Rublev Colours® Oil Paint Mediums change the handling properties of paint: flow out and leveling; tackiness and drag; drying time, gloss, transparency, and others.

Oil Paint Mediums

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  1. Oleogel

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  6. Italian Varnish

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  8. Velazquez Medium

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  9. Impasto Medium

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  10. Impasto Putty

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The Best Mediums for Oil Painting

Oil Painting Paste MediumOil Painting Paste Medium
Oil Painting Paste Medium

Oil paint mediums are amendments to oil paint. They contain additives that alter the functional properties of paint. Additives include solvents, oils, waxes, resins, extender pigments, and other substances to change the consistency of paint. The mediums typically comprise a binder and a solvent that make a paint vehicle. Oil paint consists of pigment and binder, but an oil paint medium consists of a binder and sometimes solvent or extenders. 

Oil makes a slow-drying paint consisting of pigments in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by adding a solvent, such as turpentine or mineral spirits (white spirits). Solvents thin oil colors and improve flow. They can also be used as brush cleaners and to remove oil paint from surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, solvents are not necessary for cleaning brushes.

Using mediums in oil painting is not always necessary, and many successful paintings have been created without mediums. Oil paint mediums can help you achieve various effects in your painting. You can alter the texture of the paint, quicken the drying time, increase oil paint’s transparency, and more.

The most basic medium is a drying oil. Linseed oil is often used, but slower-drying oils, such as walnut, poppy seed, and safflower oil, can be used as an oil paint medium. Read Drying Used in Painting to learn more about oils as mediums.

Paste Oil Paint Mediumsand Extenders increase the viscosity of oil paint so that you can apply it in thicker layers. Read Creating Impastos in Oil Painting to learn how to use paste mediums and extenders to build impastos.

Wax Mediums are sometimes used to thicken paint to create a buttery texture. However, using wax in oil paint can lead to problems when it comes time to clean paintings. Read the article Should Oil Painters Use Resin-Based Mediums such as Dammar and Maroger? to learn more about wax and resins in oil painting.

Frequently Asked Questions

‎Why use an oil paint medium?

When you need oil paint to create an effect you cannot otherwise achieve with paint alone, oil paint mediums can modify the paint to achieve those effects. Drying time and viscosity vary between colors — even from the same range or brand. Oil paint mediums can increase or decrease drying time and viscosity. Each medium has unique properties — so different effects can be achieved depending on which medium you mix into your paint. You can thicken paint, thin paint, give it a matte or gloss finish, soften the paint, level out the brush strokes, or give your paint more body and texture.

What medium is best for oil painting?

The best medium is also the simplest. Oil is the simplest medium for oil painting. The most commonly used oil is linseed oil. Viscous oils such as bodied oils (also called "stand oil") add body to oil paint and mediums but may require thinning with a solvent or with an oil, such as alkali-refined linseed oil, to reduce drag when brushing out. Bodied oils also increase the leveling and flow out and the gloss of oil paint.

Do you have to use mediums for oil painting?

Only use a medium when you need to create an effect in your painting that you cannot achieve with oil paint alone. Using mediums in oil painting is not always necessary, and many successful paintings have been created without mediums. If you require paint to dry faster, slower or be thinner or thicker, an oil paint medium is a good choice.

What do different oil mediums do?

Painting mediums affect oil colors differently. They modify the functional properties of paint, influence drying rates, increase transparency, and alter the surface quality (gloss to matte). The difference between one painting medium and the next is how they accomplish these effects.

Can I use oil paint without thinner?

Contrary to what many artists believe, using thinners with oil paint is unnecessary. Oil paint can be used from the tube without thinners or solvents, but without solvents, it may be necessary to change certain painting habits if you are accustomed to using them in your painting.

What can I use instead of solvents for oil painting?

Solvents are not required in oil painting, but they are useful for thinning and hastening the drying of oil paint. Linseed oil and gel mediums are useful to thin oil paint without solvents. Be aware that increasing the oil content of paint will increase the drying time and potential yellowing of oil paint.

How can I avoid using solvents to clean brushes?

The chemists' adage like dissolves like provides clues on alternatives for cleaning brushes. Vegetable oil — any vegetable oil — dissolves oil paint. Place the brush hair in vegetable oil to remove the oil paint. Next, wash the brush with soap and water to remove the oil. Any simple soap, such as Castile (olive oil based) or Ivory soap, without scents and other additives, works well. Do not use dishwashing liquid or detergents to clean brushes, as they are too harsh on natural and synthetic hairs.

What oils can I use for oil painting?

Linseed oil is the most common drying oil used in oil painting. Walnut, poppy seed, and safflower oil are also choices for oil painting. There are different types of linseed oil: alkali-refined, cold-pressed, bodied, and drying oil. Each oil has its unique characteristics and properties in paint.

What do artists use to thin oil paint?

The most common solvents to thin oil paint are turpentine and mineral spirits (white spirits). Other solvents, such as toluene, xylene, Stoddard solvent, etc., provide different properties and can also be used.

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