View Full Version : Back to Oil Painting Solvent Free

02-10-2019, 05:44 PM
I want to paint without solvents or alkyds.

I tried oil painting solvent-free a few years ago and mistakenly got into making my own sun-thickened oil, with calcium carbonate and an egg emulsion to make a medium. Way too complicated, and I gave up and went back to acrylics.

I'd like to try again, but this time go very, very simple with my materials, and not use a medium. I wonder if you could answer a few specific questions.

1. I want to paint thinly, and I recall thinking that M. Graham paint is not stiff, and pretty thin. Any thoughts about this brand or recommendations of another brand (please see #2, below) for painting this way?

2. I plan to use a pre-primed canvas, to which I have added acrylic gesso. Then I plan to do a grisaille underpainting in acrylic. I'd like to glaze oil color thinly on top of that, multiple layers, without a medium (I prefer to stay away from alkyds). I have read on wetcanvas, and on M. Graham's website that when glazing one should apply a very thin amount of paint. My thought was to put only a little paint on the brush. Should I scrub that thin layer on, or is there another method of application?

3. For glazing thin layers in this manner, should I use a stiff bristle brush, or a soft brush?

4. I'd like to try using the paint straight from the tube, if possible, adding a drop of oil if/as needed, and oiling out between layers if/as needed. Do you recommend linseed or walnut oil, or does it not really matter?

5. Painting without solvents or alkyds, what would be a reasonable range of drying time in between thin layers?

Thank you for your advice.

02-11-2019, 01:58 AM
I paint solvent-free usually by virtue of painting impasto straight from the tube. I don't have much experience painting in thin layers though. I would try different brands, preferably those without thickeners or fillers, as they tend to be oilier than say Winton.

You may need to add linseed, walnut, or poppy oil to achieve your desired effect. Depending on the pigment, paints usually start to setup within 24-48 hours (not dry though). Adding oils may extend this time. I've noticed that across brands, earth colors, coppers, iron oxides, and cobalts dry really quickly while carbon blacks, titanium white, and cadmium colors dry slowly.

02-11-2019, 08:13 AM
Thanks, bokaba.

02-11-2019, 10:00 AM
I find M Graham to be excellent paint for glazing procedures, other paints of a similar consistency are Sennelier and Rembrandt. Getting a thin application of paint can be done in a couple of ways, brushing it out or scrubbing it in are one option. Another is piling out the surface so the paint glides around easily. Either option requires the use of the tiniest touch of color on the bristles and working it out with the brush. Smooth surfaces work well for glazing, the more rough the surface the harder it can be to get paint to spread evenly as paint tries to pool into the weave or texture of the surface. Walnut oil seems much more slippery to me than linseed oil. Glazing tends to dry based in the speed of the pigment, it can vary by the color. Bokaba’s findings on drying speed of colors fairly matches my own; also, several organic pigments can be slow driers (IME, Hansa and Phthalo tend to be slow drying to name a couple).

Glazing tends to darken a painting so be sure the underpainting is lighter in values by a significant amount than the finished work is planned to be.

02-11-2019, 01:56 PM
...Another is piling out...

oiling out*

I bet that could have been confusing to read otherwise. :lol:

02-11-2019, 05:41 PM
oiling out*

I bet that could have been confusing to read otherwise. :lol:
Thank you for your reply, and thank you for the clarification.

Harold Roth
02-11-2019, 07:28 PM
I second the consistency thing that Delo said about Graham and Sennelier (haven't used Rembrandt). I also do the oiling in the Delo describes. I use walnut oil and brush it on dry paint and then wipe it off with a shop towel. Then glaze into that. I thin the paint with oil to glaze also. I usually use a bristle brush, like a flat, but one thing I have been playing with that can give a neat appearance of texture or dappling is to use my fingertips. It's great for blending, too. I put a barrier cream on my hands and let it dry before I start painting. As bokaba mentioned, fast drying pigments really help.

02-11-2019, 08:18 PM
I would also caution that the layer be fairly dry before you apply the next. I have torn up the bottom layer by not waiting long enough.

02-11-2019, 08:19 PM
Thank you, Harold.

02-11-2019, 08:20 PM
Makes sense, bokaba. Thanks.

02-13-2019, 12:55 AM
I can recommend to use linseed oil. It dries better and forms more durable, higher molecular weight polymer.