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Introduction to Oil Painting

Whether you're an art enthusiast eager to explore a new medium or a complete novice looking to embark on a creative journey, this course will provide you with a solid foundation in the techniques, tools, and principles of oil painting. You’ll also get the chance to engage in rich discussions with students from all over the world about your favorite artists and compositions.

The course begins with an exploration of the unique properties of oil paint, its history, and its advantages as a medium. You'll learn about different types of brushes, paints, and surfaces commonly used in oil painting. You'll then discover how to mix colors effectively and apply the basic rules of composition to your first paintings. 

To strengthen your ability to see and mix colors, you'll create a painting with at least six tints of blue and white. To learn how complementary colors add vibrancy to your composition, you'll paint a canvas using red and green. You'll explore tools, such as viewfinders and thumbnails, to help you in the creative process, along with techniques for determining light sources. You'll then apply all that you have learned by setting, lighting, composing, and painting a still life. 

Throughout this hands-on course, you will be guided step-by-step by an experienced instructor, allowing you to gain confidence, develop essential skills at a pace that works for you, and pave the way for further exploration and growth as an oil painter. 

What you will learn:

✔ Mix oil paints and prepare a canvas for painting         
✔ Discuss the history, advantages, and examples of oil painting         
✔ Apply the five basic rules of composition to your paintings         
✔ Create a viewfinder for any canvas that you will paint         
✔ Draw thumbnail sketches to help you visualize your paintings         
✔ Determine or set the light source for maximum impact on and consistency with your compositions         
✔ Set, light, compose, and paint a still life

Join our visual arts classes online and take your skills to the next level.

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What you need to participate:

  • Computer or mobile device with Internet. Internet speed must be at least 1.5Mbps download and 800Kbps upload. For students using a mobile device, download the Canvas mobile app and select “Interlochen Online” as your school.
  • Oil paint in 37ml tubes:
    • Titanium White
    • Cadmium Yellow Hue
    • Lemon Yellow
    • Cadmium Red Hue
    • Alizarin Crimson
    • Ultramarine Blue
    • Cerulean Blue Hue
    • Raw Umber
    • Burnt Umber
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Dioxazine Purple
    • Magenta
  • Other supplies:
    • Burnt Sienna acrylic paint, 4 oz tube
    • Palette knife (flexible metal, blade about 2.25" long)
    • Palette paper, 9" x 12" pad
    • Linseed oil
    • 6 brushes: a selection of flat, round, and filbert bristle brushes in small and medium sizes
    • 3 canvases, 9”x 12”
    • 1 canvas board, 9" x 12"
    • Paper towels
    • Dawn dish soap
    • Black extra fine Sharpie marker
    • Smock, old T-shirt, or apron
    • Glass jar to stand brushes up while painting and drying them
    • Table or stand-up easel
    • Optional: Pliers for difficult-to-open paint caps

How the course works:

Interlochen Online courses are designed to be inspiring and flexible with weekly learning units that combine video segments and guided instruction that you can complete on your own schedule during the week. You will interact regularly with your teacher and peers inside the learning environment. 

You can also participate in an optional weekly hour-long video class meeting, where you can learn from the teacher and interact with your classmates in real-time. At the beginning of the course, you will complete a survey indicating your preferred times for the class meeting. The teacher will make every best effort to identify a meeting time that works for everyone. The teacher will also post recordings of the meetings and you can view them when it is convenient. 

The goal is that you walk away not only with practical skills and friendships but that you are inspired and motivated to pursue your art and realize your potential.

Upcoming Course Dates

April 1 - 26, 2024 | Teen and adult sections

May 6 - 31, 2024 | Teen and adult sections




Teens: Grades 7-12

Adult Learners: 18+

Future Sessions

Academic Calendar

Meet the Faculty

Jeannette Pomeroy

Instructor of Visual Arts

Questions? Speak with an Advisor.


Phone: 231.276.5990 

You can also schedule an appointment.

Access Free Resources from Interlochen Online

Experience Interlochen Online with free guides that teach you practical skills in the arts.

The first few pages of the Introduction to Oil Painting study guide.
Complete this form to receive this exclusive guide on oil painting from Interlochen Online.
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