View Full Version : Oil on paper ???s experts please

12-03-2001, 07:16 AM
Sounds weird but a friend and I were looking into the perils on oil on paper for a friend who wouldn't admit that oil can rot the paper. Okay, no problem there. But what about printmaking? I do etchings, linocuts, collographs etc with oil-based inks. I reeeeeally curious why these oil inks are okay and oil paints aren't? Different oil? Different dryers? Anyone know? I'm mainly curious because I really enjoy doing monotypes on paper with my paints rather than my printmaking inks, something I've been experimenting with lately. The Mayer book wasn't very helpful as it doesn't go into the printmaking inks in detail (only litho inks).

A whole building of artists will appreciate any clarification on this. Thanks. :)


12-03-2001, 05:55 PM
no one has ever called me an expert but your oil paint is not going to harm the paper. linseed oil is most harmful to linen. oil will seep through porous papers and stain paper. that's just oil for you. a stain is usually not wanted so if you have raw areas of paper exposed you may want to sklosh your blobs of paint out on some scrap paper first to suck up a bit of oil out of it, say for fifteen minutes or so. what i would do is size your paper first. use a dilute glue mixture or technical gelatine. you might use one part glue granules for twenty parts water for a size. technical gelatine is good for sizing papers for oil painting use. you mantain the feel of the paper by making the size real thin and watery as opposed to viscous. oil on paper is a good time!

12-05-2001, 08:44 PM
I love painting in oils on paper...I get a thick water color or sketching paper that is acid free and then coat it with acrylic before painting. Many advantages to this...can cut a size on location and I like the way the paint is taken by the surface...not too absorbant. Any comments welcome...I'm still learning.

12-05-2001, 09:22 PM
I completely agree with radaghast.

I have some 20 year old oil sketches done straight on a rag-based sketch paper and they look the same as the day they were made. They aren't brittle at all... a little seepage stain in places , but that occured soon after they were made.

12-06-2001, 02:52 PM
hi folks,

I found some old watercolour paper that I got a few years ago (it was a freebie from a travelling salesperson), I don't know the weight but it is thick.

I've stapled it to a drawing board and masked it off into 6" x 4" to make postcards for the postcard project on Wet Canvas. I've painted the postscards with acrylic gesso, I've two other coats to do before I start painting.

Hope this works :D


12-09-2001, 08:13 AM
Okay, my question is being misunderstood. I'm not asking about painting on paper - it will rot the paper fibers possibly and I don't do this. (unless you prime the paper of course, which I have been known to do until a painting on paper was ruined while trying to frame). Mayer specifically points out the perils of using oils on untreated paper (if you want your painting to last longer than one lifetime or so, which I do).

Question is: Why are oil-based intaglio inks okay when the paper being used is not primed, sized or anything? Is there an essential chemical or oil difference in the etching inks? Thanks!


12-09-2001, 09:11 AM
Tina I don't have any references to hand to check the technicalities but I think this is a matter of degree: think about how thin the layer of ink is in an intaglio print compared to brushed layers of oil paint for example and you get some idea of the amount of extra oil available to penetrate, and subsequently rot, the paper. Litho inks are still made pretty much the same way as oil paints with linseed oil as a binder - you can clearly smell it - but this does not make them the same thing as they have a lot of added ingredients (to speed drying and to provide an abrasion-resistant film etc.) including siccatives and hardeners (resins usually I believe) which make the end result very unlike oil paint and would also account for the difference in how they react to paper.

Jeff and radaghast, it is well documented that linseed oil will rot paper - as you probably know good paper is made from 100% rag, i.e. 100% cotton or linen or whatever, so it stands to reason that anything that will rot one will rot the other.


12-09-2001, 12:39 PM
Ah, resins and stuff... hmmm. Good thought. I do printmaking too but unfortunately we don't have a printmaking forum (yet! it's on the list evidently). Thing is I need to explain this all to a friend who's primarily a printmaker but has started painting oils on paper. She didn't believe some of us when we gasped in horror at her! :) But of course, she's been using etching inks for years.

And of course once something like this comes up I want to know the technical explanations. ;) I now realise that my etching inks dry out in the tins to a very different consistency to my oils dry out on the palette. More rubbery actually. Wonder what etching inks have been like historically though, since oils on paper haven't survived but etchings have. Sorry, just more curiousity!


12-09-2001, 10:14 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

PVA Size by Gamblin Colors is great for painting on paper. I use it on W/C paper all the time. I draw on paper, linen or canvas with ink or chalk and then coat with PVA Size twice. The ink stays clean...the pastels and chalks blend and smear with the size...bonding with it. Over this I paint with M.Graham Oils or Sennelier Oils (they dry slower than W/N or other paints that are made with extenders and driers) since I can clean up with Walnut Oil, rather than toxic Odorless Thinner or Turp.

I am currently experimenting with oils on glass, if you know the best way please email.

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Allan Jameson
12-11-2001, 05:02 PM
I paint alot of miniatures and have been using for many years an especially created paper for Oils made here in Australia called Artec it is quite heavy for paper and has a texture like linen,you can buy it in pads of varying sizes or in single sheets.

12-12-2001, 02:40 PM
Originally posted by sreudianflip
Over this I paint with M.Graham Oils or Sennelier Oils (they dry slower than W/N or other paints that are made with extenders and driers) since I can clean up with Walnut Oil, rather than toxic Odorless Thinner or Turp.
One can of course use oils to clean up after any oil paint if you feel solvents are toxic. You might like to try safflower oil - significantly cheaper than walnut and apparently just as good used in this way.

Not to get off-topic but your M. Graham oils dry slowly because they are bound with walnut oil which dries slower than linseed, not sure about Sennelier though. BTW I'm pretty sure there are no driers in Winsor & Newton oils (or most artists'-quality oils) unless they offer consistent drying time from colour to colour, a dead giveaway.

I am currently experimenting with oils on glass, if you know the best way please email.
I presume this is not for work that you want to last? After washing the glass thoroughly with hot water and a little dishwashing liquid the best degreaser is probably benzene, if you could find a source, but if you don't use turpentine I doubt you would want to use this as it is significantly more toxic. Failing that acetone is good, but wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. In a pinch denatured alcohol works okay but not quite as efficiently and it is significantly less toxic by inhalation.

Hope this helps,

12-14-2001, 03:55 PM
I think there are special resins in etching inks too. At the Bisonte printmaking school in Florence they suggest mixing oil paints with some Charbonnel blanc transparent etching ink. It's a great way to mix any color you want; I used it for monoprints in a small press (don't know if it would work so well with the back-of -a- spoon method of pulling a monoprint, since the ink is stiffer).