The Secret of Oil Painting Without Solvents
the smell of turpentine or mineral spirits...
There are ways to avoid nasty solvents.
Use a painting knife
The simplest and and least expensive method is to set aside your brushes for the painting knife. Use whatever paint you have and the knives you most likely have as well. Knives are cleaned with a quick wipe of the cloth. No need for solvents at all. It's easier to maintain pure color. With a little practice you'll soon pick up the technique.
Painting Knife — A blunt knife with a slightly flexible steel blade and no sharpened cutting edge. It is used in place of a brush for applying paint colors, paste, pigments, and so forth directly onto the canvas or painting surface. Between the handle and the blade there is usually a large crank, to keep the artist's hand off the paint surface. Painting knives come in a multitude of styles, shapes, and sizes.
Water mixable oils
I have covered these fairly new paints on another
Walnut Oil With Regular Oil Paint
Use walnut oil made especially for oil painting. Use a drop or two to loosen up stiff paint. Use it like solvent to clean brushes during a painting session. Fill your stainless steel brush cleaner with walnut oil and swish the brush as normal. Squeeze out all the oil you can and then wash with soap and water at the end of the day. Use special brush cleaning soap if necessary. Let the soap set in the bristles over night in stubborn cases. For hardened brushes you can soak in fabric softener over night.
A tip from William Whitaker: After getting soap into the brush, grab the end of the bristles with your left hand and, while holding the brush handle with your right hand, wiggle the brush handle back and forth several times - doing this helps remove the stubborn paint that is close to the ferrule and will extend the life of your brushes.
It really helps to use a creamier oil paint for the no solvent methods. Maimeri, Rembrandt and M. Graham are good ones to try. M. Graham's are made with walnut oil.
The Sporny Solution...with Regular Oil Paint
Traditional Oil Painting Without the Hazards
If the traditional oil painter is willing to follow simple instructions designed for The Sporny Solution™ products, an efficient, fume-free studio environment is assured. All Four Products in the The Sporny Solution™ line up contain NO VOCs, nor citrus of any kind. All three Media – the Light Medium, Heavy Medium, and Time Extender -- are blends of tested, superior professional grade, non-yellowing, highest elasticity, archival-class oil painting materials. The clean-up Solvent is user-friendly, does not evaporate, and can be recycled many times.
“I have successfully used the Sporny Solution for ten years, all through grad school and professionally. I recently started a non-toxic oil painting workshop in my own studios. Everyone uses the Sporny Solution materials, carefully following the easy directions. We have a completely fume-free painting class”.
Laure Williamson, Painter and Educator, Baton Rouge
Chroma Archival Oils, Mediums & Thinner
May work for some. I have tried these
Break the Traditional Oil Painting Rules
As an Archival painting cures, the surface layer stretches to accommodate movement below, allowing the artist to go on and complete their work quickly without harming it, even when complex layering techniques are used.
Don’t Wait For Up To Six Months For Your Oil Painting To Dry
When combined with alkyd based mediums Archival dries quickly on the painting, but it will remain workable on the palette until mediums are added.
The flexibility of Archival Oils allows for movement as the painting dries, cures and becomes stable. Age crackling will not happen to paintings done with Archival.
The Healthier Alternative
Archival Odorless Mediums and Solvents evaporate much more slowly than turpentines so that very little vapor is generated during a painting session. Archival Mediums are based on fast drying alkyd resins which out perform ‘traditional’ mediums and are better for health.
Paint, medium and thinner...see
Calcite Sun Oil...with regular oil paint
the book and make it at home.
