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Epic Fail studio tour and nervous breakdown episode #3 Oil painting tutorial – How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

I woke up this morning feeling so overwhelmed by this series and by the entire studio makeover, because I just realized that I am forcing things when it comes to my brand and my colour scheme and all the other stuff when it comes to an art business. And I lost sight of what is actually the most important, which is the art.

And I constantly felt forced to create these paintings that match my brand colours and I chose these particular brand colours because I wasnt sure that the world would accept me for who I am which is this dark chick who likes to wear black and has a lot of tattoos.

And so I ended up creating this marshmallow monster on my instagram and on you tube, if you would have a look at my recent thumbnails and also in some of my videos I would wear wigs in order to come across as more presentable for you guys. And while I still think the colours I chose are pretty and everything, it’s just not me and I can’t keep forcing myself to create works in this colour palette, because you’re going to end up picking up that resistance in my work, which means that the work isn’t going to be that great.

Have a look at last week’s video as an example. I think you could clearly see there that based on that painting I am not naturally inclined to using a pastel colour palette.

And I have heard so many times before that it is so important to build your brand when it comes to your art and I totally agree with that, because you want to attract a tribe that actually likes all of your work or at least the feeling of your work, because in this way, you’ll end up attracting people who actually look forward to your next painting, instead of just having people see one of your paintings, like it but then move on with their lives and forget about you.

I also feel like it’s way too early in my art career to be thinking that i cannot change things. I just became a full time artist about 7 months ago and I am of course going to have to find my own way when it comes to my art style and everything. The main reason why I create these art blogs in between my painting tutorials is also to share my journey as an artist with you guys and to also help you along the way when it comes to your own art.

And if you’re in a position where you don’t know your artist style or don’t know the direction that you want to go in with your art, I think that’s totally fine and I think you should remember that it is a journey at the end of the day. I think that is one of the reasons why art is so special because it constantly calls you to the moment and it can never be rushed and it has no time frame or time limit. That is also why it is so valuable in my opinion. It’s more than just a picture. But that is a whole other video.

I am very excited about it because as soon as I asked wait.. what the hell are you doing? This isn’t you… I started feeling so relieved and immediately less stressed about everything.

Especially because my art promotes being yourself and not comparing yourself to other stuff you see on social media, whether it’s models or other people’s art or whatever. Funny enough, I originally got inspired to do this when I saw my own overwhelm when I was looking at other artists’ work and perfect hair and perfect everything. I feel that I want to be true to this message, I am definitely going to have to do this in my own unique way.

So with that all being said, let’s dive into an oil painting tutorial! I’m going to show you

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

You will need some quinacridone red, burnt sienna, burnt umber, yellow ochre, sap green, white and orange oil paint.

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

To start with, you’ll mix your base colour, which you will constantly work from. For the base colour I used quinacridone red, yellow ochre, orange and white.

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

Once you’re done mixing the base layer, you can start focusing on small areas at a time and try and see what other undertones that specific area has.

As you can see here, I have already added the first layer, which is the same as what I’m going to be doing in the second layer. Seeing that it was a gold canvas that I worked from, the surface was a bit more smooth than what I am used to so the paint turnt out a bit patchy. But this is totally fine, seeing that we are now going to smooth things out in this second layer of paint.

If you’re starting out with your portrait, I would like to recommend that you do the same as I did here, where you blot out the main areas of light and shadow in the first layer, because it will just make it way easier to focus on adding more detail in the second layer.

A good idea is to do a wash in burnt sienna where you mix some turpentine with your burnt sienna and just focus on the light and dark tones by painting everything in burnt sienna first. The reason why we choose burnt sienna with this is because it is a translucent kind of paint which means that it lets a lot of light through behind the paint, which is great, because if you’re going to be working in layers, it will give your painting that inner glow.

I just decided to make use of a mixture of burnt sienna and the base colour which I have mixed for the first layer because honestly, I was too damn excited to get started on this gold canvas and also it brings the same kind of warmth that burnt sienna would bring. And this turnt out great by the way. I highly recommend that you try this canvas by Frederix out. It really creates a mood for your painting and brings so much warmth to it, which is great for when you’re painting skin.

Alternatively you can also paint your canvas with gold paint. For this you can use acrylic paint or a wash of oil paint, since you can paint over acrylic paint with oil paint.

