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  • Safe consistency of adding oms to oil paintApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-07-11 17:21:59 ... Most recent comment 2017-07-14 12:36:41
    Oil Paint Solvents and Thinners Paint Additives

    ​Hola Mitra,

    I have been looking for more information about the safe or recommended amount acceptable to thin oil paint with solvent. I'm using tube paint and odorless mineral spirits. In the past I have sketched in a drawing on top of the ground of acrylic gesso on canvas with a brown earth and liberally diluted the paint near watercolor consistency so that it really flows. (I then add straight tube paint or progressively less oms with the paint, and sometimes fatter glazes on that.) But recently I've read oil paint shouldn't be thinned beyond a whole cream milk consistency to avoid problems such as future delamination and breaking down the oil paint film (and polymers?). Personally I haven't seen problems in my paint films, not yet anyway, though sometimes it seems some tinted solvent has seeped through and is visible on the reverse side of the painting- like some stained spots...

    More information surrounding this topic would be appreciated.

    Specifically, are there established guidelines for how much oil paint can be thinned with oms?  Is oms even a good diluent for oil paint, or are other solvents preferred (Essential Oils, Turps, mediums with stand oil, alkyds) especially in this lower layers? If this thinned layer leaves the ground with much tooth available for thicker paint to adhere to, would delamination problems persist. And I've come across the idea that oms evaporates fully and thus doesn't alter the lean-ness of the paint once it's gone, is this true?

    Thank you for any time you can space on this topic!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​A watercolor-like wash is not really recommended HOWEVER if you are applying fatter paint on top of ALL sections that possess this thin layer then you will likely be might try adding slightly less solvent and "thinning" out simply via manipulation of the brush. This may mitigate the strike-through that you are seeing on the reverse of the canvas. The latter tends to occur when the size and/or ground is not adequate and/or you are overly thinning your paint with diluent. OMS is completely appropriate to use for oil paint as long as you are not using certain additives such as natural resins or other materials that are not soluble in OMS.
    As for this question: "If this thinned layer leaves the ground with much tooth available for thicker paint to adhere to, would delamination problems persist." We are not sure what you mean by too much tooth. In general tooth implies that your ground is textured enough to adequately allow for adhesion of subsequent layers. 
    And this question: "And I've come across the idea that oms evaporates fully and thus doesn't alter the lean-ness of the paint once it's gone, is this true?" Solvents that leave no residue do not, in theory, alter the lean-ness of the paint layer. However, one could still potentially overly thin an oil paint layer to create an underbound surface to begin with.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2017-07-11 21:47:37
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    When overly-thinned paint yields a dull, lackluster appearance, it's because the viscosity of the paint vehicle has broken down. When this happens, the envelopment of each pigment particle is lost, and along with it both binding power and the essential optical function of the oil.

    "And I've come across the idea that oms evaporates fully and thus doesn't alter the lean-ness of the paint once it's gone, is this true?"

    Kristin, I was thinking the same thing you mentioned in your reply to this question. In theory, if the thinned paint were applied to a completely impermeable material like glass, one would expect the oil-to-vehicle ratio ​to remain the same after all solvent has evaporated. Since a primed canvas is porous and absorbent, however, and because staining appears on the back of the canvas, it seems reasonable to assume that some of the vehicle has been taken up by the ground and support material.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-12 20:43:22
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks so much for the helpful feedback!

    Thinking about the lackluster- dull sheen- is a helpful way for me to evaluate if I have broken down the paint film with too much oms, though this only is noticable once the paint has dried, no? 

    Do you know of any paint to solvent ratio guidelines beyond which the films tend to break down?

    And I understand your comments how theoretically adding oms is not lowering the amount of oil, thus not making the paint more lean, though in practice is it reasonable to think that adding oms makes the paint more lean? 

    2017-07-12 23:52:49
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Probably, it would be difficult to calculate the precise percentages that you are looking for. There are just too many variables. Each pigment has a different oil absorption requirement. This is the minimum to create a workable paint. However, manufacturers will likely have to include a bit more than this to make a paint that does not require onerously long milling as well as a paint that can be thinned without causing the issues you mention. Each manufacturer will do this to a different degree. The highest-grade paints with the least amount of stabilizers/fillers could probably be thinned to a different amount than those containing far more oil and are chock full of aluminum stearate. Student grade paints, a different amount. Very well made hand-made oils an even different amount. The short answer is no.  It is likely adequate to just never thin your oils more than a thin cream or whole milk consistency.

    Brian Baade
    2017-07-13 11:29:33
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Imagine paint as analogous to a brick wall, with the pigment as bricks and the oil as mortar. Too much water in the mortar leads to lack of cohesiveness, weakly bound bricks and ultimately a failed wall. In paint, excessively thinned vehicle cannot maintain envelopment of the pigment, so there's nothing to stick the particles together. When the solvent evaporates, there might be the same amount of materials, but just like a failed wall where all the bricks and mortar are still there, cohesiveness and orderly structure are lost.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-13 14:32:51
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Little to add that has not already been covered by Brian, Kristin, and Matt. However one way to test if you have over-thinned paints is to use a q-tip and some OMS after the color has thoroughly dried - say two weeks - and then see what degree of color lift you get when gently rubbing an area. If color comes off easily, that's a problem. If it takes some time or work, then at least one can assume that subsequent layers might lock them down.

    Also, keep in mind that the amount of thinning and the appearance of a matte film will be pigment dependent as well - with very small particle pigments requiring more oil to pigment ratio to fully wet out and so likely more tolerant of thinning. Larger particle colors will by contrast appear matt more easily.

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2017-07-14 12:36:41

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