Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mediums for Oil Painitng

The list of mediums in the reference books (The Artist's Handbook by Meyer) is quite extensive.  Their use varies from thinning paint, thickening paint for impasto, transparentizing paint, glazing, slowing drying, speeding drying, improves flow, and extending.  The standard approach from the day was a variation on;
  • varnish - 2 parts
  • turpentine - 2 parts
  • stand oil - 1 part

Some added cobalt drier (toxic) to the mix.

Turpentine is frowned on these days because of its toxicity.  So now people substitute Odourless Mineral Spirits.

Here are a few mediums that I use or have used.

The Chemist's Lair

From left to right these are;

Walnut Oil - by Graham, thins and extends drying time
Morager Medium - thixotropic, this thins or thickens with the brush, speeds drying, makes paint flow*
ZEC - by Grumbacher,  greatly speeds drying, thickens, improves flow*
Alkyd Butter - by Gamblin, speeds drying, thickens, improves flow*
Alkyd Medium - by Stevenson, speeds drying, thickens, improves flow
Alkyd Gel - by DVC, speeds drying, thickens, improves flow
Walnut Alkyd - by Graham, thins, improves flow, greatly speeds drying
Liquin - by Winsor Newton, thins, improves flow, greatly speeds drying

All of these make paint more transparent and can be used to glaze.

* product contains petroleum distillates - easy to smell

I have experimented with all of these and variations of the old stand bys.  For me each has merits.  My usage is now restricted to 3 of these depending on what I am trying to achieve.  For example, If I am trying to make my signature dry quickly I use Walnut Alkyd.  In general I use an alkyd gel but I don't like one that dries too quickly, so en plein air I usually do not use these.  Most of the time I use the paint unaltered from the tube perhaps with a touch of mineral spirits at the beginning of the painting.  Having said that, yesterday I used an alkyd gel from the get go to start a painting.  I was only out an hour or so and the weather was not real warm, so fast drying was not an issue.

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