Just remember that with your first layer, you’ll want to add a bit more turpentine to your paint mixture, to keep taking the fat over lean method into consideration. And this just means that with every layer of oil paint you add to your painting, the more oil you add. Whether it is applying thicker paint or adding a bit more linseed oil instead of turpentine to your mixture as you go is up to you. You can subscribe to my you tube channel, because I am planning on making a detailed video on the fat over lean method in the near future.

When you reach the second layer of the painting, you can start focusing on where you see more pink tones and where you see more green tones. In other areas it might even be a bit more blue, so you can then just add a touch of the undertone colour to your base mixture.

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

Another thing to take into consideration is your warm and cold shadows. For your deeper and heavier shadows you can make use of burnt umber, whereas for your lighter shadows you can use burnt sienna.

And don’t worry if your painting ends up looking a bit too bland. This just means that you need to add some more of the undertones. You can always let it dry and add more of these tones with your base mixture afterwards.

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

One of the most important things when it comes to painting skin in my opinion is to make sure that your reference isn’t airbrushed or photoshopped. If you can take the picture yourself this is even better. The reason why I say this is that when we look at a photoshopped image, most of the time all those nice colours are taken out and you’re left with a doll like image which won’t help you paint a face realistically. You are going to have way less tones to work with and your image will turn out bland.

Here I am retaking a picture of my hand, because in the reference image, the hand is cut off.

How to paint skin in oil paint for beginners

This is how far I have come with my painting at this point. I have painted the second layer of the face and the first layer everywhere else. You also want to make sure that after painting your first layer, you really let it dry for a good couple of days before working on it again, because this will ensure that you can blend smoothly and that your skin doesn’t turn out patchy.

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How to paint an eye in oil paint

For beginners

We are so intrigued with painting eyes because they can tell us so much about a person. That is why it is so important to make sure that they are depicted in a striking way. If you want the portrait that you’re painting to convey a certain emotion, then perhaps a good idea would be to have a look at the difference between angry eyes, sad eyes, happy eyes, etc. before beginning your painting. Have a look at the different shapes, wrinkle lines, pupil sizes, etc.

This will add character to your painting and it will help to tell a story through your painting.

But, before we can paint eyes with emotion and character, we need to get the basics down of painting an eye first.

I find that in order to learn to paint something properly, you need to use a reference. I added the reference image below in case you want to use the same reference image I used.

For this painting tutorial you will need:

  • Oil paint: different shades of browns, blues, greens, naples yellow, white and black.
  • Paintbrushes – small and medium sizes – Personally, I prefer flat brushes and a small round brush for the details.
  • Turpentine
  • Canvas
  • Cloth to wipe your brushes with

Start off by blocking out all your dark, medium and light tones. We do this because it creates a map for us to follow on our second layer and we can also correct some mistakes we made when we were drawing the eye.

Burnt Sienna is a good colour to use for this first layer, because its a translucent colour which means that it lets through a lot of light through the painting layer, which illuminates the painting from the inside. If you don’t have burnt sienna, you can use any other brown.

Leave this to dry overnight.

*If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step, however, I would not recommend it.

Paint the skin tones around the eye. This step is important because we don’t want it to look as if the eye is floating or hovering in front of the face and this can happen if we don’t do the shading correctly. Don’t forget to add the eye lid as well.

Our skin have so many different colours in them. If you look closely at your reference image, you can see that there are some areas that are yellow, others more blue and green and so on. In order to make these colours a bit more subtle, mix them with a bit of flesh tint.

If you do not have already mixed flesh tint, you can use orange, white and pink for this. Depending on the shade of the skin tone you’d like, you can then gradually add some burnt sienna and burnt umber to the mixture. It’s a good idea to use both of these paints to darken the skin tone, seeing that burnt umber by itself is a cold brown, comparing to burnt sienna which is a lot warmer.

Next we can get started with the whites of the eyes. A lot of people think that the whites of the eyes are just plain white, however, there are so many other subtle colours in there. It is important for us to include these colours, because it helps to describe the shape of the eye more.

There will almost always be a blueish shade on the sides and it will gradually go lighter in the middle area of the eye.

In this area you want to make sure that you add a shadow. I used sky blue and a bit of burnt umber for this.

