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Feb 17

Supplies for the artist new to oil paint

Posted on February 17, 2016 at 9:04 AM by Anastasia Ehlers

021716_Oil_ Painting_fullWhen new artists are looking for tools, Eugene Rec painting instructor Jennifer Bernatz (on the left, with student Susan Clark) says, “Go cheap.”

She’s not kidding, either. “The most expensive brush I have was $8, and I cried over that,” she says. “For palettes, use waxy-bottom paper plates. Keep the cost down.

For her classes - ranging from Oil Painting to Color Mixing for Artists to Impressionist Paintings - Jennifer, who has been teaching art for three decades, says that the most expensive purchase is definitely the oil paint itself, which can run around $18 a tube.

But get this: Oil paint can now be water-soluble. That’s right. Oil paint, able to be thinned with water, so that means, Jennifer says, that “the cleanup is fantastic. No longer do you have to use an old smelly turpentine rag to clean.”

Luckily, even if tubes of oil paint aren’t cheap, canvas is. “They’re pretreated and they’re really cheap,” she says. “I would recommend just going and buying them at Michael’s or whatever.”

Jennifer’s classes are super popular and have a waiting list at Petersen Barn Community Center - so she’s added one at Sheldon Community Center, a Portrait Painting session starting March 2. 

Her portrait painting classes are not your usual portrait classes. No, she works in what she called “old Italian Masters style,” which means the students start with a gray background and add a series of paint glazes, “like the Mona Lisa,” Bernatz says. “It’s a longer process, but it’s incredible, beautiful painting.”

One not-quite-as-long process is the palette knife painting. “That’s a fun one,” she says. “We usually put out a painting within four hours, or one every two weeks.” That means students end up with four paintings after an 8-week session.
Jennifer has taught at community colleges and in private classes, but now that she’s settled in in Oregon, she’s happy to be working with Eugene Rec. “I’m not moving anymore!” she says. “This is a really fun thing to do. A lot of people retire and get bored and look around for something to do, and painting is really fun.”

Here's a handy checklist of supplies if you're joining a class or experimenting on your own with oil paints:

  • Inexpensive small, medium and large brushes
  • Palette knife
  • Palette (or wax-finish paper plates!)
  • Pre-treated canvas
  • Paint: Try water-soluble (sometimes called water-miscable) oil paints for easy cleanup. A good starter kit of colors includes Titanium White, Ivory Black, Cadmium Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Cadmium Yellow Light and Cadmium Yellow.
  • Two containers for water
  • Dish soap for cleaning brushes
Both Jennifer and art instructor Sarah Strand offer many classes at several different locations. Visit to check availability and find one that works for you! 


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