Oil Paint Mediums

Most brands of oil paints contain driers in some colors in order to bring the drying times closer to range between 2 and 10 days. This helps to prevent problems with slow-drying colors and is perfectly safe for the paint film when controlled by experienced chemists.

Gamblin Oil Mediums
Fortunately the drying rates of colors are rarely a problem because colors are almost always mixed on the palette and so the drying times tend to equalize to a great degree.

Liquin 
All the Liquin mediums will halve the drying time of oil colors from 2- 12 days to 1-6 days.

Gesso Primer 
 It may seem odd to start the oil painting mediums section with what is in fact an acrylic medium. However, it's widely used as a base coat for art canvasses when oil painting. Comments for gesso regarding acrylic paint mediums apply equally to oil painting mediums.

Turpentine 
 The best known thinner and cleaner for oil paints and brushes. Use the distilled artists version rather than the household version for best finishes on your painting. Traditionally mixed 50/50 with linseed oil for an excellent medium. However, its powerful odor is not always welcome in the house and may be an irritant for some artists.

Low Odor Thinners 
 An excellent substitute for turpentine, in all the areas mentioned above - without the smell!

Linseed Oil 
After turps, probably the best known of the oil painting mediums. On its own gives colors a high gloss. Added to colors it produces a glaze effect. Used 50/50 with turpentine or low odor thinners, it provides a good, general purpose paint medium for oil painting. Slows down drying time. Compared to some oils, it can go a little more yellow over a period of time.

White spirit  
A cheaper version of low odor thinners and turps. Ok for thinning paints for under-painting, but probably not for quality work. Fine for cleaning brushes.

Prepared Oil Painting Mediums 
Varying from one manufacturer to another, a combination of white spirit and other oils to provide a ready-mixed, user-friendly paint diluent. A beginner could use this, instead of mixing their own combination of oils and other additives.

Stand Oil 
A faster-drying version of linseed oil. Reduces consistency of paint and brush marks.

Poppy Oil 
For adding to lighter colors and white. Less inclined to yellow than linseed oil. However slower drying.

Gold size 
Although primarily intended for applying gold leaf, it provides a relatively fast drying oil-based paint medium.

Alkyd Gel & Liquid Oil Painting Mediums 
Alkyd oil paints are well known for their much faster drying properties than regular oil colors. Alkyd paint mediums can be added to conventional oil paints to speed drying time by up to 50%. Can also be used as a glazing medium. Like acrylics, the glazing technique is where a translucent color is painted over another, dry color. The lower one glows through but is affected by the density of the top glaze. Creating misty or smoky backgrounds is a good example of a glaze.

White Alkyd Paint 
Strictly speaking, this isn't a paint medium, but I use this a lot to speed the drying of conventional oils where I want a lighter tint or a highlight, as opposed to a glaze. The white alkyd paint, when mixed with other colors, acts in the same way as the alkyd gel, but doesn't lose the opacity of the color.

Gloss or Matt Picture Varnish 
A spirit based varnish, equally at home on acrylics as well as oils. Dries to a gloss finish and will not yellow or bloom. Gloss and matt varnishes can be mixed to give a satin finish. Can be removed with turpentine or white spirit.

Retouching Varnish 
A thin varnish which can be painted over a touch-dry painting to 'lift' areas where the oil has sunk into the canvas, leaving dull spots. Can also be used as a temporary varnish, say for exhibitions, where thicker paint on a recently completed painting may take many months to dry through completely. Can be removed prior to, or left on underneath, the final varnish coat.

Damar Varnish 
Dries in a few hours with a satin - medium gloss. Removable.
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