My New Love: Water Soluble Oils

Jill teaches art in Highland Park. Read Jill’s past posts.

For those of you who’ve painted in traditional oils, I’m sure you’re aware of the pros and cons of this medium. I’m very excited about the newer water soluble, sometimes called water miscible oil paints.

Some Pros of Traditional Oils:

Superior blend-ability and a rich, buttery texture.

Slow drying time allows you to return to your work hours or even days later.

A great variety of affects can be achieved with this beautiful and versatile medium. Techniques such as scumbling, glazing, palette knife painting and more can be utilized with beautiful results

Some Cons of Traditional Oils:

Some people have allergies, either to breathing the odor (one of my students had to stop oils and switch to watercolor because of her asthma) or allergies from having the paint touch the skin (gloves can be used).

Clean up of brushes, stains on clothes, floors, etc can be arduous and time consuming.

So now to my new love: water-soluble oils! Some companies have come out with this fantastic and relatively new medium. They have found a way to emulsify the linseed oil with water, so the paints my be thinned with water, without separating or losing brilliancy.

* “Recent advances in chemistry have produced modern water miscible oil paints that can be used with and cleaned up with water. Small alterations in the molecular structure of the oil creates this water miscible property.”

The clean up is fantastically easy and brushes clean effortlessly. I don’t recommend to anyone with severe allergies to linseed oil, but these paints are deemed more ecologically friendly and most are AP non-toxic approved.

That great blend-ability you get from traditional oils is still there. The seven paintings I’ve completed so far in this medium have dried with a lovely, oil rich sheen. Drying time is faster than traditional oils, but still far longer than acrylic paints. So you can usually return to the easel within 2 days (depending on the thickness of the paint) and still modify your work and blend. Definitly within the same day. I actually find the slightly faster drying time advantageous.

One note, this is a new technology, and although I have had no problem thus far with cracking or peeling we don’t know yet how they will stand the test of time. Oils have been around for centuries, although traditional oils notoriously crack and peel as well. In fact, they keep a lot of experts in the business of restoration.

Perhaps no medium is perfect. Acrylics have only been commercially available since the 1950s. A scary thought: what if they all start peeling away at the hundred year mark? Well, let’s hope for the best and trust in newer technologies to come along to find better ways to RESTORE art works.

In the meantime, I wish you a happy time creating!

* Wikipedia

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3 thoughts on “My New Love: Water Soluble Oils

  • I had to stop painting in oils after I “overdid it” in college and starting reacting… nothing major, but the fumes seem to go straight to my head. These days I’m very happy with watercolors, and they’re far more portable. I’ve been getting into linoleum prints, too. Remember those grade-school days? But oh – how far you can take the medium… what fun.

  • Thanks for commenting. I do love watercolor for it’s portability, low toxicity, and easy clean up too. And that transparency is so lovely.
    Linoleum prints are fun, though I really haven’t done that since grade-school! Actually, the smell of oil paint does bring me back to childhood as well because my mother always painted, and she’d let me play around with her paints.
    Isn’t it funny how art is often tied to childhood memory?

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