Water Mixable Oils

As I said earlier posts, when I started painting I used acrylics.  They are great for beginners. You mix them with water and they clean up easily with water.  They dry fast.

I particularly liked the fact that they dry fast when I started out.  My engineer’s brain liked to paint from back to front.  (It still does but I’m working on it.)  So I’d paint the sky and the background.  Then I’d paint the things that were further away, finishing with the detailed things in the foreground.  This made sense to me.  Acrylics were great because they dried in a few minutes and I could move on to the next layer.

When I first painted with oils I realized that as convenient as fast drying paint is, it also has its downside.  You can’t blend the colors well.  You can mix colors on the pallet, but getting those soft edges by mixing with your brush once the paint is on the canvas doesn’t work well.  Because of that, oil paint became my preference.

As wonderful as oil paint is, you thin paint and clean up with with turpentine or turpenoid. Turpentine is pretty toxic. Both are smelly. For that reason, I tried to go back to acrylics when I first started painting again a couple of years ago.  This lasted less than one painting (I didn’t finish it).

I started doing some research and discovered something called water mixable-oils.  These are oil paints, but they are made with a particular kind of linseed oil that is water-soluble.  That means it can be thinned with and cleaned up with water.  My research showed that opinions vary on how these compare with traditional oils.  Some people say they behave differently.  I would agree that they are slightly different, but I think the tradeoff is worth it.  I’ve been using them for about a year now and I like them.  They dry slowly enough to mix well.  They still smell like oil paint, which is nice.  The colors are pretty consistent.

I’ve tried two brands, Windsor & Newton and W Oil.  Both are pretty good. I might have a slight preference for the Windsor & Newton. There are water-mixable linseed oil products you can buy if you like to thin with oil. You can buy several brands of water-mixable oils online at Dick Blick or Cheap Joe’s.

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