SDM for Titanium white

I'm busy mixing up slow drying medium as per Marks recipe. For titanium white he adds 5 parts Linseed oil. The titanium white I bought has safflower oil in to avoid discoloration over time. Can I substitute the 5 parts linseed in the recipe with safflower oil? Thanks in advance!


  • Please stop me if you guys see me doing something wrong. I came across a thread and its seems the linseed oil vs safflower oil (even poppy oil) debate is a can of worms. The short answer is Safflower oil does take a tad longer to dry than linseed oil (so I see no problem there other than it being a problem in lower layers when not painting alla prima). Also many manufacturers supposedly use safflower for the majority of their paints including Lefranc & Bourgeois, Sennelier, and W&N.

    For Titanium white Im going to change the recipe to the following:
    • 11 parts odorless mineral spirits
    • 1 part stand oil or linseed stand oil
    • 4 parts safflower oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine
    I reduced the safflower parts by 1 (linseed was 5) to accommodate the slower drying time, and added 1 part to the mineral spirits.
  • dewald

    The aim with SDM is to increase the open time of the paint by slowing the drying rate.
    Using these components means you should get a positive result. There is no clove oil in this formula, as the clove sets up titanium white (TW) like rubber. Not really a problem as TW is mixed with other pigments and rarely used as a pure white.
    The additional mineral spirit and reduced oil could mean a less viscous mix, with more rapid drying and may show more sinking. Resultant paint mixes may want to run down the canvas and dry with a mat sheen.

    The other option is walnut oil, but in this TW context it is not really relevant.

    I don’t think the drying time b/w linseed and safflower is important in this TW context.
    Therefore, the change in the solvent level is just adding additional risk factors. We use a small amount of TW anyway, suggest the less TW you use the better.

  • Hey Denis, thanks so much. Funny I wanted to ping you for help :)

    Ok yes, so if I understand correctly then upping the mineral spirit may introduce a greater risk than the drying time between linseed and safflower?

    I just read somewhere else TW is slow drying to begin with. So maybe just drop the mineral spirit like so and keep safflower at 4:
    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits
    • 1 part stand oil or linseed stand oil
    • 4 parts safflower oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine
    Or would you suggest as per Marks recipe?
    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits
    • 1 part stand oil or linseed stand oil
    • 5 parts safflower oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine
    Apologies. I first time I'm mixing this and I'm a bit unsure.
  • dewald

    I would stick with Mark’s formula and mix a small batch. Using this will demonstrate what to expect.
    Next small batch can experiment with component variations. Armed with the first batch experience, you will be able to see the different effects of the changes.

    I use W&N WMs (when not using Geneva) and mix a small batch of TW for each session with plain walnut oil to get the right consistency.

  • @Dewald - Yellowing and darkening ingredients in oil paintings are a current and ever-popular topic of disagreement er lively discussion. 😊  If you are concerned about this, I recommend the MITRA resources site for good information.

    I admire and respect Mr. Carder very much – he has done more to give painters a solid process and good recommendations about materials than anyone else I can think of. With that acknowledgement, I do not follow the DMP advice in all aspects.

    Venice turpentine, AKA larch balsam, is a natural resin which takes a relatively long time to dry. I suspect that this is the reason it is part of the SDM formula. Every natural resin, as far as I know, darkens (yellow or brown) irreversibly over time. This takes decades or centuries, so maybe this is not a concern for you.

    I agree with @Dencal that you should first understand through experience what the original SDM is like before you start changing the ingredients. This becomes your baseline. Replacing linseed oil with safflower oil while retaining a large amount of natural resin may not get you what you think.

    As does Dencal, I also use walnut oil alone as an addition to the tubed paint when I want a slower set up time.   

  • @dencal Hey Denis. Yes that makes sense. I was also thinking last night ‘does it really matter at this time?’. I mean Im here to learn the method(s). None of these paintings will ever be sold or make it to some museum 🤣

    Thanks. I’m going with Marks recipe then. 
  • @Desertsky Haha yes! I’ll check that site out in due course thanks!

    Agreed. Basics for now.  
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