This entry will cover:
- a smattering of beginner questions perhaps not answered elsewhere
- variables in drying time
- drying times of Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Paints and mediums
- a focus on the alkyd Fast Drying Medium — fat or lean?
- how to make these paints feel and act more like oil paints (differing preferences and variables)
- practical tips to pull it all together into painting practice
Before We Jump Into Drying Times…Some Beginner Points or Questions
Prerequisites: Fat over lean (AKA more flexible over less flexible), thick over thin, slow drying over fast drying rules of oil painting.
Key: It is better to use as much and no more painting medium than necessary to get the job done and in keeping with oil painting rules. Many artists painting with Artisan oil paints use water only for cleanup or plein air (outside) painting studies.
No, you can’t use cooking oils in oil painting! Also, read this link about drying oils. something just as applicable to water-soluble oil paints.
Know that water-soluble oil paints, which is what W&N Artisan paints are, are indeed oil-based and are not water-based. They are real oil paints. They’ve monkeyed with the oil in the paints and mediums so that the oils in them mix with water, mostly for cleanup considerations so that you don’t have to use toxic solvents (oderless thinners are still toxic!). Water soluble oil paints are still basically pigment powder + oil.
But since they clean up with water, use synthetic and not animal hair brushes.
Vocabulary Note: Other terms used are water-miscible and water-mixable. Sometimes people and manufacturers use hyphens, sometimes they don’t. It’s proper to use hyphens. I drop them when doing web searches.
Student or artist Grade? The Windor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Paints are, in practical terms, in a gray area somewhere between student and artist grade “Purely based on the high grade of raw materials Artisan could be considered an artists’ grade, however, the inclusions of hues and the shorter palette [colors available] means that Artisan can in fact be considered somewhere between an artists’ and students’ grade and is therefore priced accordingly.”
So, yes, Winsor & Newton states that Artisan paints are made to be student grade paints.
Questions On Mixing Brands and Types of Paint: Between water-soluble oil brands, can I mix paints and/or mediums from one brand with mediums and/or paints from another? In the 2001 book, “Painting With Water Soluble Oils,” the author Sean Dye says “the mediums offered by one company are completely compatible with paints from another.” Things change, new products appear. Winsor & Newton say don’t (2017) — “…different brands of water mixable oils are not necessarily compatible. We only recommend the use of Artisan mediums with Artisan colours.” Can you combine the Artisan paints and mediums with acrylic anything? No!
Some variables in drying times:
From fastest to slowest.
- Water (Lean) — Dries 2x faster than if you add thinner. E.g. Imprimatura “stain” layer may dry in 15 minutes. Water causes cloudiness which clears up when dry.
- Thinner (Lean) — Dries 1x faster than paint alone. (Paints alone may take 2 to 5 days to dry.) Yellows less than adding just water.
- Fast Drying Medium (Fatter or Leaner? It’s Complicated, Possibly Leaner, More Below) — Dries 50% faster than paint alone. Is an alkyd based medium so you would use this instead of Liquin.
- Should have enough time to blend.
- Thins colors and increases transparency.
- Can use without linseed oil and in combination with water and/or thinner. (Most seem to have a better painting experience if they use water only for cleanup.)
- Smooths brushwork.
- Resists yellowing.
- Note: In the spirit of K.I.S.S., add either thinner or or oil to Artisan fast drying medium in order to follow fat over lean rule. (More on that below.)
- Impasto (Thicker) — Thickens and speeds drying time 50% faster than paint alone. Build up a thicker impasto layer, letting each layer of impasto dry in between, rather than putting it all down at once or it will collapse in on itself .
- Linseed Oil (Fat) — Slows drying time, the more of it you use, the more it slows drying time. Not as slow drying as painting medium, standing oil, or safflower oil. Is a drying oil.
- Painting Medium (Fat) — Slows drying time more than linseed oil, is stand oil based, and stand oil is a drying oil.
- Stand Oil (Fat) — More durable type of linseed oil, slower drying time then linseed oil. Is a drying oil. Good as a painting medium or oiling out.
- Safflower Oil (Fat) — Used with lighter colors in the upper layer(s) to maintain brightness. Even slower drying time then stand or oil or other oils in this brand’s water mixable oil line. Do not use safflower oil is under linseed oil. Is a semidrying oil.
Is Fast Drying Medium Leaner Than Paint Alone?
According to Winsor & Newton, fat over lean is another way of saying ‘more flexible over less flexible’. Answering the fat versus lean question in regards to the fast drying medium is tricky. Different colors may contain different amounts of oil due to the different natures of the pigments, meaning some pigments have more oils added to them during paint manufacturing. That and other contributing information is proprietary (secret, trademarked, nunya). In conclusion, add either oil or thinner to your quick during medium in order to follow the fact over lean rule.