"For almost two years now, I have had no health issues with this method. I paint almost daily, I do wear latex gloves when I oil out, but there are no fumes and the results have been fantastic. This is just a bonus though. The fact that it is non-toxic was the main draw for me. Yet, it is not difficult to make, it is far superior to anything I have used previously and the finished surface is very exciting. I can sincerely recommend this book to anyone who oil paints or cares about someone who does. From an artistic opinion, it creates miraculous results. From a health standpoint, you owe it to yourself." Review by L.H. on Amazon.com
Safety and Permanence without Hazardous
The ‘Calcite Sun Oil/ Emulsions” method of Oil Painting is based on the ancient knowledge and materials of the Great Masters, Rembrandt and Velazquez. This NEW, yet ancient method of traditional oil painting allows artists to eliminate the hazardous Solvents, Resins, Varnish and Driers that are so dangerous to human health as well as to the permanence of the Artworks. This method is made possible by the “Rebirth of the Old Masters’ superior oil” with its extraordinary properties. Though the academic level is written for Professional and Advanced artists, one Chapter is written especially for beginning oil painters of all ages. Every Academic educational institution should have this ground-breaking fact-filled manual because of their ethical and legal obligation to safeguard the health and safety of their student artists. Now, every professional and independent artist can choose to use a completely SAFE method of oil painting, while gaining tremendous TECHNICAL advantages over the traditional solvent-resin-drier-varnish method. Additional information is on the author’s websites, calcitesunoil.com and buddyburro.com
He uses Flax Oil sold by
the Barleans Organic Oils.
Update - Apr 7, '09: EMAIL FROM THE ABOVE AUTHOR
"Thank you for informing others of my site and book. I do appreciate your website for its educational information. Just a brief comment about the use of Methylated Spirits; It is Toxic and Hazardous. As you know, Methylated spirits is a mix of Ethanol ( which forms the basis of our alcoholic liquors) and TOXIC additives that serve to make Ethanol non-drinkable . Another common name is Denatured Alcohol. My warning to users is that Methylated or Denatured Alcohol is very toxic if ingested and equally hazardous if the vapors make contact with your eyes or lungs. Goggles must be worn if this hazardous product is used, as well as sufficient ventilation."
You can make your own calcite oil from a bottle of flax seed oil you can purchase at your local pharmacist or health food store. Simply wash the oil in a cleaned and discarded milk bottle with a cup of methylated spirits, (industrial spirit), allow them to separate and pour off the spent alcohol which will separate to the top. Pour the oil a little at time into a shallow white dish and allow to sit in the sun and it will clarify from its natural lovely amber hue to very clear and colorless. Add some ground limestone into that to add body, and mix your pigments as you would have intended. Superb artist's oil paint. You can purchase the book of detailed explanation in eBay, too, for only $20. Check out the web site under Calcite Sun Oil.
See the update just above.
Modified oils and Putty Medium
Sun Oil: Without question the single most important thing you
can get or make. The foundation for a great many mediums. A favorite of
mine is based on Sun Oil and Spike Lavender mixed 1 to 1. This has an
open time of about half an hour used thinly as a couch, can be adjusted
to be tighter with less spike or longer with a bit of thinner oil or a
bit of Burnt Plate Oil. Sun oil can also be thinned with raw oil and
heated to make a variety of mediums in the "Oil of Delft" family.
Expensive to buy, can be made easily in a sunny climate in the summer,
but even in Vermont I can make something useful. The best sun oil is made
from oil from which all the water-soluble fatty acid break has been
removed. (The material marketed by Grumbacher as Sun Oil may have seen
the sun at some point in it's process, but is essentially a mixture of
much slower drying vacuum bodied oils as a single sniff will tell you).
Putty Mediums: A huge family of mediums with wide-ranging
characteristics based on the translucent and adhesive properties of
calcium carbonate -- chalk, calcite, marble dust, precipitated chalk,
whiting -- mixed with oil of varying viscosities in various proportions.
Can be made loose or tight, put in a jar or a tube, or can simply be done
on the palette. Chalk has been found in the work of many older painters
including Chardin, Rembrandt, and Velásquez. Perhaps most importantly,
enables traditional oil painting without using any solvent. For more
detail on this family of mediums and their use, you can go
. The text handout for a workshop I give on these mediums is
Tad Spurgeon Numenist, anachronist, maroon Home page of a very interesting painter, thinker experimenter.
