Beautifully done, I love it. I currently only work with graphite pencils but want to start painting. I don't know anything about the color wheel or anything. How long, realistically would it take to learn the process? I think it is natural to get a strong feel for drawing, learn the forms, reflected light etc. And then move into painting. I think painting would be much easier because you can cover more space in less time, rather than cross hatching the shit out of a big open form to sculpt it. How many colors should I start with? To start learning? Love your work, it's brilliant...
the way I paint I can tell you it definitely does not save anytime. There are so many more layers involved.. after roughly painting the whole canvas with a large brush i move to brushes as small as a pencil tip to about 1/4" in size.. and I still feel like I use a lot of cross hatching before blending colors (I end up mix most of the colors right on canvas) but that's just one way to do it! You can learn the basics pretty fast though, then just take it in your own direction. if it's possible, take a short intro to painting class, that'd be the easiest way in my mind. I use grumbacher pre-tested oils.. they're great quality and well priced. you can get a good deal on a nice starter kits with good trial sized tubes on ebay with all the colors you'll need to start off with (about 10. Personally, I ALWAYS use thalo green, thalo blue, titanium white, cadmium barium red, naples yellow, alizaran crimson, and burnt sienna). Cobalt blue, cadmium barium red light and permanent green light are also ones I use frequently, but I can't do anything without those first 7.
also I use a medium of 1 part linseed oil to 1 part damaar varnish to 5 parts turpentine.
A common technique is to make an under painting in only one color (I think people usually use burnt or raw sienna but you can use any color, depending on the tone of the painting). This would probably work well for you since you're used to shading.
i just realized this comment was left a few months ago, sorry! I don't spend as much time here on deviantart as i used to. Hope this helps! You should go for it if you haven't already. it's really not that expensive or anything to start off.
i feel like every time I start a painting I have to relearn "how to paint." It's never a clear formula for me.