Using mediums with Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour

As the name suggests, water (rather than solvents) can be added to Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour to thin the colour and give good results. To experiment and explore areas such as flow, consistency, drying times and gloss levels, use the dedicated range of mediums created for Artisan.

Artisan Water Mixable Linseed Oil

This is the main binder in the Artisan colours and when added to colour as a medium it reduces its consistency. Linseed oil is the most commonly used medium. It is combined with water or thinner to maintain the structure of the paint film. It is also used when painting in layers to maintain the “fat over lean” rule, where each successive layer must have more oil than the previous one (see below).

Artisan Water Mixable Safflower Oil

This is a paler yellow, which means the paler pigments maintain their brightness. It increases gloss and transparency. Safflower Oil is slow drying and should not be used under faster drying layers, such as those containing Fast Drying Medium, or layers with faster drying colours such as umbers.

Artisan Water Mixable Stand Oil

This is the most durable type of linseed oil, but because of the way it is produced it will mean longer drying times. The benefit of Artisan Water Mixable Stand Oil is that it produces a paler, more flexible film with excellent levelling properties. It is therefore a good glazing medium and can be combined with water or thinner to do this. It also increases gloss and transparency.

Artisan Painting Medium

This is a stand oil-based medium, ready-made from the bottle. This medium thins the consistency of Artisan oil colours and helps if your work involves creating fine details. It also improves the flow and wetting of the colour. It dries slowly to a flexible film and is good for “oiling out”.  Oiling out is the application of an oil medium to a painting which has sunk or lost its oil to the layer underneath.

Artisan Fast Drying Medium

This speeds the drying of oil colour by about 50%, allowing further layers to be applied more quickly. The formulation has been improved and this has helped to wet the colour better. It thins the colour and increases gloss and transparency. When painting in layers it can be used instead of  linseed oil and be combined with water and/or thinner to maintain the fat over lean rule.

Artisan Impasto Medium

This is a water mixable impasto and texturing medium for use with Artisan oil colours. It will maintain the tube consistency of the colour and speeds the drying of the colours by about 50%. For thick impasto, build the texture in several layers, allowing each one to dry and mixing the impasto medium thoroughly into the colour before use.

The chemistry of Artisan colours and mediums is of course different from conventional oils, and different brands of water mixable oils are not necessarily compatible.  We only recommend the use of Artisan mediums with Artisan colours.

The three rules of oil painting

It is important to remember that the three rules of oil painting still apply when using Artisan colours. Ignoring these rules may lead to your work being damaged:

Fat over lean

Think of this as flexible over less flexible. When oil painting in layers, each successive layer must be more flexible than the one underneath. To do this you need to add more medium to each successive layer.

Thick over thin

Thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin under layers. Thin layers on impasto paintings are likely to crack.

Slow drying over fast

Slow drying colours should not form continuous under layers as any faster drying layers on top may crack.

More tips on mediums

Combining mediums

Artisan Mediums can be mixed together. Just make sure you mix them thoroughly and stir before using them.

Making your own mediums

Many artists mix linseed oil and solvent together when painting with conventional oils. You can do this with Artisan by adding Artisan Thinner or water to Artisan Linseed Oil, Safflower Oil or Stand Oil. If you make your own medium, mix the components thoroughly and stir every time before use.

How much medium to add

Mediums are additives and should be used in modest proportions – just enough to achieve the desired result. Too much Artisan Linseed Oil or Stand Oil will lead to wrinkling of the surface, just as it would with conventional oils.

Substituting water for turpentine

In terms of the fat over lean rule, water can be thought of as a solvent for Artisan, but for the best results do not use water. Although Artisan is fully mixable with water, Artisan Thinner has a stronger solvency than water which means that Artisan will accept comparatively more Artisan Thinner than water. Therefore Artisan can be thinned further with Artisan Thinner than with water in lower layers. In addition, Artisan thinned with Artisan Thinner feels slightly better on the brush than Artisan thinned with water. Whether you use water or Artisan Thinner, you can still clean the brushes with water.