ART MATERIALS FOR A SAFE STUDIO
below can be found at Dick Blick!
(Bob likes Dick Blick so much he has become an affiliate!)
1. A glorious expression of Italian craftsmanship! Blick’s revolutionary series of painting knives are made from black anodized stainless steel with multi-colored ergonomic rubber handles for cool looks and a comfortable grip. These knives are easy to clean and will provide years of dependable use.
2. Safer to use than metal knives, these one-piece molded plastic knives are also economical, durable, and easy to clean.
3. These Loew Cornell Fine Quality Painting Knives are a great value! They feature extremely flexible, trowel-style fine quality blades set in hardwood handles. Made in Italy. I have this set and like them a lot.
1. Blick Blue
Comfort Grip Painting Knives
Detail set of 6...$52.99
Cornell Steel Knives
5 Stars...amazon.com review:
"Any knife painter who loves colour straight from the tube will benefit by studying Coulton's exuberant paintings. His book not only contains over 220 black and white illustrations, it also has 16 full colour plates. Coulton offers 'an enormous range of knife painting techniques', with step by step demos. His discussion of colour is second to none. As an oil painter, I have found his book to be the single most valuable work I've ever read.
His beautiful, powerful knife paintings illuminate the book, as does his warm, intelligent narrative. I love this man.
He was born in Cornwall, England, in 1896 and later made his home in Newburgh, New York. His work is in collections in Syracuse University, the University of Wichita, the Cooperstown Art Association, the Toledo Museum, and in private collections all over the U.S.
Nothing reveals the man and the artist more than this quote from his book, with reference to Egyptian Turquoise: "I have certain still lifes with backgrounds of this colour which I love so much I often just walk around the studio, carrying them."
Coulton Waugh's books should definitely not be out of print. I hope Watson-Guptill Publications will consider reprinting them."
Photos of my copy.
I order a used copy based on this review alone! It arrived a couple days ago and I can report it is well worth the money. Published in 1971, it's full of helpful information. You'll find chapters on 'Tools and Grounds', 'Painting Setup', 'Paints, Mediums & Varnishes', 'Using the painting knife', Looking at nature', 'Color', and 'Demos'. He covers acrylics, too.
Learn the wibble-wobble
and the flutter strokes.
Good for basic techniques. Powell also has videos for sale on his website. I own this book and a couple videos.
|M. GRAHAM OILS|
1. Art Graham took his new colors back to the roots of oil painting in Italy and Flanders by using walnut oil as a binder. Walnut oil has been used interchangeably with linseed oil for over a thousand years.
2. It flows more freely, and has less tendency to crack or yellow. Today it is known that Renaissance masters such as Da Vinci and Dürer generally favored walnut oil over linseed oil.
3. This special medium
was developed to provide a non-toxic, environmentally responsible
alternative to solvent based, rapid drying alkyd mediums. It closely
resembles combinations of sun-thickened oil and natural resins used
throughout the history of art, but with the advantage of being
1. M. Graham Oils
2. M. Graham Walnut
3. M. Graham Walnut
|MAIMERI CLASSICO OILS|
1. Classico oils spread like butter right from the tube and dry to a rich satin glow. The colors are lightfast and highly concentrated, thin well, and mix perfectly. Classico pigments are micro ground with the finest linseed oil for great transparency when glazing, and will quickly become your choice for fine painting.
2. Walnut Oil -
Increases the brightness of colors. It has similar properties to linseed
oil, but it won't yellow as much. Good drying power.
1. Maimeri Classico
2. Walnut Oil
Note: Some mediums contain lots of solvent. Read carefully and avoid.
