View Full Version : Art student new to oils - question about starter kit

12-17-2001, 03:59 PM
Hello all. I was hoping to solicit some advice from you veteran oil painters regarding an Oil Painting starter kit that Iím considering purchasing. Iíve researched a lot on this forum and a variety of other places and think what Iíve found is a good deal, but would like to get some input.

Iím starting an oil painting class this semester and while Iím fairly knowledgeable about Acrylics, I have yet to work in oils. After searching around Iíve found what sounds like a great deal at ASW.

Itís basically a set with a metal briefcase-style carrying case that has fourteen 37ml. Tubes of Sennelier oils (from their artist line rather than student line), a small bottle of turpentine, 3 ďqualityĒ brushes, a palette, painting knife, charcoals, and a painting cup. The site claims that it retails for $200.00, and they have it on sale for $100. The only drawback I see is that the Cadmiums and Cerulean Blue are hues, but Iím not really worried about that since Iíll just be replacing them with true pigments as I use them up in class.

I havenít heard a great deal regarding Sennelier oils here, but what I have heard is good, with most people putting them in the same class as Old Holland, Blockx and Rembrandt. At any rate I donít think Iíd be able to find such a good starter set anywhere else for this price. I was going to tack on a larger tube of white and probably pick up a couple of more brushes at a local art supply store as well.

I guess my question is: does this sound like a good deal for a first-year art student moving into oils who has only about $100-$150 to spend on supplies (minus canvas of course) or would I do better price/quality wise if I bought all this piecemeal? I really want to stay away from student-grade oils, and I really like the idea of getting a metal carrying case with this deal since Iíll be going back and forth to school, but having said that, I also donít want to spend what, for me, amounts to a lot of cash on something that isnít worth it.

Anyway, thanks in advance for all opinions. Thanks as well for providing a place where a budding artist can go to get opinionsÖthis website has been tremendously helpful to me.

12-17-2001, 07:13 PM
Really don't know anything about Sennelier oils but I looked in my catalogs to see what was being offered and it sounds like a good price. If you bought everything separately no doubt you would pay much more. You will probably want to buy some medium as well and it depends on what "quality" the brushes are, as well as size and style that you will need. If you've been working in acrylics, you probably already have charcoal. We've talked quite a bit about oil paints in previous forums and you might want to do a search and see if anything was said about Sennelier - don't recall any discussion about it.

12-17-2001, 08:20 PM
Have you checked with your instructor yet? They often have deals prearranged with exactly the materials you will need for the class. With limited funds, you want to stretch your dollars as much as you can. Though the metal box may be nice, you could get by with a canvas bag. BTW I don't see the Sennelier oil set you mention in the ASW catalog.

Also, I don't think you need 14 colors to begin with; it will only make your learning more difficult. I'd get 6 or 8 and put the savings into more brushes. Often you can find 6/8 starter sets of paint only, (be sure to get a large 150 ml tube of white), and 4/6 brush sets too. That combo might give you a more useful set.

12-17-2001, 09:36 PM
The item in question is on their sale items website at http://www.aswsale.com/sendeloilset.html I agree about using the limited color palette, and had considered that it may be too many colors (incidentally, I'm also taking a color theory class this semester)

12-18-2001, 03:13 PM
I agree that you should check with the instructor - they might know a deal or have a suggestion on the colours in your palette. The case is nice but unnecessary. After you purchase other brushes (the ones in the case look small, you may want to purchase a size 10 or 12 to experiment with too), a larger bottle of turpentine, some medium, etc. it may not all fit in the case anyway. Add some small stretched canvases and you'll probably want a canvas tote bag that will carry all of it together. (If you're really set on a metal case have a look at camera and video shops - you may be able to get one on sale that will carry more.) But I think you're aiming the right direction. :)


12-18-2001, 04:40 PM
I would get the following

37ml tubes of Black, thalo blue, cad yellow, cad light red, burnt sienna, and raw umbar. 150 ml tube of titanium white.

I would get filbert oil brushes in three sizes and two smaller sizes of medium grade nylon chisels for fine blending.

A small bottle of fast drying grumbacher medium

A pint can of turpentine oderless.

I would buy 5 practice boards...not stretched canvas....and then put them all in a shoe box...or something you can get for next to nothing at a goodwill store.

Then I would put the entire thing up on a shelf. I would go to the library, and begin to read. Read everything you can and then begin to sketch on junk paper. Then when you have a composition and an idea of what you want to paint...AND MORE IMPORTANTLY HOW YOU WANT TO PAINT (STYLE)....THEN and only then I would begin to do a tonal sketch...a monotone ...use a mix of black and white to get a grey....or use burnt sienna. Get some rags and your turpentine and rub out the lights in the sketch and darken the darks with your brush and the paint your using. Only when this is done....begin to paint your first oil.

More paintings are ruined before a brush is put to canvas then at any other time.


