Oil Painting Instructions: Recommended Books and Videos

Oil painting instructions from a live teacher in a class is, or course, one of the best ways to improve your painting skills, but it's not the only one. In addition, you will find it helpful to educate yourself through reading books, attending lectures, going to museums, and watching videos.

By expanding your horizon a bit and educating yourself, you can get the best return for the time and money you invest in oil painting lessons and workshops.

Personally, I have benefited from reading books, watching videos on oil painting instructions, attending workshops, and taking lessons. I have also learned from attending demos and lectures—and even from teaching my own students. Through all these things—the trial and error, the money and time spent—I have learned what works for me and what does not.

Below is a very short list of books and other resources on oil painting instructions that I think are essential. I don't want to waste your time by listing 100 books on oil painting instructions.

I hope this list will help you save time and energy looking for books and enable you to spend more time painting.





Books that provide the fundamental language of oil painting



Alla Prima Richard Smith Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid
A must read for learning direct painting. One of the standard for the classical art education. Richard Schmid is a renowned American artist known for his direct painting approach and masterly brush strokes that are reminiscent of John Singer Sargent's brushstrokes.

He has compiled all his oil painting wisdom into a beautifully written and illustrated book. It's packed with his insights into the alla prima oil painting instructions.

He also shows his color palette and provides a systematic way to mix the colors you want. He also has his own website which you can access to get more details on his paintings, materials, etc.

The book comes in hard cover and soft cover formats. The prices fluctuates hugely among booksellers, so compare the prices carefully before you buy it. Get a copy for yourself or give one to your artist friends. Schmid has recorded a series of video demos you can view, which is a much cheaper alternative for seeing him at work than attending his workshops.

Kevin Macpherson "Fill Your Painting With Light And Color"
By Kevin Macpherson
This is one of the best books for landscape oil painting instructions, and every pleine aire painter should own one.

Kevin Macpherson is one of the top plein aire painters in the U.S, and in this book he breaks down the landscape oil painting process with such clarity that suddenly it all seems simple. He is one of the painters known for using a limited 3-color palette.

I've learned a lot more from his books and than I have from any of the expensive pleine aire workshops by other artists that I have attended. Before you take a landscape oil painting class or attend a workshop, read the book and watch the video to see how Macpherson executes his famous pleine aire paintings. I am positive it will takes years off your learning curve in plein aire painting.

Blue and Yellow don't Make Green-Michael Wilcox "Blue And Yellow Don't Make Green"
By Michael Wilcox
The only book you need on identifying color bias and learning how and what to mix to get the colors you want. It gives you a great explanation of exactly how colors work when mixed and then takes you to a deeper level in terms of knowing how to work with color. Michael Wilcox demystifies color theory and debunks some of the common misconceptions about color mixing. After reading his book , I had a real “ah ha” moment. I finally understood why I was having so much trouble mixing the colors I wanted. Read it, and you will understand too. To extend your understanding of color further,



Painting Masterpieces- Mark Churchill Painting Masterpieces: Recreating 30 Works by Famous Artists By Mark Churchill Why would I recommend this book? Because I believe in the value of copying great paintings and learning from them! No doubt about it; this is one of the most effective ways to learn the art of drawing and painting.

In this book, Mark Churchill has packed lessons copying from 30 famous oil paintings. It explains how to choose the palette, paints, and brushes.

You really can improve your own techniques by copying the works of great masters. Now you can do it at home—no need to travel to a museum (though that's not a bad thing to do, either). The works covered include paintings from the Renaissance to the present day. They cover a wide range of approaches, styles, and subject matter, which encourages versatility.

The step by step pictures and instructions show every stage of the process as each painting is replicated. It deepens your understanding of each master's palette, their techniques, and composition. This book is a gem of both technical instruction and art history education!

Steve Allrich's book for oil painting students "Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner: Basic Lessons in Becoming a Good Painter"
By Steve Allrich
Not the typical 'how to' oil panting book, this book is exactly what its title suggests, and it delivers. While it is focused on the “serious beginner,” however, it can also benefit artists at all levels. Allrich writes eloquently about how and why he paints his paintings the way he does. You have the freedom to decide whether his way is good for you to emulate or you can modify it. The book also does a good job of explaining oil techniques.




My Find On Videos for oil painting instructions

..............Rent it and Bring your Instructor to Your Home

If you are a visual learner(like most of the artists out there!), then I'd recommend you try watching art instruction videos and DVDs. You can pick up a lot by watching the videos.

Imagine that you are going to a demo watching a painting done.

To me, it is easier to watch a favorite artist's demo on video than having to travel physically to a workshop. Not only that, with a video I can repeat the video at will or stop to take notes at any point whereas workshops have a much faster pace.

Videos will save you money, too, when the artists on the videos are nationally known, far from you, and command a high price for their workshops!

What could be better than learning from great contemporary oil painters in the comfort of your home, and saving you money at the same time?


Here you will find a wide array of oil painting instruction DVD's for rent. Bring your instructor home for a small fraction of the money you'd pay to attend an expensive workshops or demo.

I started using their service last year. I was skeptical at first, because I have had unpleasant experiences with other oil painting instruction tape services, but I have become one of their many happy customers. They have a rich collection of instructional DVDs by prominent artists/teachers such as Daniel Greene, Kevin Macpherson, and Burton Silverman.

You rent them for one week at a time. Deliveries are prompt, the service is professional. The convenience and value you get for your dollar is unbeatable!




So far you should have plenty to keep you busy for a while!

From time to time I will post information on more essential resources for your oil painting education.

In the meantime, keep your “art antenna” out and sign up for the best painting classes you can possibly afford.

Happy oil painting!

Desire to take your oil painting skills to a higher level by studying classical oil painting? Click the image below.



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