Water Soluble Oils

I am new to oil painting. I have been given a lot of water soluble oil paints. My studio is my kitchen, so I like the idea that the WS oils are low odor and can be cleaned up with soap and water. Do any of you have experience with the water soluble oils?


  • elizabethsnow

    Yes! I have used W&N WS oils for a few years now, as do several other DMP folks.
    I use them, not with water, but with ws mediums and freely intermix the ws paint with normal oil paint and non ms mediums. I have adopted an oil immersion storage for brushes, so cleaning up is not a problem. The benefit is avoiding heavy solvent odour for indoor painting.

    The ws oils have a much lower cost, behave quite predictably and perform in much the same way as normal oil paint. I have not noticed any problems with pigment strength, fading, cracking or delaminating.


  • Thanks Denis and Kingston. The paints I will have are Cobra and W&N Artisan brands. From the reviews I've read, Cobra can be oily, and Artisan can be sticky. I am used to watercolours, so am expecting using oils to involve quite a learning experience. It's great to have knowledgeable people like you to turn to.
  • I have just joined this form a few minutes ago, and this will be my first comment.

    I use the Grumbacher MAX was oils and like them a lot. Jerry Yarnell got me started on these and taught me how to use them.

    Water soluble oils are a true oil paint and behave like other oil paints with the exception that water can be used as a solvent for clean up. We've all heard that water and oil do not mix, but the linseed oil used in the ws oils has been modified so that this adage is not true. The chemistry is well understood and water soluble oils have been used in other industries for many years.

    The key with all ws oils is to use water ONLY for cleanup of your brushes, etc. Do not thin with water! You'll get all sorts of weird results in addition to strange drying characteristics.

    Out of the tube, your paints might need some adjusting. Just add a drop or two of the water soluble linseed oil to adjust to the creamy consistency you need.

    Windsor Newton and Cobra have an excellent reputation, although I have not used them. WN make a thinner that I plan to try with my Grumbacher. The WN thinner uses D-Limonene for its solvent and should be chemically compatible with other ws oils. The manufacturers won't admit it, but the various ws oils can be used together although testing a particular combination is a good idea. If they mix nicely in the wet stage, once they have cured you will be OK. It's all organic chemistry which is quite predictable.

    Windsor Newton makes several water soluble mediums. I saw Mark's formula for his slow drying medium and plan to figure out how to make a water soluble version. If anyone else has already done this, I'd love to hear about your formula!
  • @Kingston I'll agree with using water for the under painting where you are thinning the paint a lot. I've seen instructions that say to add a few drops to make it more workable, and that tends to make the paint sticky. After tinting and under painting though, no water.

    I've never used the Venetian turpentine. I'll research that. Making an oil or medium water miscible is straightforward but not exactly simple. The approach I'm thinking of looking into is similar to what is used in cosmetics and is also used for some of the ws paints. I think I can make up some of Mark's medium and then modify the medium to increase the water miscibility. I'll post more in this later.
  • mstrick96

    Welcome to the DMP Forum.

    Try mixing Artisan with Mark's SDM. I do so regularly on the palette and canvas, with no problems, but not tried for long term storage yet.

    Just for fun I'll put a tube of Artisan in storage with SDM now and report on the results.

  • Folks

    OK. Mixing about 30 ml of TW with SDM took about twenty minutes, mostly stirring.
    Consistency is a smooth glossy ketchup. Falls off the stirrer just like Mark demonstrates.
    If I notice any hardening I'll abandon the test and use this lot for toning new canvas.

  • Carderites

    Fifteen hours after mixing Artisan water miscible titanium white with Mark's slow dry medium (normal mix) there is no hardening, no change in viscosity.

  • bluenose

    This test of Artisan TW and SDM will have to run or about a week or two before we can have any confidence in the combination.

    At 26 hours still like kechup and drops off the stirrer as before.

  • Carderites

    Four days in and the test sample of W&N Artisan TW and normal SDM is still in the same condition smooth, uniform, ketchupy and drops from stirrer. My confidence is building.

  • Folks

    A week has now passed since commencing the W&N Artisan TW and normal SDM test.
    Happy to report all is as before. No hardening or change in viscosity. Looking good.

  • @Dencal and anyone else that cares to comment I just found a jar of white paint marked Gamblin 11/11/14 on a shelf where I store some of my colors. I opened it up expecting it to be as hard as a rock but it was very fresh. Just to clarify it contained Gamblin titanium white and was prepared on 11/11/14 over five months ago. To your knowledge was there any reason that Gamblin paint should or should not have been used as a suitable white to mix with SDM?

    Hopefully Geneva paints will be available soon and all of these discussions will become mute.
  • MikeO

    Gamblin has a very restricted distribution. Don't remember seeing it anywhere around here.
    But if it works go with it.

    I would have thought someone would have discovered Gamblin before now.
    Are you sure it is mixed with SDM?

  • The stiffening used to occur with some batches of Gamblin and not others. We haven't tested it in a while.
  • @Dencal There can be no doubt. There wouldn't be any reason to have it mixed in a jar with a date on it. Part of the upside of belonging to the Drawmixpaint community is that we should be able to collectively solve problems like the "white drying in the jar" problem. I don't know whether it's worth polling the community about their experiences with white paint good or bad. I myself have never had any problems with any other color. But all of the white that I've mixed has hardened in the jar pretty rapidly, on the palette it's fine.

    On the Gamblin website it says that "alkali refined linseed oil" is the vehicle for the titanium white. All of their colors are mixed with different vehicles as required. I would be curious to know if anyone else has used Gamblin's titanium white and if there is any reason why I shouldn't.

    I would say that I consider Gamblin to be a superior paint company and they provide users with the necessary information to make informed choices.

    @Kingston @David_Quinn_Carder Weigh in on this if you have an opinion. There are people on this forum that have been around a lot longer than I have. I am curious to know why the white needs to be of a linseed oil type as opposed to a safflower oil type.

    Again all of this may be a mute point with the introduction of Geneva paints onto the market.
  • Linseed oil is better. If I remember correctly, safflower is used because it's not as yellow, which is a complete non-issue from a practical standpoint. The reason they use refined as opposed to cold-pressed with the titanium white is because refined decreases drying time (although not to the extreme that clove oil does) and titanium white is naturally far too slow drying.
  • MikeO said:

    Again all of this may be a mute point with the introduction of Geneva paints onto the market.

    indeed it is :-)

    MikeO[Deleted User]
  • Carderites

    Two weeks in, normal SDM in Artisan TW is smooth, ketchupy and good enough to eat. An outstanding success.

  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited August 2017
    deleted - wrong thread
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