Another important part is the inner tear duct. You want to make sure that you dont make this too pink, so mix a bit of flesh tint with pink and burnt umber for this area. for the darker shades on the inner tear duct, you can mix a bit of pink and burnt umber, without adding the flesh tint.

Also remember to include the inner lid here on the bottom lid of the eye. You can make this slightly lighter than the face.

Here comes the fun part! Painting the Iris. Start off by outlining the iris with the darkest colour you are planning on using for the eye. By studying your reference, also have a look at any other dark spots you see there and fill them in too. I decided to use ultramarine blue for this. In order to make the ultramarine blue even darker in some areas, I mixed some burnt umber with it.

You can then add your medium tones. I decided to use cobalt teal for this step. Here you can also check to see if there are any light spots in the eye. For these you can add a bit of white with the colour you are using for this step.

Do not paint the white spots where the light is reflecting on the eye yet.

Once you’ve added the dark, medium and light tones in the previous steps, you can now fill in the light spots with some white. It is very important to add these, because they bring life to the eye.

Next you can add an outline at the top of the eye. This will serve as a shadow for the eyelashes.

You can also add the pupil with black. Even though it seems that way, your pupil isn’t just black everywhere either. On the left hand side here (see the picture below), you’ll see that it’s a bit grey. I did this by just blending some of the white in that light spot into the black of the eye.

To make the pupil appear more realistic, soften the outline on of the pupil by running over the edge with a soft dry brush. Blend around the pupil in this direction:

The eyebrows play an important part when it comes to the eye, because it frames the eye. To paint the eyebrows, use the smallest brush you have and paint it hair-by-hair. Since the entire painting is wet, I found it helpful to turn my canvas upside down to do this step.

Have a look at your reference to see in what direction the hair is going.

Now for the part we all fear: the eyelashes! Make sure that your lines for the eyelashes start off thick and taper out like the lines above. To do this, you’ll have to add more pressure to your brush when you start from the eye and lift your brush upward as you drag the line up.

Make sure that your hand is steady when you do this, since it is very difficult to do when your hand is just in the air. I usually balance my entire hand on my pinky when I paint thin or long lines:

To make sure your eyelashes look natural, have some of them go in different directions. As you can see in the picture above, some of my eyelashes go in front of the eye!

When adding the bottom lashes, apply the same technique, but use a lighter grey for them instead of pitch black. The bottom lashes will also be significantly less than the upper lashes.

Thanks for following this tutorial, if you have any questions, feel free join the Gypsy Tribe by signing up to my newsletter! I’ll then send you an email address by which you can contact me in order to ask me any questions regarding your paintings.

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How to paint water drops in oil paint

for beginners

Reference image used in this video

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Materials used: 

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How to Paint a Sea Sunset in Oil Paint

For Beginners

Here is the reference which I have used in this tutorial. I highly recommend that you print this out in order to work from it while you paint.

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Material list:

Cloud Painting Tutorial:…

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Painting an Ice Cream with Oil Paint and Palette Knives for Beginners

For beginners


  • Brushes – Below are the brushes I used. I used the large flat brushes to blend the different blues on the background together.
  • Oil Paint – If you are looking to buy an oil paint set, I would recommend getting a Daler Rowney set. This brand is my favourite brand to use.
  • Palette Knife
  • Turpentine – You don’t have to use expensive virgin turpentine. I usually just buy a 5 litre can at the hardware store. The reason why artists use virgin turpentine is because it makes the colours appear brighter, but the difference is so subtle that it isn’t really worth it. Once you are done with painting, put a lid on your turpentine (for safety reasons). You can then use it a second time since the pigments all sink to the bottom of the jar.
  • Acrylic Paint – Daler Rowney System 3 paints are highly recommended.
  • Tissue paper – I prefer using tissue paper over a towel. I find a towel gets dirty too quickly when working with a palette knife. Oil paint is also difficult to wash out (and you can’t put it in the washing machine – I did this once and my clothes smelt of turpentine for weeks after that).
  • Canvas – I used a 35×35 cm canvas
  • Pencil and eraser for planning
  • Paint Palettes – You will need two, one for acrylic paint and one for oil paint. You don’t need to buy pricey palettes if you don’t have one. Instead, you can use an old tray or plate. One trick I like to use in order to make the cleaning process a bit easier is to cover the entire tray in cling wrap. Once you’re done with your painting, you only need to cut the cling wrap off and your tray is ready to use next time you paint.

