View Full Version : Adding scent to the paint?

06-26-2005, 04:34 PM
My mom just had her living room repainted and it was suggested that if she added a small amount of vanilla into the paint it'd act something like a wall sized air freshener. She never tried it however it got me thinking about adding in the sence of smell to visual art. I'd like to hear from those of you who have had an experience with this or knows what might work in oil to add fragrance to a piece without compromising the integrity of the paint?
Thanks :wave:

06-26-2005, 04:57 PM
Hi Utah,

Interesting question. I was just reading Gwen Diehn's new book, Decorated Journals (a must read) and she mentioned including scents to paste (for adhesive) to reduce the potential of a bug attack, very common in wheat and rice pastes.

I also use scent in water (for watercolour) but very occasionally.

I am not enough of a chemist to say what would happen with oils, but after all mediums are often natural products that give off some scent (walnut, linseed, for example) so I'd certainly give it a try--in moderation, of course. :evil:

06-26-2005, 05:09 PM
When I was painting glass pieces to be fired, for certain techniques, clove oil was the oil of choice. It was eventually burned off in the firing process but it sure made things smell good when you were painting. It seems that lavender oil was another used in glass painting as well. But like I said, it was burned off.

Mary Woodul
06-26-2005, 06:02 PM
I find this very interesting, but i wonder if when working with mixed media if the scent of all of the other materials would not completely cover it. Something to try. :D

06-26-2005, 10:57 PM
I suspect the scent would be considerably more fugitive than the paint pigments, so wouldn't smell nice for very long any way. :) Maybe worth trying in an artist book, where the scent wouldn't escape so much when closed up.


06-27-2005, 02:03 AM
Hcowdrick- I've never used Lavender oil or Clove oil before. I have seen it mentioned in a few threads and I'll look into it.

Seejay- "I suspect the scent would be considerably more fugitive than the paint pigments"

I believe your right. Even a Skunks spray eventually loses it's potency. A friend of mine owns several paintings created with tar that I've never noticed producing a "tar" smell. The paintings have several layers of some sort of laquer or varnish on top that must keep the paintings from smelling like road repair on hot days.

I think a tar painting could provide a reliable scent for a long time as it could be warmed in direct sunlight or placed in a cooler shaded area. Any more thoughts?
Thanks for the great responces:)

06-30-2005, 06:40 AM
alcohol based scents such as what is used in cooking can be safely added to waterbased mediums. Essential oils can be added to oil based mediums. Careful of unwanted tinting of paints though. The purpose of the scents is to cancel out some of the paint smell especially during the dry process which is why it is used in house paints. It makes both the painting process and the next day a bit more pleasant than the typical smell of fresh paint. The fragrance will not last long though. As the paint dries so does the odor of the paint and so does anything you add to the paint to mask the odor. The fragrance of essential oils will last a bit longer but eventually it too will go away.

09-21-2005, 09:07 AM
You know that candles hold fragrance for a very long time, as does beeswax hold it's smell. Maybe adding fragrance to encaustic wax? A drop of scent oil probably wouldn't affect the mix all that much. An interesting thing to try.

09-25-2005, 05:47 AM
This is a very interesting subject. I use Clove Oil and Lavender Oil quite a lot, but as hcowdrick says, it does burn off in the firing -- the same applies with Aniseed Oil and quite a number of other such oils.

If you have to use Turpentine in your work -- you know what a horrible smell that has -- just add a wee bit of Eucalyptus to it, and it smells great -- takes that turpentine smell away completely, and the Eucalyptus doesn't make any difference to the Turps, or harms it in any way. A lot of my Students are allergic to Turpentine, so we either use Citrus Turpentine which has a gorgeous smell, or we pop a bit of the Eucalyptus Oil in to it. No more stinking Turpentine.

The Eucalyptus could be interesting to add to House Paint to take the horrible smell away. Just a thought.

Val. :wave: