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Oil painting for a young student should begin with the safest and most affordable (but high quality) paints, brushes and materials. Rather than give you a simple shopping list here is a more detailed overview for teaching responsibility and safety to a young student. Here is a list of subjects that all students should know about. (An adult oil paint list is included)

1. Solvent Free Studio
2. Oil Paints, Choosing and Using
3. Good Quality Brushes and how to Clean and Care for Them
4. Painting Surfaces, Posh to Affordable
5. Materials and Studio Maintenance Fee Explained
6. Tuition and Attendance Policy

1. Solvent Free Studio, OIL ONLY

For years now I have been painting without odorless mineral spirits (OMS) or other petroleum- or citrus-based paint thinners or solvents. This is for many reasons, but mainly because I find it unnecessary. Paint thinner is traditionally used for thinning mediums and for using to thin paint for the initial under-painting phase of painting. Paint thinner is also used to clean the brushes after painting.

Solvents irritate the lungs and skin. They irritate throats, eyes and lips and may cause cancer or other health problems. They are not a good material to send down your drain into the public water treatment system. Most oil paints are pigments mixed with a variety of vegetable oils, and these oils dissolve easily with soap and water. These include Linseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Poppy Oil, Safflower Oil, etc. Linseed oil is the best oil in general and forms the strongest and most flexible paint films. These oils are safe to touch and use.

The oil mediums used in the studio include: Cold Pressed or Refined Linseed, Walnut and Poppy Oil.

Avoid the following mediums, so please do not use: Damar Varnish, Liquin, Alkyd Mediums or “Dryers,” Cobalt Dryers, Any Other “Dryers,” Mediums with Petroleum Solvents Added

2. Oil Paints, Choosing and Using

For young students who are still growing will not use paints that include lead, cadmium or cobalt. There is no shortage of information available about the dangers of these metals. It is every parent's responsibility to know this when shopping for anything involving pigment, and this includes more than just paint. However, safe practices are easy to learn and painting with gloves and safe habits keeps artists healthy.

Lead, cadmium and heavy metals are dangerous to growing children because when these metals are in a child’s blood stream they are mistaken by the body for protein and are bound into the bones and skeleton for decades. All organs are susceptible to damage. It should be noted that most young adults are growing their skeletons and ossifying their cartilage until their middle twenties. 

The safest paints to use are “earth tones”, made from a variety of clay found around the world. Many of my “cadmium replacements” are simply laboratory-made synthetic pigments. These include the bright spectral colors that will replace cadmium.

The whites are Titanium, not lead or zinc. Zinc is safe but forms an inferior paint film that becomes brittle in a short time. Titanium will have an alarming new label due to the passing of the Prop 65 consumer labeling bill. Most highly-respected authorities are not at all fearful of titanium. Titanium White is very unlikely to cause any harm in the way an artist is expected to handle it. Titanium White is an adequate paint for a reasonably strong paint film, although inferior in strength or viscosity to lead white.

For young students who have just begun painting we have paints available to use that are non hazardous. As a mature student becomes able to handle paint and know how to keep their hands and clothes clean we use a wider range of paints, with the exception of leads, cobalt and dryers. All students are provided gloves and are taught safe practices for painting and cleaning.

3. Good Quality Brushes and how to Clean and Care for Them

Below is a link for buying Kolibri Brand, Imitation Mongoose Synthetic Brushes. Synthetic brushes have been improving more every year so I recommend Kolibri for the best brushes to buy online by Natural Pigments. Beginners can use about 6 brushes to get started but a well equipped student should have 40 to 100 brushes in a variety of sizes and shape.

How to Clean your Brushes 

When done painting the brushes will be full of wet paint. The hairs will be saturated with paint even down inside the shiny metal part of the brush called the ferrule. Wipe as much paint off with a paper towel. Squeeze with gentle pressure from the ferrule toward the tip, extruding the paint from the ferrule and the hairs.

Be kind to your brushes. They are expensive and you should also be kind to them while you paint with them. Lay your strokes down with some style and grace.

After you have wiped them off dip them in a jar of walnut oil (first choice) or cheap vegetable oil and repeat the wiping process. Then wash the brush with medium-hot water and dish soap or cheap white bar soap. Wear a thick and comfortable rubber glove in the non-dominant hand. Massage the soap and extrude the paint patiently and gently, as to not damage the hairs. Always squeeze from ferrule to tip.

Note. Wash one brush at a time. Do not save time and attempt to wash a hand full of brushes together. It just doesn’t work! You will be disappointed to find later that the paint did not get washed out and your hairs are hardened with dry paint. Take your time and do it right. Also, wash your brushes by the time you go to bed.

When your beautifully cleaned brushes are rinsed, lay them flat with the tips hanging over the edge of a table. You may also reshape the brushes before they dry to keep them in form.

Links for Shopping For Materials

Please read the following carefully, as this will be of benefit to you being a well-equipped artist. Many students share materials in the studio that we buy for common use. We share many things, such as drawing supplies and paint, but personal things like paint brushes and painting surfaces are things students should acquire for their own use.

Here are common things we all share, but you may find very useful to use at home or in your own studio.