1. Transform your studio with this
outstanding range of oils! Recognized for more than 75 years as a
manufacturer of fine oil color, Maimeri oils are formulated to give the
artist the highest degree of lightfastness, purity and quality, ensuring
a clean, pure tone.
1. Maimeri Puro Oils
40 ml ...$9.52 - 47.66
|REMBRANDT ARTISTS' OILS|
1. Rembrandt Artists' Oil Colors are
highly durable and are produced in Holland with the highest color
strength possible, using valuable, costly, pure pigments. They respond to
the brush with a buttery feel, and have a noticeable brilliance and color
intensity rarely seen anywhere in the world. The pigments are ground to
extreme fineness in a binder consisting of the purest linseed or
safflower seed oil, resulting in an oil paint whose texture is
exceptionally smooth, creamy, and even.
1. Rembrandt Oils
40 ml....$6.60 - 21.98
1. This soap thoroughly cleans and
conditions brushes, possibly to better than new condition. A little
lathering with water quickly does the job. This highly fatted soap is
made with linseed oil, and is the result of many efforts by a number of
artists over the years. One jar contains enough soap to last the average
painter a long time. Ugly Dog Brush Soap is not recommended for cleanup
of watercolor or acrylic paints.
2. The Masters Hand Soap is specially formulated to remove petroleum-based paint or materials without harsh and messy thinners. It removes dried-on paint with just water. It's non-abrasive, and leaves hands soft. Environmentally safe.
3. This versatile linseed oil soap is an excellent brush cleaner and moisturizer that can also be used to clean your hands. The soap's minimal odor makes it ideal for classroom or studio settings.
4. Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer completely cleans dried acrylics, oils, and alkyds with no damage to the brush head or loss of fibers. It can be used on natural or synthetic brushes. The cleaning solution is effective within minutes for oil colors (hours for dried acrylics), and leaves no oil residue.
This water soluble cleaner is
non-toxic, biodegradable, non-flammable, and has low vapor. It comes in a
1. Ugly Dog Brush Soap
4.2 oz Tin....$14.39
2. Masters Artist's Hand Soap
3. Richeson Studio Soap
4. WN Brush Cleaner & Restorer
For Stubborn Paint
1. Aquasol Waterbased Solvent replaces
hazardous petroleum solvents for clean-up. It quickly cleans all artists'
oil paints, varnishes, inks, acrylic paints, and mediums. It's easy to
use for all brushes, palettes, tools, containers, and surfaces, including
plastic. Completely water soluble, non-flammable, and non-combustible. It
gives out no toxic fumes or vapors, which greatly reduces ventilation
Note — Do not soak natural fiber brushes for more than 45 seconds. Aquasol is not suitable for use as a painting medium.
#115 Xtra Mild Citrus Thinner
is a medium-strength, general purpose
thinner and mild solvent. It is a combination of highly purified
cosmetics-grade hydrocarbons and food-grade essential oils.
is a truly
1. Aquasol Waterbased Solvent
32 oz ....$6.99
|THE SPORNY SOLUTION|
1. Solvent cleans brushes, tools and
palettes. Makes brushes silky and flexible without the hazards of
turpentine. Not for painting.
2. Light Medium for under painting or thin surface.
3. Heavy Medium for finished work, impasto, plein-air. Durable finish, bright colors.
4. Time Extender prevents early
dry-up of paint on the palette. Saves money! Lengthens workable time on
the canvas, as for portraiture or flowing impasto.
1. Non Toxic Clean-Up Solvent
2. Light Medium
3. Heavy Medium
4. Time Extender (not listed)
More Painting Secrets:
BF Jr. Miss
Landscape Portfolio 1
Landscape Portfolio 2
Landscape Portfolio 3
Secret of Painting
Daily Painting Blog
Figurative Portfolio 1
Wild Life Portfolio 1
Still Life Portfolio 1
Digital Portfolio 1
Portrait Portfolio 1
Portrait Portfolio 2
About the Artist