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Oil Painting Mediums

Oil Painting Medium Recipes

Just as watercolorists use water to thin their paints, oil painters must use oil based mediums for the same reason. Use mediums to thin your paints to a desired consistency.

As with other types of paint additives, there are a whole host of oil painting mediums to tempt you… Which ones do you really need and which you don’t and live without?

It’s easy to believe that your painting will be a complete mess unless you use each and every one of them – every time… It won’t. But a little prior knowledge helps as well.

What is a painting medium?

It’s simply what holds or carries the color in your paint. The oil paint you squeeze straight out of the tube consists of two parts: pigment (little particles of color) and medium (clear oil). Different brands of paint, and even various colors within the same brand, often have different consistencies of medium and pigment which keeps them from mixing easily with each other. Using just a little bit of extra medium while you’re painting (it doesn’t take much) will even out those dissimilarities. Overall, you’ll get improved color blending on your palette and a much smoother application of the paint to your canvas.

Through the Renaissance, artists worked with combinations of tree resins, thickened vegetable oils, waxes and balsams. The exact organisation of these raw materials is open to speculation and may differ from one artist to another, and even within the practice of an individual artist.

However, the basic desire to create an oil paint film with a degree of gloss and depth seems to be a constant.

When oil colour is simply diluted with turpentine, it loses some of its body and also appears to become slightly matt upon drying.

If a small addition of paint medium is incorporated into the paint layer, and then it is diluted, the paint film retains more of its original gloss and lustre. This simple step helps avoid a reliance upon varnishing: in essence, the varnish constituent is then built into the paint film itself.

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