Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some thoughts on Oil Painting Mediums

There are so many combinations and options for painting with oil, and then of course there is the newer water-soluble oils (which I have never tried).  When I paint alla prima (wet on wet, completed all in one sitting) in a small format (see my small paintings blog for examples) I like to use walnut oil. It's very fluid and keeps the paint thin yet still buttery, making it ideal for mixing color right on the panel, which is what I like most about wet on wet.  Poppy seed oil can also be used. The bonus is it's non toxic and has no odor like linseed oil.  I also clean my brushes with vegetable oil so I can keep my studio toxin free (no turp)...especially good for working indoors in the winter. Vegetable oil is also very kind to your brushes...a natural conditioner.  One word of caution:  keep walnut or poppy seed oil in a cool place as it will go rancid in the heat. 

However, when I work large I have to confess that I prefer the poisons. Using galkyd mixed with oil and mineral spirits is just fabulous for thick, buttery paint and smooth application.  I paint on panel mostly and really like NOT having bristle marks in my strokes.  Galkyd does the job. It's also is great for glazing too!  The larger the percentage of galkyd to mineral spirits, the faster the paint dries.  Downside? Mineral spirits have odor...even low odor and so-called odorless smell, so you MUST work with ventilation. Gamsol is the least toxic alternative to MS. It smells too though, but at least it is not absorbed through the skin.

These are the two avenues I've experienced and like. I welcome thoughts of others about oil mediums.

Velvet Ground: 7 x 9" oil on panel

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