Pre-mixing paints - medium?

Hi Everyone, I have a question about pre-mixing paints with medium.  Mark Carder has a nice little video on this.  He pre-mixes a tube of paint with slow-dry medium.  I'd like to do this myself because I think it might make painting more efficient.  But what medium to use?  Can I make a medium with linseed oil and natural turpentine (all that I have to hand)?  Should I get some slow-dry medium?  If so, what kind of slow-dry medium would you recommend?  So far, I have only used Liquin Original for a medium.  It has some advantages, but I don't like because it dries so fast and is rather sticky.  Of course, I have properly mastered it, I'm sure.  What about you guys?  How are you using medium, and what medium do you prefer?  No doubt we will all try the Geneva paints sometime!


  • Hi @Gary_Heath here's what he recommended in the website 

    medium recipes

    There are currently no mediums on the market that slow the drying rate of oil paint adequately, so you will need to make it yourself.

    recipe for slow-dry medium (for all colors except titanium white):

    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits (any artist-grade odorless mineral spirits will do)
    • 5 parts stand oil or linseed stand oil (this is viscous like honey and is not the same as refined linseed oil)
    • 1 part refined linseed oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine *
    • 2 parts oil of cloves †

    For burnt umber, you will need extra clove oil. Please watch this video for instructions on how to incorporate the extra clove oil into burnt umber:

    recipe for slow-dry medium for titanium white:

    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits
    • 1 part stand oil or linseed stand oil
    • 5 parts refined linseed oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine *

    Venice turpentine is not at all the same as what is commonly known as "turpentine", a solvent commonly used by artists many years ago (and still used by some artists today). Venice turpentine, on the other hand, is simply tree sap — a thick resin which is thick like honey.

    † Oil of cloves is sold as "clove leaf oil", "clove bud oil", or simply "clove oil" — any of these forms is fine. You may try looking for it in drug stores, health food stores, or from an online supplier.

    Here is a video tutorial on mixing paint with medium:

  • Gary_Heath

    Here is a pretty comprehensive guide on mediums for reference:

    Your paint probably has about 50% linseed oil already in the tube.
    Add more linseed to adjust consistency. Realistic detail needs a free flowing consistency. Mark recommends a Ketchup consistency, the paint should drop off your mixing knife.
    Add stand oil to add a buttery consistency.
    Add solvent if you want to thin the paint and speed drying. Non toxic citrus solvents are available.
    Add clove oil (100% pure) to lengthen the open time of the paint to about a week.
    Add Venetian turpentine (larch resin) to put a glossy body on the paint surface.

    Walnut oil is a good substitute for linseed.
    The Liquin you mentioned is a modified soy oil.

    In summary using a medium is about crafting paint to better suit your purposes.


  • @kaustavM, @dencal, Thank you!  That's really useful info. in one place.  Apparently, Turpenoid Natural is not recommended for mixing.  I can tell you it's an excellent  brush cleaner.  I think I'll run with a simple linseed and Gum turps. mixture for the time being until I get all the materials to make a slow-dry medium.  There do seem to be as many medium formulas as there are artists!

  • edited October 2020
    If you use gum turpentine make sure you have adequate ventilation. It's pretty toxic stuff. It can be harmful when ingested, inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Odorless mineral spirit is somewhat less toxic. It is possible to paint without solvents. Some painters just use pure walnut oil as a medium.  :)
  • @tassieguy Noted, thanks.  I've probably poisoned myself already, but I want to take more care actually.  I've seen people using walnut oil. Since I have linseed oil, I'm thinking to using that for now.
  • Poppy and walnut oils are good for practice paintings and dries slower. OMS is better than turps. When I was training myself in DMP I used a combo of safflower oil, turps and clove oil. But these paintings were done on oil paper and didn't want to spend that much.  But don't use safflower oil as it remains very sticky even when dry.
  • kaustavM said:
     OMS is better than turps. [...]  

    That does seem to be the general consensus, and I do find the smell of turps nauseous.  There is a school of thought, however, that says gum turps is the best solvent.  It certainly works.  I do have some odourless  "thinners", so I'll use that with linseed oil for the time being.  I think I have some clove oil somewhere.  I didn't like Liquin Original's sticky quality myself.

  • edited October 2020
    I only use linseed and walnut oil. I may achieve 3-4 days maybe 5, of extending my paint. But even with this practise, a skin forms on my blobs of paint on my palette, I carefully peel this back and pull the wet paint out clean. I may have to add little more oil, but I make certain not too much oil. I keep a cotton ball with a drop or 2 of clove oil in my closed palette, but this absolutely never gets into my paint. Poppy oil is another good choice to add. The paint on my canvas is most often thoroughly dry within 14-18 hours, or the next day.
  • I use walnut oil and the painting stays wet for at least 2 days - the light colours even longer. 
  • I use walnut oil too. No solvents.  I add a bit of clove for the raw umber.   Pallet dries about same rate as @tassieguy ‘s  I paint thin so panels dry in about a week or so and I wait three months or so before varnishing.
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