TYPES OF OIL MEDIUMS OUT THERE
The general or most commonly used oil painting mediums include Linseed Oil, Liquin and Walnut Oil.
You can also get meglips, burnt plate oils, stand oils, blending and glazing mediums, impasto and cold wax mediums, solvent-free gels, damar varnishes and a product called Maroger Painting Medium. But to keep it simple, in this blog, we are only going to look at the first three, linseed, walnut and liquin.
We will be looking at the other mediums in other blog posts but if you want to get stuck into it now Jacksons Art have a very good blog on “How oil painting mediums work” by Julie Caves which was posted on 14 August 2020.
Here at the Workshops, we have stopped using them for beginner students as they tended to load on the medium on the initial layers and end up with an unworkable painting, while other students doing the same painting and omitting the medium could continue with the painting for the rest of the session. So I just stopped using them in the workshops and indeed in my own studio for the most part. I still from time to time use a 50/50 mixture of Gamblin’s Gamsol solvent and Galkd which is a really nice medium combination that I was trained to use. But for the last few years, I tend to just use the paint neat or use a dip of solvent.
The idea of an oil medium is just to give more movement and body to your paint as you build up the layers on the painting, add an additional sheen to the paint and speed up or slow down the drying time of the paint.
Traditionally, Linseed Oil has been used since 1400’s. It is made from linseed and you can get cold-pressed (which is typically a better quality of oil) or refined (which has gone through a heated extraction process), both slow down your drying time. So, remember the “Slow over Fast Rule” / “Fat over Lean Principle” have your faster drying (thinner) layers below your slower drying (fatter) layers. Also, be conscious of the yellowness of linseed oil, which can sometimes over time, result in the yellowing of your initial paint colours.
Liquin is a faster drying medium and does not or should not cause any yellowing akin to Linseed oil. If you are a beginner use caution with the amount of liquin you use to mix the paint because if you use too much your painting can and generally will end up a gloopy mess which you cannot do anything with until you let it dry for a few days.
Walnut Oil is a natural alternative to linseed oil, stand oils and solvents. It can be a clearer and glossier medium to work with and can also be used to clean paintbrushes. Other clear mediums include Poppy Oil and Safflower oil.
Professional artists have been using Walnut oil for centuries and for the history buffs out there, Giorgio Vasari in his book “Lives of Artists” wrote in 1550:-
“…grind the colors with walnut or linseed oil, though walnut oil is better because it yellows less with time..”
You can get a translation of this book which has been split into two volumes, Volume I, Volume II, from the National Gallery of Ireland Shop.
I found both books useful when researching the notes for our Workshop break-out sessions where we would have a well-deserved cuppa after the group had completed their weekly pastel drawing and had set up and started their next oil painting.
In these break-out sessions, I would bring the group through the history of Art, from prehistoric times to current day art and artists. We also looked at various art movements and schools across the globe and painting techniques and materials. However, these were suspended early last year, to keep everyone safe during this COVID 19 pandemic.
NEXT WEEK we will have a look at Easels…