follow-up “classes.”  I use the term “class” very loosely!  It’ll be more like we’ll all paint together and I’ll show you how I do what I do.

I’ll link to exactly what I use and give some low/no-cost alternatives as well.  And yes, you can use acrylics if you have those on hand.  Acrylics behave differently than oils, but you’ll still learn a lot about color mixing, composition, painting clouds, etc.

  • Oil Paints – Buy the best you can.  This is where you want to spend your money, because artist-grade paints have more concentrated pigments, so you can mix the colors without making mud.  I like Windsor & Newton and Gamblin.  (See below for some alternatives.)
  • Gamsol (This is to thin the paint and clean brushes.  You can also use turpentine, paint thinner, etc.) – Gamsol 14 oz bottle
  • Container for Gamsol/solvent (You can also use a glass jar with a screw-on lid) – Leak-Proof Solvent Container
  • Canvas panel (Buy the size of your choice.  I would suggest 5×7 or 8×10.) – Canvas panels on Amazon
  • Palette – I use a wood palette, but you can order a glass one (white or gray), a paper palette (again, white or gray), or use a paper plate, a piece of cardboard, or even a piece of glass in a cheap/old frame.
  • Paper towels
  • Ziplock bag
  • Soap to clean brushes & hands – I use Murphy’s Oil soap to clean my brushes and baby oil to clean my hands.  You can also use an olive-oil-based soap or any soap that will clean off oil and grease.
  • Easel – You don’t have to buy an easel, but could purchase an inexpensive tabletop easel.  If you want to get a little fancier, you can buy a pochade box that has an easel and palette built-in.  Really, though, you can paint flat or just prop your canvas up on some books or a cardboard box.  Don’t let the lack of an easel stop you from joining us!
  • Brushes – The specific ones I’ll be using are the No. 4 Eclipse Filbert (you can get it HERE, too) and the No. 1 Ivory Long Flat (you can get it HERE, too) both from Rosemary & Co.  They have confirmed that they are still shipping out customer orders.  If you don’t purchase those brushes, the key is to have one flat synthetic brush that is about 1/4″ wide and one natural bristle brush (hog’s bristle is fine) that is 1/4-1/2″ wide.  The confusing thing about brushes is that the numbers, like No. 4 and No. 1 are not standard.  Brushes can have the same number and be completely different sizes!  So, go off of an estimated width of 1/4- 1/2″.  We just don’t need huge brushes, since we’re working small.

If the paint is too expensive for you (it’s about $60 for the five colors listed in artist-grade paints), then use student-grade paints.  THIS SET of Winton by Windsor & Newton student oil paints is $22.45 and has all the colors you need plus a few extra.)

I linked primarily to products on Amazon, but you can also order from Blick, Jerry’s Artarama, Utrecht, Hobby Lobby, and I’ve heard that Michael’s is doing curbside pick-ups.  I don’t think they carry artist’s oils, but they will have everything else and the Winton set, most likely.  You can pick up canvas panels at Walmart or Target if you’re there for essentials, anyway.  (By the way, I have heard that Hobby Lobby stores are still open, which is disappointing.  Please just order online and don’t risk going to a store for non-essential supplies.)

The cool thing about working with a limited palette is that it’s #1 less expensive to get you started and #2 it forces you to really learn your colors and how to mix them.  With just these five colors, we can get a wide range from black to white, greens, grays, browns, yellows, blues, etc.  I use Burnt Sienna often as my “red” since I don’t use a lot of red in my landscapes, but if you are a “red person” and want to have that color, I’d suggest a Cadmium Red or Alizarin Crimson.

The painting below was done with just the five colors we’ll be using, though…

And here are a couple of color charts showing all of the beautiful colors you can get by mixing just Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow…

Ultramarine Blue & Burnt Sienna…

We’re going to paint this one together, because it has good clouds, and we can talk about making adjustments to so-so pictures to make better paintings.

So, let’s talk about the where, when, and how…

I’m planning to do the class on Facebook Live on my Miss Mustard Seed page, so it can be saved and I can post it here on the blog, YouTube, and share it to IGTV for those who can’t make it live.  The “class” will be about 60-90 minutes and I’m planning to do it next Friday (April 3.)  I will do the class during the day since I like painting in natural light.  I want to give everyone time to order and receive their supplies.  Sound good??

