Various Solvents for Oil Paintings

Oil paints are quite a popular medium among artists due to its slow drying properties, enabling artists to manipulate the paint long after it has been applied to the canvas.

If you are planning to take up oil painting lessons anytime soon, you should first familiarize yourself with the tools involved.

You need to think not only about what kind of oil paints you would want to use, but also the canvas and boards, primers, brushes and such, to name a few.

One of the most important materials to consider is what kind of thinners or solvents for oil paintings you would want to use, as the wide variety of solvents available in the market will have different effects on your paints.

In oil paintings, solvents are commonly used to dilute the paint to be mixed with other colors or simply to thin it out before applying the paint on canvas, similar to the use of water in diluting watercolor paint.

It is also used to clean up the brushes and palette after painting, as simply running your art materials under water and soap is not enough to clean it properly. The most common type of solvent used is turpentine, because adding turpentine to oil paint will not change the viscosity of the paint.

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However, since it is made of resin tree and has a high evaporation rate, you should take extreme care in using it, and only use the colorless, artist-grade turpentine instead of other cheap substitutes.

Another type of solvent available to painters is mineral spirits. Made of petroleum with medium evaporation rate, it is not as easily absorbable through healthy skins. Nonetheless, you should take precaution when dealing with any types of solvents by wearing gloves, face mask and such, especially if you have health problems like sensitive skins or asthma.

A variation would be odorless mineral spirits, which is more expensive that the normal kind, but with the added benefit of having some of the more hazardous ingredients removed.

There are also the pleasant smelling circus-based thinners and alkyd-based mediums that can be considered as an alternative to normal solvents. However, you should first check that the thinners of your choice are made from high quality citrus oil without any toxic or flammable substance mixed in.

Alkyd-based medium would be useful for paintings that need to be completed within a relatively shorter period of time, as you can to reduce the time waiting for your oil paint to dry by mixing some Liquin or Galkyd into your paint.

If you have several types of solvents in your mind, test the quality of each but applying a little drop of solvent on paper and wait for it to evaporate. A good solvent should not leave any residue behind, because smelly or staining solvents would not be good for your canvas paintings later.

You can also experiment with natural resins to add an extra gloss to your paints, and it can be useful it drying your paints in a slightly faster time period. However, take note that resins can only be mixed with turpentine, as it cannot dissolve entirely if mixed with mineral spirits.

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