Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville


By using one of each from the three categories listed below, one can create an excellent medium. One equal part of each is a good standard, but you can adjust the amount of each depending on your painting needs. If you are allergic to solvents, it is also possible to use only Linseed oil as a medium and clean up with Baby oil. Then soap and water.

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linseed oil-adds gloss and transparency to paints; Can yellow and become brittle with age; Use refined and cold-pressed versions only as medium.

mineral spirits-petroleum distillate that leaves no gummy residue, is cheaper than turpentine and seems to be less abrasive to those who have reactions to turpentine; Do not use in mediums that include damar because damar is not completely soluble in mineral spirits.

damar-natural resin from a tropical fir tree which is easily dissolved in turpentine; adds gloss and brilliance to the surface of the paint when added to painting mediums; it can be dissolved by subsequent layers of paint containing turpentine.

poppyseed oil- more transparent and less likely to yellow than linseed oil; often times is the vehicle in whites and light colors; dries slowly and prone to cracking.

turpentine- made from pine tree resin, this material should be used in mediums that call for damar; only the pure gum version should be used in painting mediums, others contain impurities.

Venice turpentine- oleoresin from the larch tree; adds to the stability of the paint surface and yellows very little; used for hundreds of years, this is an excellent resin for painting mediums.

safflower oil- can be substitute for linseed oil; less likely to yellow than linseed, but becomes more brittle.

citrus thinner- a by-product of citrus peel liqueur; can be used as a substitute for mineral spirits; speeds up drying time.

Oleopasto- alkyd-based synthetic resin intended for impasto uses; adds strength to thick paints

stand oil- this is a "cooked" version of linseed oil that cannot be used by itself, but creates an excellent glazing compound when mixed with damar and turpentine.

odorless mineral spirits- a petroleum hydrocarbon that can be a substitue for mineral spirits, but not damar; essentially just what the title indicates, an almost odor-free solvent.

Win-Gel- alkyd-based synthetic which can be used for light impasto; must be thoroughly mixed into the paint before application.

sunflower oil- similar to poppyseed oil and can be substituted for linseed oil.

Turpenoid-very similar to odorless mineral spirits.

Liquin & Daniel Smith-alkyd-based synthetic resin used to increase transparency and brilliance in the paint surface; reduces drying time; not recommended for impasto use.

updated 07/14/04

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