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Medium - Confusion.

Hello all, I wonder if someone here can advise me about a couple of questions thats so simple to many yet very confusing to me. >>> (have my learner plates on)

(Background) - I am a self taught painter, who has always painted in Water colour and gouache. I have zero knowledge of oils. (time for a change) I have always had a big interest in oils, but have been put off using them because of a lack of understanding the method. ( soooo happy to have found Marks site, ) - while researching.

I have decided to give oils my full attention for the next six months.

I have purchased Artisan oils WMO ( because im sensitive to turps etc )- im confused about WHEN & HOW to use (mediums e.g. Linseed, safflower, stand and also >painting medium).

Can someone please explain to me the use sequence etc of using these products? ^^^^

Also - how do we measure Fat over lean? I read each top layer must be fatter?

I sincerely thank you all in advance for any help or suggestions you may give that can help me with these two questions.



  • Merritt

    Artisan Oils have the oil component in the tube chemically modified to mix with water if desired.

    Artisan can also be mixed with their own range of chemically modified mediums and solvents produced by Winsor and Newton - These are labeled "Water Mixable"

    Artisan can also be mixed with standard mediums and solvents, though you cannot wash our brushes in water, that is they should be regarded as a normal oil paint if you mix with (Non Water Mixable) standard mediums and solvents.

    Out of the tube Artisan are a bit on the stiff side for painting. So the simplest thinner is water. Instead you could try some (water Mixable) stand oil - I have had good success with this. Have a go at diluting with standard walnut oil - I will be trying this next - let us all know how you go.

    There is no 'sequence' it is a matter of trying out different things and finding what is best for you. The benefit of mediums is the adjustment of paint viscosity (aim for ketchup consistency) and the extension of the workable open time for the paint. Mediums also extend the time the paint remains workable on your palette and in your storage containers.

    Fat over lean is the general rule to use an oilier or fatter paint mix over a leaner mix.
    This ensures that the majority of the drying oils have the best exposure to oxygen in the air to enable the polymerizing of a skin as it dries. If you were to do the opposite the oily layer would be encased in a faster drying outer layer and may cause cracking or delamination, as the outer layer would dry faster. Fat over lean also assists the paint to move off the brush smoothly and evenly. This is important when you are working with wet on wet.

    Most shop bought mediums will speed up drying. The mediums Mark recommends include those designed to maximize the open working time and use larch resin (venetian turpentine) and clove oil.

    Have a look on the Winsor and Newton web page under the Resources section for "The Oil Colour Book" an excellent free book.

    and the section covering Artisan paint

    Hope this helps.

  • Dencal.... thank you so much for the very clear & extensive reply ^:)^ your knowledge is very very much appreciated Dencal. So as a rule of thumb the stand oil added will increase flow and extend out drying times. I will search out walnut oil as you recommend and have a play with that also. :) By combining Marks and your excellent advise I should in time be able to finally put together a painting in oils.
  • dencaldencal -
    edited May 2013

    I can recommend these suppliers for price and service.

    They also do clove oil should you need it.

  • Thanking you again Dencal :)
  • Robert

    You may not be able to smell OMS but your lungs are still absorbing the petroleum product and it is still circulating and accumulating in the bloodstream.

    The odorless attribute is a deception as you don't notice anything until the headaches are bad enough and eyes are dry and itchy. If OMS is a must then ventilate well.

  • Robert

    Cheap home brand baby oil, recycled after removing the paint sludge, brushes well dried out on tissue after a vigorous bath. Reckon I've used about 600ml (23 oz) in two and a half years.
    Mark recommends vegetable oil will work as well and will self dry.
    Walnut oil works too but can be comparatively expensive.

    Any of these as cleaners are much kinder to brushes and leaves bristles in good condition.

  • edited May 2013
    I've been doing a version what I think Mark does - I leave my brushes suspended in linseed oil using clothes pins and wipe them off on a lint-free paper towel between colors, going from dark to light. Nothing more. I think Mark suspends his brushes in a mix of linseed and OMS, but I just use linseed.

    If I need to go back from a lighter value to dark or black, to avoid milkiness, I use a new brush or saturate the brush I'm using in black and wipe it off first. Either way, my brushes have fared very well, and I primarily use sables. I haven't noticed any muddiness or bleeding of colors either.
  • @Martin_J_Crane I do it the exact same way and find that it works very well. You may have missed a post I made several months back about an alternative to the clothes pins. You might like this idea. The thread is HERE.
  • @dencal
    The benefit of mediums is the adjustment of paint viscosity (aim for ketchup consistency)
    You seem to know alot about this. If I add only stand oil, linseed oil, walnut oil or mixes of those to my paint, and NO turps and mineral spirits, can I still aim for the ketchup consistency by dilluting the paint with the oils mentioned only, or will my paint be too oily then?
  • Ebs

    Using the three oils mentioned:- I would use water mixable (W/M) stand and W/M linseed together (if further adjustment required use water). Walnut can be used alone to achieve a workable consistency, then handle as if it is an oil paint (ie non W/M).

  • ebsebs -
    edited June 2013
    @dencal Thanks Denis.
    Sorry I wasn't clear enough. In my case I'm using regular oil paints. I'm going to use Rembrandt oils which has a more buttery consistency than the Winsor & Newton brand except for perm. alizarin where I'm using W&N. I was thinking just a couple of drops with stand oil/linseed oil to get it more workable?

    What I'm afraid of is using too much oils so that I end up with paint that wrinkles and saggs. (But I guess I'll notice that pretty quickly, and that it's not like cracking where it can takes years to show up)
  • Ebs
    It was my understanding that you couldn't use water with the W/M once you mixed it with linseed oils?
    Correct! But you can mix with water if you buy the specially formulated water mixable linseed oil by Winsor and Newton. Or if mixing Artisan with normal linseed or stand oil then you cannot use water.

    With normal paint use a dipper or eye dropper and use one or two drops per teaspoon of paint and work up to about five drops if necessary.

    If all this is too complicated an easy solution is a blob of liquin - this is a drying accelerator but liquin will thin the paint without losing value or chroma.


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