RampArts - Community Art Group

Recipe 6: Still Life in Oils

The aim of this exercise is to:

  • experiment with oil paint
  • give you the freedom to express yourselves without being constrained by lack of drawing skills
  • produce a well composed picture that you will be pleased to hang on the wall




  • a nice firm piece of cardboard as large as you feel confident to paint. Use the picture in an upright (portrait) format
  • smaller rough pieces of cardboard on which to mix your paint
  • palette knives
  • chalk
  • oil paints
  • old cloths to wipe off your knives
  • plenty of newspaper to cover surfaces


You are using cardboard to give you a firm surface to work on. Use your window frames to compose your picture. Good composition is absolutely essential here as oil paint is expensive and you will want to hang your picture when complete. Poor composition always creates vague unease1 Carefully arrange the picture balancing colours and shapes.

Rough in the outlines using chalk and then paint with your palette knife. Mix the colours on the cardboard. Use plenty of paint, the tubes are very good value. You will not be able to get too much detail as you are creating an impression of your subject. When you have finished wrap all the cardboard palettes carefully in the newspaper and dispose of them.


Our results showed a great variety of styles even though everyone used teh same materials. The pictures take up to a fortnight to dry. Oil paintings can be framed quite cheaply because they do not need glass. Perhaps you or someone you know could make a frame! Pictures always look much better framed and on the wall.