Some other answers to FAQ’s…

  • This class will be for absolute beginners, so there is no prerequisite to attend.  None.
  • If you want to just watch, you’re welcome, too!
  • No one will be able to see your work, so you don’t have to feel self-conscious.  Just let this be fun. (I will ask if people want to anonymously share their paintings, so I can share them with my audience, but that will be completely optional!)
  • I think this will be fun for kids to join in, too.  I would suggest acrylics or kid-safe for young kids, though.

If you have any other questions or things you would like me to cover in the class, please leave a comment on this post!

I am looking forward to it!

If you’d like some more information before you get started, you can find my oil paintings posts HERE and if you want some book suggestions, check out my Art Resource Page.


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    1. Michelle Gibbon

      This is awesome! Please consider doing a watercolor “paint together” in the future? Even a series of simple projects to learn watercolor technique would be excellent. You always inspire and amaze. God bless, and stay healthy!!

    2. Janet in Kansas City

      Can’t wait! Already had needed supplies in acrylic. Thank you so much for this. ?

    3. Cheryl

      I can’t wait! Sounds like fun.

    4. Kate

      I’ve ordered the supplies and so looking forward to this!! Thank you so much!

    5. Carol

      Looking forward to it!

    6. Terri

      Yay!!!! Some great news and I would love to participate! Thank you for offering.

    7. Lyndsey

      I have NEVER painted before and I’ve always wanted to! I will definitely give this a shot. Thank you for doing this (and for making it available in a different way than just Facebook live)! And, I agree with one of the other commenters, watercolors would also be fun 🙂

    8. Connie

      You don’t use any paint medium besides the Gamsol?

      • Marian Parsons

        I sometimes use a custom mix by Carol Marine of Gamsol, Stand Oil, and Linseed Oil when I need to thin down paints, specifically whites or when I’m filling in a large area (like around a portrait or still life.) I find that the consistency of the paint works just fine for me. I primarily paint Alla Prima (in one sitting) and in an impressionist style (where I lay the paint down and don’t do a lot of blending.)

    9. Jen

      Thank you for this, I have always wondered what colors of paint you used in your landscape paintings and I have always wanted to learn how to paint. I have bookmarked your post on facebook to save for a future time. I can imagine myself outside in the sunshine on a beautiful summer day painting away.

    10. Jeanne

      I am so excited!!! Thank you for doing this!❤️

    11. Elizabeth

      This is amazing!!! What a great idea!!

    12. Addie

      I painted some in high school but got away from it. Of course you’ve inspired me to pick it up again. This answers the question: How do I start again!!! I do need supplies. Thank you for all your sharing.
      Be safe and healthy….to All!!!

    13. Yoko Widya

      Do I need a paint thinner if I use acrylic paint?

      • Marian Parsons

        No, you don’t. You can thin acrylic with water or water-based mediums (like flow mediums that slow dry time.) You can also clean up with soap and water.

    14. Terry A.

      I have been looking forward to this! The picture we are going to paint looks like it could have been taken in my neighborhood.

    15. cate

      How do you ventilate your work space in the winter months?

      • Marian Parsons

        I can open a door if it’s not too cold. With the sunshine and all of the windows, this room can get hot! I’ll sometimes open the door when it’s in the 20’s! If it’s too cold, I have a Dyson air filter that I run along with the mini-split to circulate the air to the outside. I rarely use my solvents while I’m painting, though, and I keep the lid closed when not in use.

    16. Katie

      YEAH!!! I’ll be there!

    17. Kirstin

      I have a beginner’s kit but it didn’t come with burnt sienna. Is that a problem?

      • Marian Parsons

        Nope, just use what you have! Do you have raw sienna? Or what are your browns?

        • Kirstin

          I don’t have any brown of any kind. I’m just assuming that I should use my blue-red-yellow mix to create my own brown. Then again, it might be worth buying a brown. Otherwise I have to switch to acrylics.

          • Marian Parsons

            Just use what you have. I use Burnt Sienna as my red/orange to mute blues and greens. If you’re just working with primary blue, red, and yellow, then you might want to mix up an orange with red & yellow to have that on hand. We’ll talk a lot about color mixing when working with limited colors. I’ve worked with a primary-only palette before and you can get so many beautiful colors!


      Wonderful! I’m excited to watch and give it a try!

    19. Cindy Taylor

      I’m so excited. This will be great fun!

    20. Trista

      My mom and three daughters are me are all home together and this is the perfect project to learn together! Thank you very much. Also, this is the first time that a post on Instagram has ever driven me to join a blog – and read a whole post! I never have time for that! Anyway, thanks again and looking forward to it!

