View Full Version : When to use mediums

06-04-2002, 04:12 PM
Do you know when to use the mediums? Also, do you know which medium is good if you are just starting out?

06-04-2002, 06:35 PM
Well Dan... a medium is a vehicle to assist your paint in its flow or application. Much like what water is for watercolors and acrylics.

With oils, there are a myriad of techniques. Some artists paint very thinly, and want to carefully approach the rendering of values, color and detail. Others want to paint thick, make a brushstroke and leave it as is. They want the paint to go on buttery...yet hold its shape.

Various mediums will work to allow you the flexibility to approach using oils in your preferred manner.

Thus having been said, it will be up to you to discover what manner of working with oils will be your niche. You may have to experiment with different mediums.

Some artists work with the pure pigment and its binder medium straight from the tube.

As you have surmized, this is no quick, simply and easy answer. Its as varied and complicated as are the artists that create.

You might want to view a number of paint demonstrations...see what "clicks" with your inclination to try, and then buy what is recommended and give it a go.


06-04-2002, 06:44 PM
mmmmm....What's the easiest way to put it???

Well, I guess it depends on what your painting, the techniques you use.......what you desire in your finished product......etc.

Just starting out.......get you some linseed oil. Practice the "fat over lean" rule: more oil over less oil. Example: you are painting in layers, you decide to do an thin underpainting with burnt umber and turp. This dries, and you decide you are going to start off painting straight from the tube. After this, and you decide to add more color here, or there, over the existing paint: add a tiny bit of linseed oil to your paint....therefore obeying the fat over lean rule. The rule of course being that the thinner (or less oil) the paint has, the faster it dries, so you want your top layer to dry slower than the rest.

I really don't know If that was a good example or not :confused:

Another medium is stand oil (a thicker version of linseed). This medium gives a gloss to the oil paint.

And, of course, there are other mediums and driers out there.

I suggest you get a few small bottles and experiment with them.

I don't know if I helped you, or confused you :D

06-04-2002, 07:51 PM
Oh boy mediums - chuckle.

Here's a tip that I found very useful.

After your drawing has dried , if you just use your
paint from the tube and keep you coats thin by
brush pressure.
You can for your next coat ,just use the paint from
the tube again.
And again and again and ....

Without knowing how you want to work I can't suggest
anything more.

An easy medium is 95% walnut oil and 5% stand oil.
Low in yellowing, but a slow drier.
You can do as linseed oil and stand oil, but this will
yellow more , though dry faster.
Use either very sparingly.

Stand oil made from linseed oil, has very different
properties to actual linseed oil.
It is low in yellowing and much more flexible.
A very little strengthens the coat greatly.
Gloss, is indeed also another property.

There are also the Copals, Resins and Oleoresins
as well as Amber and Wax.
Larry can suggest best on copal use.

G.L. Hoff
06-05-2002, 12:22 PM
This thread is likely to get a number of varied responses, but here's mine. The use of mediums is, in part, a personal preference that should be tailored to one's style and the aims one has for the work being produced. Many master oil painters (perhaps the majority) simply use oil (usually linseed oil, sometimes nut oils) and a diluent like turpentine (or white spirit, or the like) and simply vary the mixture of diluent or solvent to oil as they pile on layers--early layers, much less oil; final layers, much more.

Painters who use stand oil do so because it yellows less than regular oil. But because stand oil is very thick and can wrinkle, it must be thinned (again, with turps or mineral spirits, etc) to avoid unwanted results. Stand oil seems to be more flexible and tougher too, in my experience.

Now then, mediums can be composed of many things besides oil and turps, as you know, and ought to be used, as you say, "sparingly," if at all. There are a huge number of possible combinations, some of which are probably great, some of which are probably very bad. There is a ton of information available about resins (dammar, etc) in mediums, about alkyd mediums, about wax, copals, amber, etc. My suggestion is that you read a good text on materials and methods (Mayer's may not be the best because the information is old) or perhaps buy a video that covers the subject. You can get one at http://studioproducts.com/index.html that might help you in deciding what's right for you. There are others, of course.