Oil Painting Tips: Oil Paint with All the Colors but No Solvents

This page deals with one of the most important oil painting tips: how to enjoy working with oil paints while protecting your health.

Read the health cautions on a container of mineral spirits, turpentine, or any oil medium that contains them: sobering stuff.... I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but I have personally heard of oil painters who have gradually developed chronic health problems.

So stay alert and heed the cautions!

When you dip your brush into a solvent to rinse it off or pick up some of the solvent to thin the paint, the vapor from the turpentine, citrus, and petroleum distillates enters your body through your lungs and skin. Water-based media, like watercolor don't have the same problem. If there are other people or pets sharing the same space, you are all inhaling the vapors.

In the past, solvents used to be very pungent, which was one clue that they were also very toxic. Nowadays we have odorless solvents such as turpenoid, but they still have the same effect on your health. Think of them as a 'lethal weapon' with a silencer. Even if you can't smell it, it can still harm your health.

So what can you do? Well, I have largely switched over to using the recently developed water soluble oil paints.

But if you don't want to do that, you follow these oil paintings tips and use oil paints without compromising your health.

Oil painting Tips: Make Your Own Oil Mediums to Thin Oil Paints

Most ready-made mediums contain some solvent. As a result, they are not totally safe to inhale. But don't worry; you can make your own medium for thinning oil paints safely.

A good recipe is to combine purified or sun-thickened lindseed oil and stand oil.

You want to have more of the linseed oil than the stand oil--say a 3 to 1 or 2 to 1 ratio. The exact ratio depends on how thick you want your medium to be. The, when you mix this medium into the oil paints you get from the tubes, make sure it makes up no more than 25% to 50% of the combination.

You may notice that some oil paints come out of the tubes more oily than others. The ability of each pigment to hold oil differs; some oil paints will need more of your homemade medium, and some require less.

Be aware that sun thickened linseed oil dries faster than purified linseed oil, but it also costs more.

Make sure you follow the 'fat over lean' rule when mixing in your medium to ensure that the painting will not crack.

Finally, when you are ready to clean the brushes, use a non-toxic brush cleaner and follow up by washing them with warm water and soap.

Using this oil painting tip, you can keep all the color options of traditional oil paints (compared to using water soluble oil paints) and also protect your health by avoiding contact with toxic solvents. Sometimes you really can have it all. Why not give it a try?


> > Harmless Oil Paint Solvents

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