    21. Mary

      I am going to try to follow along with gouache. I am a watercolorist, but I do have a set of gouache. I know they don’t behave the same as oils, but heck, it’s just paper. Thank you for this Marian! You, and so many other creatives are being so generous with your time and sharing your talents and knowledge with us through this weird, uncertain time, and I want you to know that you are much appreciated.

      • Marian Parsons

        Definitely! I’m glad you will be following along in a different medium. And yes, gouache will behave very differently, but you can still do a beautiful landscape. 🙂

    22. Andi Biagi

      I’m very curious and very intimidated.
      I think best if I just watch for the first time.

      Is there a specific time on April 3 you will be doing this?
      I would love to watch it live.

      • Marian Parsons

        I will announce the time nest week and schedule an event.

    23. cheryl liberty

      oh boy ! just what i needed today Marian! its snowing here in rochester ny and am depressed over cancelling our two weeks in florida. i love this!!

      • Christine Irvine

        Marian, thank you so much for doing this!
        The timing is perfect for me. I’ve been quarantined since a week before the president called for it, because I am immune suppressed.
        So my goal during this time is to finally covert a spare bedroom into an art studio, and pick up where I left off…25 years ago! Now this class can be my first time painting in oils. Or I might just use the acrylics I have.

        Thank you, you are so kind and generous.
        New Hampshire

    24. PC

      I am so excited about the class!!!! I may have to replay it if i am back at work. I have about everything except an easel.

    25. Anne

      This sounds great!

    26. Nancy

      I’m in! Just ordered the materials. Thanks!!!!

    27. Naomi Shelton

      Not sure I can buy supplies right now, but I’m interested in watching what you do. I know I’ll learn something just by observing.

      On March 2 you posted about a creative retreat you took and I asked if you would consider selling one of the photos you took of the beach where you were. Did you happen to read my reply? I like the one image with your feet in it–with your fee cropped out! It would be to hang in my coastal decorated bedroom.

      • Marian Parsons

        Oh, sorry! That picture was just taken with my iPhone. I’m not sure how well it would enlarge. Send me an e-mail and I can send it to you. marian@missmustardseed.com

    28. Lexi

      I’m so there! What a wonderful and thoughtful offering you’re gifting here! ❤️ Thank you!

    29. Jane Miller

      Sounds like fun! I’m in!

    30. Paula

      I’ll be taking your class with my 10 year old daughter! We are excited!

    31. Ruth

      This is just what I need to get me back into my studio.
      Thank you Marian, you are so kind.

    32. Jo Telfer

      Thank you so much! Very excited and will have to watch it afterwards as it will be nighttime over here in Australia when you are recording.

      Also I am wondering how you did the two colour studies? Is there a correct way to get the gradual mixes?

    33. Heidi

      My daughter and I are so excited to do this. She was sent home from college and she loves oil painting. I have never tried it. She has online class at 900 that day but we are thrilled we can do it after the fact!!!

    34. Jackie

      Does the “Live Facebook” follow through to
      Instagram? (Not on facebook) Or do I do the online through YouTube or a latter taped session on instagram? I am so excited to try oils!!! Thank you so much!

    35. april

      love this idea, thank you

    36. Natalie

      Thank you so much for this Marian!

      Like everyone else I’ve been cooped up for some time now and could really use a creative outlet. Desperate to do something last night I tried my hand at a watercolor landscape for the first time and was really impressed by the outcome. I’m so excited about your landscape tutorial as I’ve been really wanting to learn to oil painting for some time now. I’m ordering what I need tonight to jump on this project with all of you.

      I’ve been following you for many years now and have always enjoyed and learned so much from your posts. I want to thank you for carving out time from your schedule to bring a little light into our lives during these very uncertain times.

      Stay safe and healthy everyone.
      (FYI my website is under construction and should launch in a few months)

    37. Meredith MacRitchie

      I LOVE this! It’s the perfect nudge I needed. At least one of my daughters and I will join you (we’re part of the acrylic club!) And I’ll see if I can convince Middle Child to join too. THANK YOU!

    38. Carole Prisk

      Okay, lovely of you to share your knowledge and preserve my sanity. Supplies are ordered as well as the crochet hooks and yarn. Now we wait for the mail with something to look forward to. Bless your heart!

