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john
03-02-2019, 10:32 AM
I'm relatively new to oil painting. I tried water mixable oils but didn't like the smell, I guess because of the linseed oil in it. So I got M Graham walnut oils which are great. I also have liquin, walnut alkyd medium, regular walnut oil and have decided on Gamsol as a thinner. I have been trying all these things and then I read about the yellowing of the alkyds and liquins. My painting has glossy sections and sections that are flat. I watch YT vids and my favorite guy uses alkyd oils with liquin. :confused:

I think I'm confusing myself with too many things. I thought I was fairly scientific kind of guy, but the more I read the more confused I get. This person uses oil of lavender, that person uses eye of newt. And then there is some Canadian stuff? I guess it's like Canadian bacon which isn't really bacon?

So I'm thinking of forgetting about all the drying faster stuff and just going with Gamsol and walnut oil. Is there any reason to use anything else if I am not worried about dry times ? As far as the handling properties, flow, adhesion etc, of the paint is there anything else I may want to use? I know about fat over lean and thick over thin.

Sorry to open this can of worms again but I'm having enough troubles with just making the right brush strokes in the right places. :)

JustAStudent
03-02-2019, 11:09 AM
I'm just starting out myself, but what literally everyone and their dog has told me is to just do oil, paint, spirits (gamsol, turp, OMS, Spike, whatever you like) for now. Worry about experimenting with other mediums once you're comfortable with that and you want to change something specific... such as, I want it thicker but more translucent, or I want it thinner but to still show distinct brush strokes, or whatever. Then you would start experimenting with alternative mediums and additives.

john
03-02-2019, 11:52 AM
Thanks student. I guess I heard/know that also but I always want to know everything about it all right away. A combination of lack of patience and hubris. "I don't need to go slow, that's for beginners." Plus, the whole thing really is confusing. Watercolors, you add water. Simple.

Like "spike". I use them for my tent when camping. What in the world is spike? Do you add that to Canada lavender? So now I need to look up and get some spike and get even more confused. :)

edit: OK, Spike is oil of lavender. Not going there. One report says the smell is overwhelming and Gamsol doesn't bother me.

RomanB
03-02-2019, 01:36 PM
Walnut oil is a good medium, basically you don't need anything else. Linseed oil provides more opportunities to modify its properties, but if you don't like the smell (are you sure that you don't like any linseed oil, not just a particular bottle of it?), walnut is the second choice. It could become rancid after some time, be prepared.

JustAStudent
03-02-2019, 03:00 PM
I can't say I've ever smelled linseed oil while painting. Certainly not over the smell of odorless mineral spirits. If it were water mixables, I wouldn't blame the linseed, my first guess would be whatever emulsifier they had added. I'd certainly give a standard oil a sniff before making my judgment. Amazon Prime had a tube of some random Winton Hue for $3.50 w/ free shipping a couple weeks ago. You could keep your eyes open for a deal like that and get a standard oil paint to sniff for minimal cost and see if it bothers you the same. (I'm not sure if it's considered acceptable to crack open oil paints at the store without buying). At that point, I'd consider it maybe being Linseed.

I can sympathize with you about wanting to know what's best from the onset (though mediums weren't my first focus), but oil paint can be almost as simple as watercolors (in the medium respect). Just substitute a mix of your walnut oil and gamsol (I've heard between 1:2 and 1:1 is a good standard mix) for water. The difference seems to be that they don't have to be. They have these other methods, materials and techniques... but they're so vast that you really can't approach them all at the start or you'll just never be able to focus on painting, you'll be so busy constantly adjusting your paints to find what feels best to you.

What I did get caught up on in my first few attempts was that the oil paints are just so luscious and thick, I wanted to jump right into impasto paintings, really leaving it on thick and capturing texture and shade in the subject with texture and shade in the paint. I got told pretty quickly by my professor that I was in way over my head and should thin out my paint and learn to capture these characteristics of the subject with color and not attempt to build these big, thick paintings, as correcting them without knowing really what I was doing would quickly become an exercise in futility. I would think the same could be said about focusing too much on the properties of your medium without knowing how the paint behaves when thinned out to where the medium is minimally noticeable in the final effect.

