Given that oil paints come with a certain amount of inconvenience (waiting for the paint layers to dry, not being able to clean up using water), why are they still so popular with artists when other paints like water-soluble acrylics are available? Oil paint is fundamentally different to acrylics, gouache or watercolour because it is not water-soluble but requires a solvent (oil, turpentine, paint thinner) to dilute or clean it. Because it dries by a process of oxidization instead of water evaporation it takes considerably longer than other types of paints to dry.
Well firstly, oil colours retain their colour as they dry without lightening like acrylic or gouache paints. And although there’s a little bit of waiting for the layers to dry, I love the way they remain manipulable for a while so that you can work into them and make changes KAWS HOLIDAY SPACE – GOLD. For instance, you can apply a layer and let it begin to partially dry before smoothing and amending it. In other words, it allows for a lot of control. Oil paint has a lovely, buttery consistency that you won’t get with any other kind of paint. And in fact it really doesn’t need to be a messy process as some people imagine.
When you go to an art shop to buy oil paints you will see that they are priced on a rising scale of 1-4, which will be printed on the tube as ‘Series 1’, ‘Series 2’ and so on. This price difference reflects the value of the pigments that they contain. If a certain paint that you want is very expensive (Cadmium Red, for example, which is Series 4) then look for a colour that’s labelled a ‘hue’. So ‘Cadmium Hue’ will mimic the colour of cadmium, but the pigment will be made with a cheaper chemical.
In terms of brands, and as with all types of art equipment, the price really does usually reflect it’s quality and will make a difference to your work, so buy the best you can afford. In terms of the big brands that you will see in art shops, my favourite oil paint is Windsor and Newton’s ‘Artists’ Oil Colour’ range. The difference between the more expensive and the cheaper paints is usually that more oil will be added the the least expensive brands, making the paint less thick and more shiny. I like the Artist’s Oil Colour paints because they have plenty of pigment and are nice and stiff and I like the feeling of them. Next in quality would be the Daler Rowney’s ‘Georgian’ range, which is OK but a little oily and thin. Next down would be Windsor and Newton’s ‘Winton’ range which is cheaper still but too thin in my experience – it’s really their cheap student brand.
This is a new-fangled idea that I have to admit I haven’t tried yet! The Windsor and Newton ‘Artisan’ range is the most popular. These paints are almost exactly the same as normal oil paints and are a combination of the pigment (colour) with linseed or safflower oil to bind them. The only difference is that one end of the oil molecules has been chemically altered so that it binds loosely with water molecules – in other words, it’s an oil that will mix with water. Being water-soluble you can use water both to thin the paints and clean your brushes. They are great for people who find they are allergic to solvents, or who don’t like the smell of turps or spirits, but I have no problem painting with oil-based oil paints and so have no particular desire to switch. However people who’ve tried them seem to speak highly of them. They seem to have a similar feel and finish to traditional oil paints
You’ll find that different coloured paints vary rather wildly in how long they take to dry. I usually find that mixes of light coloured paints take the longest to dry, and darker mixes will take the longest. However you’ll notice other differences between paints of similar colours – for instance I find that Titanium White takes much longer to dry than Zinc White to I use Zinc in light under layers.
The other thing you’ll notice is that the first layer takes the longest to dry and each subsequent layer will dry faster than the previous one. This is because the oil in the paints sinks down and is absorbed by the layers beneath it, making it appear dry to the touch a lot faster.
Every house painting project should have some left over paint or stain. It is a good idea to have one or two gallons of touch up paints available in case the substrates are damaged or high traffic need “freshening” before the next major painting job. However larger quantities should be re-used on other projects, donated to charity, or recycled. Facts about the amount of left over paint in the US: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates that annually nearly 70 million gallons of paint are left over in the United States. Imagine 27.6 billion square feet each and every year ( 303 square miles).
Check the label. Manufactured before 1978 could contain lead, many paints made before 1991 could contain mercury. Both materials should be listed on the paint label. Coatings containing lead or mercury should be taken to a household-hazardous-waste collection facility. Recycle it. Some city/municipalities offer recycling programs for old paint and empty paint cans. Water-based, or latex, coating can be recycled into newcoating or it can even be used to create nonpaint products such as cement. Oil-based, or alkyd, coatings is usually used for fuel blending-meaning it’s burned to create energy at a power plant. To find out whether paint recycling is an option in your area, contact your municipal recycling or household-hazardous-waste center.