    39. Judi

      Thank you so much Marian. I ordered the supplies and am so looking forward to doing this with my daughter. She is a high school senior, who absolutely loved her high school art classes. She is among the many seniors who are grieving their senior year being cut short abruptly. Hoping this will spark some joy into her creative heart.❤︎
      One quick question… the #4 Eclipse Filbert brush was on back order, so was wondering if you have any other suggestions for that particular one? Thanks!!

    40. Renee

      Oh how fun!!! Unfortunately they have backordered one of your brushes : ( I will try to figure what to buy elsewhere….looking forward to it!!!

      • Marian Parsons

        Which one do you need?

    41. Lisa

      Wow. Thank you! I can’t wait for your class.

    42. jeannie williams

      This is so exciting! Just hope I can get the supplies before the class!

    43. B Folk

      Marian, what a wonderful thing you are doing for us in these strange circumstances! Am I correct in understanding that you will post the classes to this blog, so that those of us without IG or FB can watch here at a later date/time? That would be wonderful!

      Thank you for your generosity:)

    44. Theresa

      This sounds like fun! I’ll be there. Blessings to you,

    45. Karen

      Thank you for this! Can’t wait!!!

    46. Evie Diane

      This makes me so happy! I have always admired all your paintings. Especially the landscapes and furniture pieces . I will definitely be a beginner, so this is perfect. THANK YOU!!!

    47. amanda

      I have followed along on your oil painting journey and it has definitely made me want to try myself! Thank you for offering this opportunity. My supplies are all ordered, with extra brushes so my 11 year old daughter can try also!

    48. Kelly

      What a wonderful gift, thank you for sharing your talents.

    49. Monica

      I have an observation/question: On both sample color charts you used Ultramarine blue (green shade). If you only added white to each color to lighten the color vertically down the chart, why is the ultramarine showing greens on one chart, and blues on the other? I’m sure you’ll explain in the class, but right now I’m confused. Thanks for taking time to teach us!

    50. Denise

      I am so ready to roll! Thank you for being so giving.

    51. Ruby

      I would love to paint with you! Would you consider a future class with a painting of the photo of your Creative retreat?. I am drawn to seascapes (maybe because I live in Florida..LOL)

    52. Staci

      I’m SUPER excited about this!! Thank you!

    53. Becca

      Thank you so much, Marian! This will be a welcomed group activity. My husband is out there every day risking exposure because his business is essential. So I will opt to use what I have on hand- which may be nothing more than good quality paper and acrylics- but I still look forward to learning!

    54. sandi

      Marian, looks like you’re going to have a huge class. Lucky you won’t have to take attendance!!
      I’m a jewelry designer, so have plenty of creative ideas to explore, but it will be fun to watch the class to ‘mentally’ learn how to paint.
      You are blessed with so many gifts…thank you.

    55. Miss Mustard Seed

      Yes, because I already knew what Ultramarine looks like with just white added (on a different color chart), I added just a smidge of the opposite color (Burnt Sienna and Cadmium Yellow Medium) to see a slight variation of the colors. I hope that makes sense!

      • Monica

        Yes, thank you!

    56. Tracy

      Your kindness & generosity to teach has profoundly inspired me to learn. I visited our local art supply yesterday (our town is NOT on lockdown) & purchased my supplies! This will be a first time endeavor & I have no expectation yet, you have created encouragement, imagination & empowerment. Thank you for sharing your blessing with all of us at this time of challenge.

    57. Lisa

      If we use acrylics, will the colors be similar in name? If not, can you post a picture of the colors so we can get similar ones please?

      • Marian Parsons

        Yes, the colors will be the same across different mediums.

    58. Kerri LaFornara

      I just ordered my supplies and hopefully they will be here on time. I can’t draw stick people but absolutely love the opportunity you have given me to give this a try. Thank you so much for doing this and especially during this stressful time for us all.

    59. Amanda

      The number 4 eclipse filbert is sold out. Any other ideas? Excited!

    60. Kathleen

      As I live in Calif I had to order all my supplies, however am now informed they will not arrive until May… so disappointed.

      • Marian Parsons

        Oh no! Where did you order them from?

        • Kathleen

          I ordered everything except the brushes from Amazon. When placed delivery was to be by the end of March, now I’m informed it will be May 1st.

          • Kathleen

            I’m sure this is due to our circumstances in California and the huge demand upon their services at this time. Nonetheless, I intend to watch and am so grateful you are offering this opportunity. Thank you!