TomMather
03-02-2019, 03:36 PM
I have heard of linseed oil yellowing over time but not alkyds. Iíve painted with linseed oil, Liquin and Galkyd and havenít noticed any perceptible yellowing of any paintings, some of which are 20+ years old. I wouldnít get too caught up or scared by some of the technical discussions here, which tend to exaggerate potential problems. BTW, you should avoid oil of newt at all costs.

JCannon
03-02-2019, 03:40 PM
The alchemy of creating a "perfect" oil medium is all part of the fun. But it's possible to get so entranced by obscure practices and resources that you neglect painting.

One way to proceed is to research the methods of an artist whose work deserves emulation. Recently, I decided to figure out how Rubens managed to accomplish so much so rapidly. Yes, he had a studio and apprentices, but that fact doesn't explain everything. The sheer acreage he produced is jaw-dropping.

It is said that he could finish a fairly large-sized panel in a single day. How is this possible, if he worked in layers -- as painters of his time did?

The alchemically-minded have suggested that Rubens used various magic ingredients in his medium recipe. A few have suggested that the initial layers were not in oil at all. But the truth seems rather more mundane.

He painted on rather absorbent grounds and he usually used turpentine as his sole medium. Also, he used lead white, which dries much faster than Titanium.

That's it.

The actual paint was bound in linseed oil, and he may have used litharge (lead) to increase the drying speed of this oil. But the paint was thinned with nothing but turpentine. And his method of applying paint was a lot more direct than was the case with his Renaissance predecessors -- in other words, he did not employ a grisaille, and there was usually no slow build-up of layers, although some effects were indeed created with layering.

Thus, to a student who likes Rubens as much as I do, my advice would be: Go, thou, and do likewise.

IF you can stand to be around turpentine. (Otherwise, go with OMS.) And please understand the basics of fire safety. I suppose a little alkyd in the paint nugget might serve the same siccative purpose as lead, but I would not worry so much about that.

Pinguino
03-02-2019, 04:04 PM
Actually, if I were trying to emulate the Rubens method, I'd use acrylic paint instead. And, I am sure Rubens would do it, too. Either that, or do computer graphics.

As for the original question: Do you really need any mediums at all, at this stage? I am also a newbie, and find that I only use a medium in two situations: (1) Some paints direct from the tube are thicker than others. I add just a touch of medium to the thicker ones, so that all the paints feel the same. (2) I like to glaze over dry paint. For glazing, I thin the glaze layer with a medium. But if I didn't glaze, this would not be necessary.

As you noted, some part of your painting will be dull, others shiny. This might be due to some oil absorption in the support (canvas, or whatever). I might also be due to different kinds of brushwork. Or, it may be due to different oil content of the paints. The solution is often to "oil out" the finished painting (look up the technique here at WC), which will make everything about equally shiny. Then, when all that is thoroughly dry, a suitable varnish will make it even more uniform (gloss or matte, your choice).

john
03-02-2019, 05:36 PM
And then, to thin the paint, we can use a thinner like Gamsol, or a medium, like walnut oil, which isn't a thinner. Right? But we use them at different ratios in different parts of the painting - fat over lean, thick over thin. That much I know. Unless drying agents like alkyds or liquin is used. Then I can use thin over thick if the thick has drying agents, or dries for a while.

Can a thinner like Gamsol be called a medium? I'm thinking no because it evaporates?

This oil paint stuff is absurd. :lol:

Pinguino
03-02-2019, 06:31 PM
It is not oil paint which is absurd. It is oil painters who are absurd.

Walnut oil and linseed oil are not volatile. They do not have any component that evaporates (trace amounts in the long term, but you don't need to know about that). They cure by chemical reaction, which takes time. The time can be manipulated by adding siccatives (drying agents), or warmth. Some pigments, such as the Umbers, naturally contain drying agents. Others, such as Ivory Black, naturally (may) contain slight anti-drying agents.

Adding oil to the same kind of paint (same oil) won't change the drying time by much. It will make the paint oilier, of course. That may be desirable.

