An Artist’s Guide To Oil Painting Solvents And Essential Oils

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An Artist’s Guide To Oil Painting Solvents And Essential Oils

Most painters today use turpentine or odorless mineral spirits as oil painting solvents and thinners because of the believe that they are popularly used and are superior. However, essential oils are far more superior and a healthier option as an oil painting solvent than mineral spirits or turpentine. Let’s give you a little brief on Turpentine and Odorless Mineral Spirits before we go on to discuss why essential oils are a better option.

  1. Turpentine

Turpentine is drawn out of tree sap in conifer trees such as pine, fir, larch, where in the sap is distilled to separate the oil from the resin, which creates what we call Turpentine.

  1. Odorless Mineral Spirits

Odorless Mineral Spirits comes from distilled petroleum, to which chemicals is added to help it get rid of the strong odor. OMS is apparently less toxic than Turpentine.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are one of the three main types of oil that is entirely produced through organic material. All the three are mixed together and hence they are soluble in each other. For oil painting, drying and essential oils are used. These three oils are:

  • Drying oils
  • Essential oils
  • Fixed non-drying oils

Let’s discuss a little about essential oils and drying oils so that you can use it in oil painting:

  • Drying Oils

They are produced by pressing fruit seeds and plants. Once they come in contact with oxygen, they become dry and hard. They change their state from liquid to solid and are mostly used as a pigment to make oil paints.

  • Essential Oils

They are produced from plants and flowers through distillation process, and unlike drying oils which is produced by pressing.

Why Should You Use Essential Oils As The Solvent For Oil Painting?

If you paint with essential oils such as lavender spike or rosemary, you will seemingly have better control, adhesion and permanence over your art. They have good adhesion properties and are unlike the toxic fume of turpentine or odorless mineral spirits, which if used in excess can destroy the paint’s body.

If you mix turpentine with paint, the rubbing of the turpentine could break the bond between the pigment and oil. This can make the paint streaky and drip easily. It could further affect the quality of the painting.

Essential oils such as lavender spike and rosemary help to keep the bond between the pigment and oil well. They also help in the adhesion of paint to canvas.

Tip For Testing Solvents For Oil Painting

It is advisable to test the quality of the solvent before use. This can be done by putting a drop of it on paper and then allow it to evaporate. If it does not leave any stain then you can go ahead in using it as a solvent for your oil painting.

Drying Time Of Essential Oils

Essential oils such as lavender spike and rosemary oil have almost the same drying time as that of turpentine or OMS. So in the context of drying, there is not much of a difference between essential oils and turpentine or OMS.

Final Words

Solvents are added to oil paints so that they can temporarily change the way the paint looks on canvas. They are an essential form of medium for oil paintings. To wrap it up, it is advisable to use solvents in a well-ventilated room as they can catch fire easily.

Jamie Monroe

Jamie Monroe

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