Painting Supplies:

Kolibri Brand, Imitation Mongoose Flat Brush, sizes 4, 6, 10, 14, etc.
Kolibri Brand, Imitation Mongoose Filbert Brush, sizes 4, 6, 10, 14, etc.
Oleogel, quantities vary from 50 Ml up.
Impasto Medium, quantities vary from 50 Ml up
Linseed Oil Sampler, is a collection of four different kinds of oil for painting.
Refined Aged Linseed Oil, 16 ounce bottle for oil painting
Walnut Oil, 16 ounce bottle for oil painting

Oil Colors vary endlessly, but my personal choice is Rublev by Natural Pigments. The benefits of Rublev paints are many. Each paint is crafted from a single pigment selected for it's historical and technical value. Natural Pigments also provides excellent customer support and an active "Best Practices" community page on social media. There are ongoing opportunities to join conversations and attend on-line, or in-person workshops pertaining to all matters of choosing the best practices in painting.

My preferences for a Rublev palette include the following paints. However, there are many paints that can be added for additional range.

Rublev Colours Oil Paint

You may consider the Elizabeth Zanzinger Palette.

This would provide you sample of paints to expand to suit your needs.

Basic Recommended Rublev Palette

Blue Black
Roman Black
Ultramarine Blue (Red Shade)
Verona Green Earth
Chromium Oxide Green
Crystal White, Lead White
Lead White #2
French Raw Umber
Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm

Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher
Italian Raw Sienna
Transparent Red Iron Oxide
Chrome Yellow Primrose
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Orange Molybdate
Cadmium Red Light
Alizarin Crimson


4. Painting Surfaces, Posh to Affordable

Painting Surfaces vary widely. The most useful panel to bring to the studio is a rigid panel. Rigid panels have many benefits and come in a variety of surfaces. Whatever material you prefer, good dimensions range from 8 by 10 to 16 by 20 inches. My favorite posh surface is an oil primed aluminum panel by Artefex. More affordable wooden panels are available by SourceTek.

Artefex Rigid Artist Panels

SourceTek, Oil Primed Linen on Wooden Panels, Fine Weave

Young Student's Palette

For parents interested in buying an affordable set of oil paints that is non hazardous here is a local store and palette list.

Your Local Independent Art Supply Store

Lenz Arts

(831) 423-1935
142 River St,
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 

Materials & Procedures

Oil Paints:

Ivory Black
Ultramarine Blue Manganese Violet
Dioxazine Purple
Provence Violet Bluish by Williamsburg 
King's Blue Dark or Light 
Sap Green
Permanent Green Light
Titanium White, NOT ZINC or LEAD 
Raw Umber
Burnt Umber
Yellow Ocher
Raw Sienna
Transparent Iron Oxide
Hansa Yellow Light or Medium
Mono Orange

-OR-
Permanent Orange Pyrol,  Orange Permanent Orange
Perlene Red
-OR-
Pyrol Red
Permanent Red Quinacridon
Red Alizarin Permanent 

Refined Linseed Oil, 8oz bottle 

5. Materials and Studio Maintenance Fee Explained

Studio Materials and Maintenance FeeRegistered students may be asked for a periodic $48 Studio Materials and Maintenance Fee. The fee may last a student from one to two months depending on the student's work in progress. The contribution pays for shared items we all need. Although these funds help support the collective program, students will be encouraged to acquire personal materials such as brushes or painting surfaces befitting a well equipped dedicated Artist. Thank you for keeping the studio well stocked for the benefit of everyone.

Regular registered students commit to supporting the studio program by sharing the expenses of stocking and maintaining the studio. This patronage helps us share art supplies as well as many general items we all need. This ranges from drawing and painting materials to hardware, cleaning supplies, subject matter, furnishing and office supplies. We travel to shop for and collect many things that are best bought in bulk or for special needs.

What does your contribution support? We regularly need the following;Graphite pencils, charcoal pencils, chalk pencils, vine charcoal, pastels, kneaded erasers, retractable erasers, retractable eraser replacements, Olfa Japan sharpeners, drawing board clips, hundreds of sheets of various specialty drawing papers, pastel papers, masking tape, paper towels, still life fruit and subjects, antiques, draperies and fabrics, high quality plaster casts, utility lights, light bulbs, tubes of oil paint, linseed oil, walnut oil, poppy seed oil, brushes, palette knives, mediums, Duralar brand Mylar for painting, acrylic gesso, workable fixatif, palettes, tracing paper, clamps, electrical cords, copy paper, cotton balls, Q-tips, tissues, Teacher Pro electric pencil sharpeners four times per year, plastic cups, paper bowls, sand papers, flowers and produce, etc.

6. Tuition and Attendance Policy

Atelier Classes offer generous amounts of studio time. We look for dedicated students who are ready to practice regularly to develop skills over a long span of time. After School Art Studio Students gain skills and build portfolios as they prepare for a future education or career in Art. Many students have begun in middle school, continued in high school and entered college successfully. Adult students also benefit from setting goals for themselves that need time to manifest.

Thank you for committing to a monthly schedule. The support is greatly appreciated and ensures the program may continue to serve the collective student body.

Tuition for monthly classes is non refundable and non transferable.Monthly classes are not prorated.Missed attendance does not carry over into the following month for a discount. Missed attendance can be made up for within the month you are registered. Make Ups can be had during other class periods or on our occasional dedicated Make Up Days.