Alkyd is like oil, in that it cures by chemical reaction. However, the reaction proceeds by a different path than with ordinary oil, so that alkyds dry faster. You are unlikely to see straight-alkyd paints in artist materials, because they would dry too fast (might as well use acrylics instead). Instead, you will see alkyd-enhanced oils, which have properties midway between alkyds and ordinary oils.

As the alkyd portion begins to cure, it become sticky. This can be deceptive, since the oil portion has not proceeded far in curing. Still, the combined alkyd-oil is touch-dry faster than ordinary oil would be, because the reactions in alkyd have an effect on the surrounding oil.

M. Graham's Walnut Alkyd medium does not contain any volatile solvent (says the manufacturer). Neither does Gamblin's Solvent-Free liquid medium, which is alkyd-enhanced Safflower oil. But other alkyd-enhanced mediums, such as Liquin and Galkyd, contain a portion of solvent. The solvent may be OMS or something else. Perhaps this is because the kind of alkyd, or the percentage of it, needs some solvent to stay in solution.

When a medium contains solvent (either because it is made that way, or because you added solvent to the oil), then the solvent evaporates quickly. The remaining paint, whether or not it has alkyd, will seem to "dry" quickly. Actually, it has merely become more viscous, because the solvent evaporated. It is not even close to curing. You still have to wait for the oil (with or without alkyd) to cure, or at least be touch-dry before continuing.

Alkyd is sometimes added to a medium for better handling properties, or stronger paint film, rather than for its curing time.

If you like to work slowly, and do a lot of blending, then alkyd-enhanced mediums might not work well for you. Also, you will need to clean brushes sooner.

I prefer to add some siccative to ordinary paint or to non-alkyd mediums (if I use them). CoZiCa works for me. My observation is that the siccative does not make the curing oil go through an extended sticky phase. Instead, the paint will become noticeably less fluid, like a gel.

You can use both alkyd and siccative. In fact, I believe that some of the pre-packaged alkyd paints have both.

As for fat over lean: I'm not so sure that's important, if you paint in very thin layers on a rigid panel. Don't forget that when solvent evaporates from a "lean" mixture, the result is just as fat as if there were no solvent. But I am no expert on this.

Also consider using a gel medium. I use Gamblin's Solvent-Free Gel, which comes in a tube, like paint. I add a touch of siccative (just a touch), and then I have a low-cost medium that can slightly dilute other paints, and also make them dry faster. The gel isn't for impasto. It will hold brush strokes, but can be brushed thinly if you like. By adding the siccative only to the gel, and maybe to the White, I don't cause the more expensive colors on my palette to set faster. Graham doesn't make a walnut gel, but you can mix the oils.

Note that painting style makes a very big difference. Those who do alla prima, wet-on-wet, and multiple (dried) layers with transparency, will have different needs.

@john: Incidentally, I looked at your very fine gallery. Even your first oil painting has a watercolor look about it (IMHO). Given your expertise in watercolors, it's not clear why you would bother with oils, unless it's a matter of rounding out your talents.

john
03-02-2019, 06:48 PM
I have heard of linseed oil yellowing over time but not alkyds. Iíve painted with linseed oil, Liquin and Galkyd and havenít noticed any perceptible yellowing of any paintings, some of which are 20+ years old. I wouldnít get too caught up or scared by some of the technical discussions here, which tend to exaggerate potential problems. BTW, you should avoid oil of newt at all costs.

Yeah, I'm a technical and somewhat OCD person so I sometimes get bogged down in details. I've also used some "non-yellowing" coatings on my twenty year old water colors that yellowed.

On my current painting I already wish that the white cloud highlights were whiter, and I did not use any medium at all. I guess my main worry is some yellowing of the whites and greening of blues.

So anyhow, going forward, I'm only using Gamsol and walnut oil. Putting away all the other stuff. Keep three paintings going so I'm not worried about drying time, or get the psychological boom-bust of working on one at a time. Unless someone has a better idea. :)


@john: Incidentally, I looked at your very fine gallery. Even your first oil painting has a watercolor look about it (IMHO). Given your expertise in watercolors, it's not clear why you would bother with oils, unless it's a matter of rounding out your talents.

