Do you know that the history of oil painting dates back to the 7th century CE when artists are said to have extracted oil from walnuts for decoration of the ancient Bamiyan caves? However, in Europe oil paintings mediums surfaced in the 11th century.
The oil painting mediums are formed by the suspension of different pigments in drying oils. This results in an extraordinary fusion of colors with sharp textural variations. It is usually the linseed oil in which different pigments achieve a fine yet stiff consistency. The grinding process is often undertaken via strong steel roller mills.
Here is an absorbing guide to various oil painting mediums which has been crafted to enhance your knowledge about the same. It aims to enumerate various mediums used alongside their specialties. It has been seen that these mediums are mostly used for changing the transparency, the time of drying, and also the overall consistency.
Primarily most of the surfaces that are used for painting like the board, paper, canvas, or any other kind of porous material have to be primed with gesso. This is done to get the right base. Gesso prepares the slightly toothed surfaces so that the paints can easily cling to it. Additionally, it also aids in limiting the proportion of oil in the pigment, which often results in a patchy effect. Although the latter can still result in a primed surface, generally a double or a triple coating of gesso gives the desired finish.
It is commonly available in black, white, grey, and even clear mixes. The artist picks one as per the requirement. There is an option to add acrylic colors to the same to create a highly useful tone and rid oneself of the sharp glares of the white canvas.
A traditionally popular solvent from the natural resins, turpentine has long been used by many famed artists for dilution of the paints. It is often mixed in a small proportion of pigment to provide a fast-drying color effect which is perfect for both under-painting and giving shape to the general outlines of the whole composition. Artists describe it as an excellent diluent for oils which is often described for a superior quality output.
Turpentine is mostly used as a paint thinner alone or in a mixture with linseed oil. It is also used for cleaning brushes and knives after the completion of the work. A glaring downside is a smell that makes it difficult to work with and often results in nausea or headaches. Another important flaw is that it is not environmentally safe.
White Spirit and Thinners
In contrast to turpentine, white spirit along with other thinners is petroleum-based products. Although the white spirit is as effective as the turpentine, it also has a similar odor. It comes with quick-drying properties and on mixing with the linseed oil; it helps in speeding the whole process of drying.
In contrast to the above two, the other thinners are used as solvents that only replicate the good properties of the turpentine like the dilution of the paint or the cleansing effects, and have a gentler smell. These come in different versions depending on the manufacturers. In terms of price, all are similar and there is no big difference if one prefers an odor-free studio.
As the name suggests, these are soft on the environment and are also free of the flaws that were natural to the turpentine oil, and the flammability and poisonous characters of the other spirits. These come from natural materials so are biodegradable and do not need any special arrangement for ventilation of storage.
These are not very popular and most of them are in the developmental stages. While many users have supported the citrus odor is far more pleasant to the nose, other odor-free variants are also available. These are gaining ground among the artists and are futuristic.
This is undisputedly the leader in the oil painting mediums. It comes in different variants based on their manufacturers like the purified linseed oil, thickened linseed oil, drying linseed oil, linseed stand oil, drying linseed oil, etc. All the variants are said to dry leaving a slight yellowish yet a glossy tinge.
Each of these variants has its specialties. For instance, drying linseed oil is quick to dry but is darker than others, and the purified version helps in the reduction of the paint consistency thereby adversely affecting the drying speed, etc.
Safflower, Poppy, and Walnut Oil
Both Safflower and Poppy oils are paler in their tones and are specifically suitable for creating mixtures of lighter colors. However, these take a long time to dry when compared to the linseed oil variants which is an apparent disadvantage. Additionally, it is known that both are less resilient as compared to other oils. This means that special care has to be taken as they can crack on drying.
In contrast to the above both, walnut oil is loaded with many advantages and has been a popular medium for centuries. But it also comes with a disadvantage- it becomes stale and gives a bad odor over a period.
The Bottom Line
The choice of the right oil painting medium not just affects the work but also defines the ambiance and the mood of the studio. It is thus important to pick them wisely. One has to make tough choices based on drying speed, consistency, odor, and finish.
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