Apr 11, 2009

Oil Mediums and Solvents

Over the many years I have painted with Oils I have had some health problems and I have had to change some of the products I use.
Here are some of the guidelines that may help you is you are painting with oils.
I have used Walnut Oil and found that is very nice to work with.
It has been used interchangeably with linseed oil for over a thousand years. It does have a distinctive smell. It is very thin and is used to make oil paint more fluid. It flows more generously and has fewer tendencies to crack or yellow which is very important!
Walnut oil yellows less than linseed oil and more than safflower oil. It’s good for pale colors and it dries in four or five days. There is a drawback to using this oil, it is expensive and must be stored correctly otherwise it goes rancid.
The Renaissance masters such as Da Vinci and Durer generally favored walnut oil over linseed oil. So it is a good choice.

Poppy seed oil is another medium you can use it is more transparent and less likely to yellow than linseed oil, so it is often used for whites and pale colors. It gives oil paint a texture similar to soft butter. It takes longer to dry from five to seven days, making it ideal for working wet on wet. Because it dries slowly and less thoroughly, you need to avoid using poppy seed oil in lower layers of a painting when working wet on dry and when applying paint thickly, as the paint will be prone to crack when it finally dries completely

Safflower oil which has the same characteristics as poppy seed oil, but dries a bit faster. It's made from safflower seeds. Sunflower oil also has similar characteristics to poppy seed oil. It's made from sunflower seeds.

Refined linseed oil is a popular, all-purpose, pale to light yellow oil which dries within three to five days I personally don’t like the smell of Linseed oil so I have stopped using it. It adds a beautiful gloss and transparency to paints and is available in several forms. It dries very thoroughly, making it ideal for underpainting and initial layers in a painting. If you are going to use this oil make sure you use Cold-pressed linseed oil. It dries slightly faster than refined linseed oil and is considered to be the best quality linseed oil.
If you want to have an enamel-like finish without any visible brush marks you might want to try Stand oil which is a thicker processed form of linseed oil, with a slower drying time it takes about a week to be dry to the touch, though it'll remain tacky for some time. I loved this for glazing. I would mix it with Turpentine and it produced a smooth finish for my glazes.


These are the things we really need to be careful about. I have made it a habit of checking everything out with the MSDS.
The Material Safety Data Sheet is a document that provides information about a given chemical product. It includes the name, composition (chemicals in the product), hazards, first aid measures, fire fighting measures, information regarding the proper steps to take with spills, handling and storage.
You can put MSDS in Google on anything you are using and it will show you the dangers of the product.Just type Example: MSDS for Turpentine.
The manufacturers sometimes gloss over the realities of the chemicals we use every day but we need to be aware and take action on behalf of our health.It is up to us to stay healthy.
Solvents are added to oil paints to briefly change the way they work and for cleaning palettes and brushes. Solvents are also used to dissolve resins, for making mediums. It is vital to use solvents in a well-ventilated room and remember that they are flammable.
Turpentine is the usual solvent used in oil painting. It's based on tree resin and has a fast evaporation rate. It releases harmful vapors and can be absorbed through healthy skin and on through the other organs.
Never use the Turpentine you find in hardware stores because they probably contain impurities. Only use artist quality. Turpentine is also known as spirit of turpentine, oil of turpentine, English turpentine, distilled turpentine, double rectified turpentine, genuine turpentine, or simply turps.

Mineral spirits has a base of petroleum and has a moderate evaporation rate, releasing harmful vapors.
Many artists use this thinking it is very safe but unfortunately it is not. The Material Safety Data Sheet say’s:
The substance is toxic to lungs, the nervous system.
Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
Skin Contact:
After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. Gently and thoroughly wash the contaminated skin
with running water and non-abrasive soap. Be particularly careful to clean folds, crevices, creases and groin.
Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. If irritation persists, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated
clothing before reusing.
Inhalation: Allow the victim to rest in a well ventilated area. Seek immediate medical attention.
Serious Inhalation:
Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or
waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek medical attention. That is not safe to me!
Mineral spirits is less expensive than turpentine. Some people react less to mineral spirits than to turpentine. Mineral spirits is a stronger solvent than odorless mineral spirits. Also known as white spirits.
Odorless mineral spirits (Turpenoid) is based on petroleum and has a moderate evaporation rate. It is said not to absorbed through healthy skin, however checking this out on the MSDA sheet here is what they say:
Routes of Entry Inhalation, Skin, and Ingestion…Ok then it is absorbed through the skin!
Effects of Exposure:

Depression (dizzy, drowsy, weakness, fatigue, nausea, headache, unconscious. Eye irritant, causes stinging, tearing, and redness. Skin irritant causes drying, redness, burning, cracking, burn
Ingestion: Toxicity, lung inflammation or damage, GI irritation (nausea, vomit,
IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. Oh this makes me want to use this product!

Turpenoid Natural looks like the best bet; the MSDS does not show this to be toxic. Artists seeking safer choices, as well as students, seniors and those unable to enjoy the pleasures of oil painting because of problems with traditional solvents, have a new safe alternative.
It is an extremely effective nontoxic brush cleaner and gentle brush conditioner which rinses out with plain water. Brushes are reconditioned when cleaned with Turpenoid Natural. It is non-flammable, does not irritate skin or eyes and does not emit harmful vapors.
It is an effective painting medium when used within recommended guidelines. It is designed for use in oil painting brush basins and is a highly effective brush cleaner and conditioner, even for brushes
with dried oil, alkyd or acrylic paints.Yes I said ACRYLICS!!!!
It is safe for artists of all ages, emits no harmful vapors and requires no special ventilation. Plus it will condition brushes as it cleans and rinses out with plain water. It is nonflammable & noncombustible, will not deplete the ozone layer
Totally safe for the environment!

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