Thanks Pinguino. Yes part of it is that I like experimenting with different stuff but the main reason I want to use oil now is just that I like the look of my three oil landscapes better than my watercolors. Yes I must reluctantly admit that oil paints have a certain something over watercolor. Never thought I would think that.

AnnieA
03-02-2019, 06:49 PM
Here are two things that I wish someone had told me a long time ago:
1) Don't thin your paint with solvent alone. If you use only solvent, there's a tendency for the paint to not adhere to the canvas as well and the finished surface will often have a matte look. If you use too much solvent, the paint becomes underbound, which means the pigment can actually turn into a sort of powder and come off of the canvas. You don't want that! Instead, use a little bit of additional oil to loosen up the paint if you need to. Or, a medium thats a 50:50 mixture of oil and solvent.
2) Many problems are caused by canvases prepared with gesso that's too absorbent. This is particularly a problem with cheaper canvases and boards. It can mean that it's almost impossible to get the paint to lay down properly. Although I've been painting for a while, this is a issue I've only recently realized has been the source of many problems for me. Coating the store-bought canvas with another layer of gesso seems to help, but the success of doing this may depend on the quality of the gesso. One solution that RichardP just recently suggested is to apply a coat of transparent gesso, as it's made with silica, which isn't as absorbent. I pass this suggestion along with the caveat that I haven't yet tried it, but I have no reason to doubt what RichardP told me.

I know your question was about use of mediums and #2 above was about gesso. But I think you'll find that having the right surface to paint on can solve a common major problem right from the start, and thereby reduce the need to use medium to try to solve that problem during painting. And most importantly, will make the painting process far easier and pleasant.

Also, John, one of the major sources of confusion for newbies is that most advice for new painters is based on an individual's painting technique (impasto, alla prima, indirect, layered, etc). Each technique can use very different mediums and approaches. I know this had me very, very confused at the beginning because so much of the advice I saw seemed contradictory. If you know what technique you want to use, and let people know that when you ask questions, you may be able to save yourself a lot of confusion (although you still may get advice based on the responder's technique rather than the one you want to pursue on occasion).

If you don't know what technique you want to use, I suggest the indirect method (but not going so far as to use glazing) at the beginning, as that would be the easiest approach. The indirect method in general means that you don't complete the painting all in one session (alla prima, or wet-in-wet) but in several layers, generally letting the layers dry in between. This thread may be helpful: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=137507...but if you search here at WC or google "indirect painting" you'll find lots of info.

john
03-02-2019, 07:28 PM
Thank you AnnieA, that's very helpful. I'm currently liking painting on gesso coated mdf panels. Regular Liquitex acrylic gesso. I assume the oil doesn't sink in too much as it might with some canvas.

Yes, I paint indirectly, in layers right now. I want to try alla prima.

Thanks everyone for the knowledge.

sidbledsoe
03-02-2019, 08:18 PM
I use OMS alone, no oil, it is the greatest medium in the world.
Only very little is needed, it works better than anything else.

Delofasht
03-02-2019, 09:43 PM
Just Walnut oil as a medium for me... I have used other things, and still play around and really enjoy them, but oil does everything I need. Notes: I paint in panels not canvas, primed with handmade gesso, not acrylic gesso with unknown proportions of additives.

MarcF
03-02-2019, 09:53 PM
I use OMS alone, no oil, it is the greatest medium in the world.
Only very little is needed, it works better than anything else.
This is what I've been doing as well - but I have trouble controlling the consistency of the paint. It's really easy to use too much and then you have a thin wash to paint with. So maybe it's better to mix it in a container before you put it on the palette? I'm a new painter and don't really know what I'm doing. Learning by trial and a lot of error. And YT of course.

Harold Roth
03-03-2019, 03:13 AM
Yes part of it is that I like experimenting with different stuff but the main reason I want to use oil now is just that I like the look of my three oil landscapes better than my watercolors. Yes I must reluctantly admit that oil paints have a certain something over watercolor. Never thought I would think that.
For me, the main thing oil has over watercolor is that you can paint over things. You don't have to reserve white spaces or mask anything; you can just put some white (or other color) there. Such a relief. I also think it is easier to capture a feeling of depth with oils; watercolor feels right on the surface in comparison. I do miss watercolor's granulation, and there are not as many pigments available in oil as there are in watercolor. After spending maybe a year not doing any watercolor, now I switch back and forth. My watercolor painting style has really changed for the better. I paint wet in wet now and use a lot of darks.