Draw your ice cream

Start off by making a rough sketch of your ice cream. Here I used a simple HB pencil, but I would suggest that you rather start your planning with coloured pencils, since this is easier to cover with paint than an HB pencil. For this painting, though, It does not really matter, since we will be applying thick paint later on.

Block out the Three Main Tones

Even though we are creating an oil painting, I find that it is better to start any oil painting with a layer of acrylic paint first. I do this, because acrylic paint dries much faster than oil paint, so you can start painting your second layer within minutes.

Remember, oil paint can go on top of acrylic paint, but we can never add acrylic paint on top of oil paint, because the paint will then start to peel of the canvas.

As you can see here, there is very little detail painted and the painting looks a bit dull. This is ok, since this step is just to map out all the dark, medium and light tones for yourself to make it easier later.

To do this, look for the darkest tone first. Once you’ve covered the darkest tone, go on to the lightest and paint them white. It will then be easier to fill in the blank spaces on your ice cream with a medium tone.

You can use a brush to do this, since you have more control over the brush than the palette knives.

Paint your background with Acrylic Paint

Choose how you would like for your background to look. Since we are using acrylic, you can experiment a little and easily change it or adjust it within minutes after it dries. I decided to go for a very smooth and plain background. I did this because the contrast between the rough palette knife paint on the ice cream and the smooth background will make the ice cream stand out more.

Start painting the background in Oil

Once your first layer of paint is completely dry, it is time to start painting in oil! You’ll find that this second layer of paint will really make the colour a lot more vibrant.

I started off by giving the background a second layer with oil paint. So you’ll see here that I did not mind going a bit over the edges of the ice cream, since it will be easy to cover later. My main focus here was just to get the gradient background looking as smooth as possible.

You will find that the oil paint will be a lot easier to work with when it comes to blending, since you can really take your time with this medium.

Whip out your palette knife!

You can now start by painting the ice cream with your palette knife and oil paint. Oil paint is the best medium for this, since the consistency of the paint is nice and thick so it is easier to work with than acrylic in this case. But you can add other mediums to acrylic to achieve this if you do not want to work with oil paint.

Remember that it is important to enjoy the process and to not have a very specific image in your head for the end product. Palette knife paintings also tend to look a lot better when you don’t try to control it too much, since your playfulness will translate through the paint. In other words, if you try to control it too much and get stressed out about what it looks like, it will show in the painting.

How to start

You can start off with your knife the same way you started the painting; by blotting out the dark, medium and light tones.

The Palette Knife angle

The key thing you need to remember about palette knife painting is that the angle of your knife makes a big difference in the outcome of the mark on your painting.

Have a look at how I am applying the paint here. I am only adding paint on the tip of the knife since i want to make a smaller stroke for a highlight. I am also holding the knife at an angle, leaning slightly to the right and forward (with the back of the knife upward and the tip on the canvas)

how hard you should you press on the canvas with your palette knife

If you really want to add a lot of thick paint (this is also called impasto painting) to your canvas, it is important not to press on your canvas too hard, since this will make the paint spread out too much.

You can see it as that you are sculpting with the paint, since you don’t want it to be the same thickness everywhere. Perhaps you could try to add thicker paint to the lightest areas of your painting. This way, there will be a slight shadow casted by the paint on your darker areas, since it doesn’t stick out as much.

Use your paint brushes for the smaller areas

Just because you are creating a painting with a palette knife, doesn’t mean you can’t use a brush every now and then, especially in those smaller areas, like the shadow at the top of the ice cream cone.

You can then continue to work over this in some areas with a palette knife.

Don’t be afraid to scratch into your painting with your knife for texture

Use a towel or tissues to wipe all the paint off your palette knife before doing this. As you can see here, I scratched some lines and wrote on the cone with the palette knife.

Tie all your strokes together

Before doing this, clean your knife with some tissue. You can then make larger swoops over some areas you painted, going in the direction of the lines your ice cream is creating. This will slightly mix the paint in some areas and give you some more medium tones.

You then need to continue on top of this with some more bold palette knife strokes which you won’t blend in.

Have a look here at the medium tones created on the area circled here.

Rounding off

Finish off your painting by adding the very lightest areas of your ice cream.

Aaaand you’re done!

I really hope enjoyed painting with palette knifes!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the Six Figure Mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting an ice cream in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

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