      • Tracy

        Not sure where you live in CA yet, University Art in Sacramento may be able to assist you & ship the supplies. They have a marvelous store downtown.

        • Kathleen

          Thank you for the suggestion however they are no longer shipping.

    61. Monika

      I have Winsor & Newton “Artisan water mixable oil colour”. Will that be ok?

      • Marian Parsons

        Yep, that’ll do!

        • Monika

          Thanks! Looking forward to this!

    62. Suzette

      Thank you so much for sharing one of your wonderful talents!
      Can’t wait! ?

    63. Cate

      Will palette knives be needed for mixing colors? So looking forward to this!

      • Marian Parsons

        Unless I’m mixing a large amount, I typically mix with my brush. I do use a palette knife, though for cleaning things up and making piles with any leftover paint. You can definitely get one, but it’s not required.

    64. Brenda

      Ever since you mentioned that you were working on an oil painting tutorial I have been waiting with bated breath!! I bought supplies 5or6 years ago but have been too intimidated to try alone without someone’s assistance. Thank you so much for helping the rest of us take that first step❤️

    65. Jodi Bos

      I cannot thank you enough for offering this class! I am so excited for my supplies to arrive and to learn from someone that I admire so very much. Thank you for sharing the gifts that God has given to you during this a very trying time. The anticipation of this class and learning a new artistic skill is exactly what my creative soul needed!

    66. Rosalina

      This is awesome. What time?

    67. Monika

      Can I use W&N ‘phthalo green (blue shade)’ and W&N ‘yellow ochre’ Instead of ‘ultramarine blue green shade’ and ‘yellow ochre pale’ respectively? I have the other colours.

      • Miss Mustard Seed

        The yellow ochre will be fine, but phthalo green is a very strong green and won’t be a good replacement for blue. Do you have any sort of blue already? If so, that’ll do!

        • Monika

          Thanks! I now have W&N In French ultramarine (because I only have the artisan water mixable oil type of paint). I’m hoping this is ok…

          • Marian Parsons

            Yes, that will be perfect!

            • Monika

              Thank you very much! I am looking forward to this

    68. Mary

      Hi, I just order the paints and cleaners. I already had the easel. It came with 4 brushes, one – 1/4″ round, one – 1/4″ flat, one 1/2″ flat. It this enough to get me started? Can’t wait for your class!! Please tell me the time in EST.

    69. monique

      Thank you! I don’t have the exact colors but will give it a go..So nice of you.

    70. Suzanne

      This is so generous of you. I’m gathering all my stuff and can hardly wait to paint with you. Thank you!

    71. Kerri LaFornara

      Oh Dear. I was just notified by Amazon that half my order now won’t arrive until April 18th. I was so hoping to be able to join you April 3 . We are on a stay at home order so I can’t go try and find the supplies around the DFW area. I will try and tune in anyway.

    72. Sandy Raymond

      I’ve been wanting to try to paint . I’ve been pinning tons of stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to join. I’ll need to order supplies and it takes longer for me to get them (even from Amazon-I’m at the top of a mountain).

    73. Susan

      Thank you for being so giving. Looking forward to your instructions.

    74. Lyndall

      I’m so looking forward to this that I am going to be setting my alarm for 5am to participate. Not sure what I’ll be painting in the wee hours of Saturday morning while it is still dark but we shall see. Any chance for a 4pm session (your time) in the future, so I (and I assume others in AEST (+15)) can paint during day light hours?

    75. Angela

      Hi Marian,

      I am in Ottawa, Canada and can’t seem to find Yellow Ochre Pale only yellow ochre and I have Light yellow cadmium can I use that instead of Cadmium yellow?

      Very excited, thank you for doing this.

      • Russ

        Kings Art & Frame near Sudbury has it and ships!

    76. Russ

      This is great, I’m in! I was only able to get Winsor Blue (Green Shade) vs Ultramarine, anything I need to look out for?


      • Marian Parsons

        That will be fine!

    77. Jaime

      This is so wonderful! I’m going to see if locals have the supply to get sooner. PLEASE, think of doing another one using the picture from your ‘Creative Retreat’ post of the beach and ocean, it is so calming.

    78. Lynds

      Will there be a way to save your course to replay at a later time I Work in health care and still working full time. Love all that you do!!

      • Marian Parsons

        Yes! It will be recorded and I’ll share it here on the blog and on Instagram.

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