I too dislike the smell of linseed oil. I am okay to use paints with it in there, but not as a medium.

I also got pretty overwhelmed with all the mediums when I came to oils. I bought some of those specialty mediums created from old recipes and whatnot, some with lead and eye of newt. I also made some. But in the end I decided all I wanted to use was plain walnut oil. I have bottles of the stuff, but I have not found that it goes rancid. Mostly I am using either washed walnut oil from Art Treehouse (which I feel like is more runny than regular walnut oil, and runny/slippery is what I want) or a big bottle of refined walnut oil I got from Kremer. I use solvent (d-limonene) only to clean my palette and occasionally a really clogged brush; I usually use just safflower oil to clean brushes. Instead of worrying about drying, like you I have a bunch of paintings in rotation, but I also choose naturally fast-drying pigments, like cobalts and earths. In oils, some pigments dry more matte than others, so don't sweat that.

Someone mentioned walnut gel. There is one that art treehouse makes. You can also make your own walnut sun oil or walnut stand oil.

contumacious
03-03-2019, 05:25 PM
I have heard of linseed oil yellowing over time but not alkyds. Iíve painted with linseed oil, Liquin and Galkyd and havenít noticed any perceptible yellowing of any paintings, some of which are 20+ years old. I wouldnít get too caught up or scared by some of the technical discussions here, which tend to exaggerate potential problems. BTW, you should avoid oil of newt at all costs.

This is exactly what I have noticed over the years. The alkyds start out darker than plain linseed oil, but they don't darken over time, so what you see now is what you will have years from now. That is not the case with linseed and other oils with no alkyd in them. I don't know why they don't yellow more. That is why I use some alkyd medium in glazing, to keep the transparent glaze from yellowing.

john
03-03-2019, 09:07 PM
For me, the main thing oil has over watercolor is that you can paint over things. You don't have to reserve white spaces or mask anything; you can just put some white (or other color) there. Such a relief. I also think it is easier to capture a feeling of depth with oils; watercolor feels right on the surface in comparison. I do miss watercolor's granulation, and there are not as many pigments available in oil as there are in watercolor.

Yeah Harold, the granulation is a great attribute of wc. And yes, the depth, richness and "correctability" of oil is big part of it's attraction.

Funny how tastes change. I started with watercolor because I liked the look of watercolor paintings better at the time. I think largely because of Winslow Homer. They seemed simpler, more colorful, less pretentious and just prettier.

My first watercolors, indeed most of them, were painted like oil paints. I was copying oil paintings and realized early the limitations of watercolor vs oil. Still stubbornly tried to make wc like oil paintings and ignoring many normal watercolor methods. I still don't use wc the right way.

Oil is good for me since I tend to naively bash a painting into submission rather than let it flow with confidence and ease of practice. Watercolor is a harsh mistress that requires a sure touch.

But as you said, the depth and look of oil paintings is just more. The wc paintings seem more shallow. Hard to describe. But the fact that oil paintings can take much more time to make is probably a clue as to why they can be greater.

TomMather
03-04-2019, 10:08 PM
I started out oil painting with OMS and linseed oil for mediums, but quickly switched to Liquin because of the faster drying time. A few years ago I switched to Galkyd because Liquin kept drying up in the bottles for me, but Galkyd can do the same thing. About a year ago, I switched to Gamblinís Solvent Free Medium and havenít looked back. It is very pale in color, helps paints dry faster but not too fast, and has no odor. It is definitely worth a try.

BTW, itís good to try different mediums, brushes and painting surfaces and techniques. Thatís the only way to find out what works best for you. Many oil painters swear by slow-drying mediums but they drive me crazy. I like to work rather fast and hate having to wait as long as a week between adding layers. Last year I did a painting using linseed oil for old times sake, and sometimes a paint layer still wouldnít be dry a week later.