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Learning tools for artists


Solvent is an essential tool for diluting paint and cleaning brushes, and there are several options to consider when choosing a solvent. We look at Distilled Turpentine, Artists’ White Spirit, Sansodor and Artisan Water Mixable Thinner. Visually these solvents look the same but they vary in strength. To loosen the body of the colour most, the strongest of the solvents is Distilled Turpentine and it is the most hazardous. Artists’ White Spirit is a petroleum distillate which evaporates quickly and is therefore less hazardous. Sansodor also evaporates quickly, and it is the least hazardous of these three solvents. In fact, it is three times less hazardous than turpentine. Sansodor costs roughly the same as turpentine but it stores well and is the choice of artists who prefer to avoid exposure to more hazardous materials. To avoid solvents altogether, use water mixable Artisan Oil Paints with Artisan Water Mixable Thinner. Solvents are a general health hazard but, if used sensibly, they don’t present a danger to most of us. Always use them in a well-ventilated area and wash your hands thoroughly after use. A quick note: never use more than a 50% ratio of solvent to paint or you risk compromising the integrity of your oil paint.