How to use 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 impressive results. It’s a great alternative if you want to carry out solvent-free painting.

It’s important to remember that the three rules of oil painting still apply when using Artisan colours. Firstly, ‘fat over lean’ refers to when you are oil painting in layers, and each successive layer must be more flexible than the one underneath – achieved by adding more medium to each successive layer. Second, ‘thick over thin’ means that thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin under layers so that you can avoid it cracking. Finally, ‘slow drying over fast’ means that fast-drying colours should not form continuous under-layers, as faster drying layers on top may crack.

To experiment and explore areas such as flow, consistency, drying times and gloss levels, discover the dedicated range of mediums created for Artisan below.

Artisan Water Mixable Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is the most commonly used medium of all. This product is the main binder for Artisan colours, and when added to colour as a medium, it reduces its consistency. It is combined with water or thinner to maintain the structure of the paint film.

It’s 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 product is made up of a paler yellow, which is good to use when you want the paler pigments to maintain their brightness. It’s also a good tool if you’d like to increase the gloss and transparency of your work.

Safflower Oil is slow drying and therefore 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. Because of the way Stand Oil is produced it means longer drying times. The benefit is that it produces a paler, more flexible film with excellent levelling properties.

If you’re looking for a good glazing medium, Artisan Water Mixable Stand Oil can be combined with water or thinner to use when glazing – a great option if you want increased gloss and transparency.


Artisan Painting Medium

This medium thins the consistency of Artisan oil colours, and so is a helpful tool if your work involves creating fine details. It is a stand oil-based medium, ready-made from the bottle, and utilising it improves the flow and wetting of the colour.

Artisan Painting Medium dries slowly to a flexible film and is good for ‘oiling out’ – when you apply an oil medium to a painting that has sunk or lost its oil to the layer underneath.


Artisan Fast Drying Medium

This medium is one for those who like to work quickly. Artisan Fast Drying Medium speeds up the drying of oil colour by about 50 per cent, allowing further layers to be applied more quickly.

The formulation itself has been improved to help wet the colour better, as it thins the colour whilst at the same time increases gloss and transparency. When painting in layers, it can be used as a substitute for 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 designed to be used with Artisan oil colours. It is the perfect medium for maintaining the tube consistency of the colour, whilst at the same time speeding up the drying of the colours by about 50 per cent.

For thick impasto, it’s a good idea to build the texture in several layers, allowing each one to dry, and mixing the impasto medium thoroughly into the colour before use.

Of course, the chemistry of Artisan colours and mediums is 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.

More tips on mediums

Combining mediums

You can mix Artisan Mediums together. Just make sure to mix them thoroughly and stir before using.

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’re making 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 you want to avoid using 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.