12-19-2001, 11:08 AM
i think you are being offered what is probably a very good deal, but i concur with earlier posts that some of the things you are getting a "good deal" on you may not even want anyway. definitely don't waste your time on student-grade oils (artist-grade oils go farther anyway, pretty much negating the savings), but don't waste it on "hues" or cadmium/cobalt substitutes, either.

you could easily spend $100 and get a really nice set of a fair-to-middling grade paint (holbein? gamblin?) with actual cadmiums and not buy the 8 or 10 colors you don't even need. i mean, i think sennelier is okay paint but its not the greatest.

save your money for brushes, which is where i end up spending all my money. there is no substitute for having the nicest brushes! filberts are the best but a few rounds and brights here and there can make a difference as well. even as a beginning oil painter you will notice the difference if you use substandard brushes or paints.

12-21-2001, 10:09 PM
depends on what your needs are. sennlier paints are good paints, but they might be more then you need for starting out. you can get good medium range oils, not student quality and start out cheaper, if its money that you are worrying about.

i disagree with vallarta about once you buy them putting them aside. start painting, get a feel for oil paint, feel how your brush moves, etc. drawing and the technical side will come along with you, getting to know the paint is just as important as drawing.

start out brave, approach your canvas openly, accept your limitations and work with them, it'll all come together, and the sooner you start, the better...

12-21-2001, 10:34 PM
Zack, this is the right place to get answers to all your questions.

One comment I have: although Vallarta is trying to be helpful with his very specific recommendations,
the best materials for your needs may be very different than his recommendations. For example, with the colours he recommends, you will probably be very dissapointed that you cannot mix anything near a clean purple. This may or may not be disadvantageous for you.

So my point is to find out what materials you need before buying, so you don't spend your money on lots of stuff you don't need and ensure you get what you really do need.

Wayne Gaudon
12-22-2001, 07:41 AM
I bought a starter kit and I'm sorry I did. I can use some stuff and some of it is out and out garbage. I read everything I could find about oil and asked questions .. after I bought the kit .. duh!

Best to read and ask and then consider what you need for your first study and get it .. depending on subject matter, your needs could be surprisingly small to start out and adding a piece as you go is not that big of a deal.

Most important, to me, is to get yourself a few Quality brushes .. don't skimp on the brushes as you will only have to replace them with good ones as you progress.

12-22-2001, 10:17 AM
In my original post I was thinking like "me" - wanting to get everything all at once. After reading the succeeding posts I realized I was 100% wrong. The best thing to do (I am in agreement with several of our regulars) is to consult your instructor and let him/her tell you what is required for the class your are taking or you could very well be throwing money away instead of saving it. Unless the tubes specifically say "student grade" they are supposedly light fast and dependable. You might want to look at Blockx and Rembrandt, which are supposed to be excellent paints and very reasonable.

12-25-2001, 10:02 PM
If you really want to save money, then you don't need 14 tubes of paint to start. Most will agree that minimum you need the following colors: green (usually viridian or pthalo), blue (usually pthalo or ultramarine), magenta (art teachers usually like alizarin crimson, I personally like Grumbacher Thalo Violet [really a quinacridone violet/magenta] but that's just me), yellow (usually cadmium) and red (also usually cadmium). Plus a big tube of white.

Blacks and earth tones are more controversial. Some say you don't need them. Others say you do. If you do get black, then ivory black is the one you want to get.

12-26-2001, 12:47 PM
Thanks everyone for all the input. As per usual this forum has been a great help to me, and I appreciate everyone taking the time to give me a hand.

Having read the responses and other threads on WetCanvas I think that the package set probably isnít the way to go, and have instead elected to buy the pieces separately. For the colors Iím going with a split-complimentary palette in Talens Rembrandt line:

Cadmium Red Medium (PR108)
Perm. Madder Deep (PR264)
Ultramarine Deep (PB29)
Pthalo Blue Green (PB15:4)
Perm. Lemon Yellow (PY184)
Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY35)
Titanium White (PW6/PW4)
And possibly Ivory Black, though Iím considering seeing how far I can get by without it.

Brushes Iím still not sure about, though Iíll probably take vallartaís advice and buy a few sizes of filberts. Iíd also like to pick up a fan for blending work. I have no idea regarding which brand of brushes are better, but I intend to do a little research on that here later :)

As for the medium, Iím thinking of taking vallartaís advice again with the fast drying grumbacher, since itís a one-bottle solution rather than having to mix 2 or 3 liquids (Iíll save that for a later time).

In any event, after pricing most of this it looks like Iíll still come out better than the box set price-wise. The only thing Iíll really be missing is the caseÖbut thatís okay Ďcause I found a really great lightweight (and huge) toolbox at Wal-Mart that is adequate for all my supplies this semester.

Thanks again everyone. I look forward to painting in oils :)


12-26-2001, 05:17 PM
Recommend as others check with your instructor for suggested supply list first. Limited palette is a better choice!

Then if you find you don't enjoy working with oils you don't have a huge investment!