Ways & How

How to Use Oil Paints on Glass

How to Use Oil Paints on Glass

Oil paints are very versatile and simple to use. They are easier to blend and mix than other paints, and you can achieve various effects with them. When learning how to use oil paints on glass, keep in mind that they have different characteristics compared to the usual paints for glass surfaces, like acrylic paint. Their oil base makes them more slippery, which adds quite a challenge as glass surfaces are also very smooth and slippery. This, however, does not mean you cannot use them for glass painting. Extra measures and a little more care are all it takes to successfully use oil paints to decorate glass surfaces.

  1.  What you need: Oil paints, paintbrush and palettes along with the glass surface you are to paint on. Keep some tissues handy too. You will also need a sandblaster or sandpaper to prep the glass.

  2. Prepare the glass surface. To make sure that the oil paint will stick to the glass, you first have to roughen it up. Use sandpaper or a sandblaster at 30 pounds per inch.

    You can also head to a local glass studio and ask them to treat your glass using their equipment.

  3. Trace a sketch. You may want to initially lay an outline of your painting on the glass to act as a guide. You can either trace it directly on the glass or make a sketch on paper and directly place it on the other side of the glass. If you opt for the latter, it’s advisable to secure it in place with masking or painter’s tape.

  4. Position the glass. Look for an open area and a flat surface to position the glass so that the glass is isolated and easy to access. This is important to ensure ease of painting and prevent anything from touching any part of the finished areas.

  5. Prepare your oil paints. Oil paints are usually prepared using oil and solvent in a 1:2 ratio. This mix helps dilute the paint and prevents it from becoming too buttery. Linseed oil is the most widely used for oil painting, but you can also choose other oils like walnut, poppy seed or safflower. Other oils with certain features are also available, such as Winsor and Newton’s “Liquin,” which makes oil paints dry faster. A solvent, such as turpentine, is used to “thin” the paint. Other thinners are odorless turpentine substitutes like white mineral spirits or turpenoids. Alternatively, there are ready-made oil paints that do not need dilution, but they may be a bit pricier. When preparing your oil paints, you may need to mix together certain colors to get the tints and shades you want. As for the brush, stiff ones are preferred for oil paint, but you can also use soft “rigger” brushes for fine details.

  6. Painting the glass surface. Paint large areas first before adding in smaller and finer details. Oil painting on canvas is usually applied in layers; however, on a glass surface, decorative details do not usually warrant any layering or blending on the glass itself. Depending on your design, use opaque portions, shading and highlights to strike a balance. Always be careful not to smudge any area with your hand, as oil paint does not dry rapidly. An advantage though is that you can wipe off any mistakes immediately and easily correct any problem areas.

  7. Finishing up. Once you’re completely done, set the painting aside and let it dry. Depending on the oil and solvent used, the paint may take a few hours to a few days to totally dry. When you are sure the paint has dried, gently wipe the surface of the painting with a paper towel to absorb excess paint and clean up any areas where the oil paint shouldn’t be. Now you’re done!

Painting designs on glass is fun, and the tips above on how to use oil paints on glass will help you tackle your first oil-on-glass project. Enjoy painting!


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