Oil Painting Without Turpentine

Turpentine is a kind of solvent that is often used to thin out oil paints and clean art materials after a work session, among others.

It is a popular choice among painters because unlike other solvents, adding turpentine to oil paints will not reduce nor increase the thickness of your paint.

However, given that most solvents, especially turpentine, can be potentially dangerous if inhaled to touch directly with bare skin, some artists cannot work with it due to their body sensitivity to spirits of turpentine.

Other health conscious people simply prefer not to work with solvents at all. Fortunately, there are other ways to work on your oil paintings without using turpentine, which is discussed here.

One alternative would be to use water miscible oil paints, instead of the regular version. The paints are made from oils that have been chemically treated to be mixable with water. However, you have to take care not to mix it with too much water, as that may change the strength of the paint of canvas.

Also, remembers that the oil paints mixed with water will appear temporarily lighter, and then steadily grows darker as the water evaporates. Water miscible oil paints are not as good as normal artist-grade oil paints, so you need to take this into account if you want to use it in your paintings.

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However, this medium would be a cheaper alternative then buying oil paints, especially if you are just starting to experiment with oil paintings and do not want to spend too much money on art materials for practice.

You could also experiment around with various oil paints to find a brand that you can work with comfortably without needing to add solvents. Typically, paints that have smooth and creamy texture are easier to work with even without the use of additives.

The higher quality brands are not necessarily easy to work with, especially when you choose not to use turpentine in your oil paintings. Sometimes, you just have to look around the medium level brands and still find at least one or two oil paints that can work perfectly fine without being diluted first.

Of course, this will require you to shop around and compare as much oil paint brands as possible to find the perfect match for your work style.

Another option is to make your own homebrew emulsion to be used in the place of solvents. The recipes vary for each artist according to personal preferences, but generally, you can begin by mixing 1 spoonful of egg yolks with 2 spoons of warm glue solution. Add water little by little to get a texture that is not too thick.

Apply your oil paints with this emulsion on the panels. The mixture will set up very quickly and is able to hold even wet oil paint pigments together nicely, even if the emulsion set in as it cools. This homemade alternative to turpentine is not only cheap and very easy to make, but it also eliminates the potential hazard posed by regular solvents.

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