Add Oil To Fast Drying Medium — The safest way to keep the fat over lean rule is to increase the amount of oil in the form of a drawing or oil or medium added to each subsequent paint later.
Add Thinner to Fast Drying Medium — Adding thinner to artisan quick dry medium will make paint leaner than only quick dry medium added to paint will.
On Combining Mediums, Getting the Paint to Feel and Act More Like Traditional Oil Paints, and Layers
You can combine mediums. First, mix or shake individual mediums according to manufacture’s directions. Then mix the mediums together well. After thise two steps, mix your medium mixture and your paint well.
I see that thoughts on the use of Artisan paintings mediums range from not using any to using a variety, some mixtures, and varying amounts throughout layers of indirect painting (underdrawing, imprimatura, blocking in colors, adding more paint, then glaze layers and perhaps even some impasto).
Some forego all use of mediums and paint with straight paint and are happy with Artisan. They’re probably doing direct painting (like alla prima).
Some use mediums among the layers of indirect painting and so they mix a combination of painting medium, oil, or alkyd (fast drying medium), often in a one to one ratio as a starting point, they add that to their paint, and adjust the ratio and choice of medium for every layer in a ‘fat over lean,’ (from less oily to more) ‘slower drying over faster drying,’ (self-explanatory) and ‘thicker over thinner manner’ (impasto would be used in the final layer). To them, this feels and act more like oil paints.
Some will say to use no more than 20% to medium to 80% paint. From what I hear, this is more likely to avoid the sunken in (duller, lighter) look in dried layers and will decrease the need for oiling out.
Others will tell you that they mix one medium and paint 1:1 (one to one, meaning equal amounts). I personally wouldn’t choose that. Too many potential problems down the road, deep topic.
Others say just a drop or two of oil added to paints makes them feel like oil paints.
Let’s Get Practical
So many differing opinions out there, so let’s simplify.
- Add water (imprimatura) and/or a thinner and/or quick drying medium only to lower layer(s). Many use water only for clean up, others will use water to clean up and only the imprimatura layer (the staining layer that goes over the underdrawing; it’s thinner and more transparent than toning your canvas with a layer of paint). If you use thinner and/or quick drink mediums in more than one layer, use less with each layer. Because fat over lean and thicker over thinner.
- Thicker over thinner — Keep lower layers thinner; apply thicker paint only in the uppermost layer. Judiciously. Thicker impasto layers have to be built up with multiple applications that are dried in between. Use impasto only in the upper layer.
- Slower Over Faster Drying –– Add alkyd resin medium only to the lowest layer(s). Avoid adding thinner or fast drying medium to upper layers.
- Fat over lean — Add progressively more oil in upper layers. Pay attention to how fast your oils dry. See above.
- Nature over nurture — use slower drying pigments only in upper layer(s) rather than under faster during pigments. Refer to manufactures pigment information. http://www.winsornewton.com/na/discover/tips-and-techniques/oil-colour/understanding-the-drying-times-for-oil-colour-us
Indirect painting method uses mulptiple layers, often from four to 30 or more layers. Each layer dries before adding more paint, unless you’re painting wet-into-wet. Of all the indirect painting method layers, many artists will only start adding mediums to their paints after blocking in their colors. Other might add a combination of thinner and/or alkyd quick drying medium to their paint in the lower layers.
That Feel! Adaptability!
Using a combination of Artisan water mixable mediums with your Artisan paint can yield a more viscous mix so you can adapt techniques closer to traditional methods… and your paints may feel more like traditional oils! So, in an earlier layer, you might mix equal parts Artisan thinner and Artisan oil paint.
Since you can’t use Liquin (alkyd medium) with the Artisan paints without having to switch over to traditional oil paint solvents, you might do something like mix equal parts Artisan fast drying medium and Artisan oil paint.
You can also use combinations of Artisan thinner, fast drying medium and oil paint.
E.g. Use a 1:1 Artisan medium mixture to paint; adjust as you go according to painting rules and your painting needs.
When you get to the stage of adding oil, you can use a dropper or paint brush to add just enough oil or medium to make it feel and act more like traditional oil paints.
Loading a bit more paint on the brush might also help.
Another option? Some artists complete the painting up to the point of blocking in colors with acrylics (underdrawing, imprimatura, underpainting with tonal range), and proceed with the Artisan water mixable paints and mediums thereafter.
This Artist Has Been Working With Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oils and Uses Mediums, Explains a Bunch (Not a Painting Demo)
Winsor & Newton ArtisanPainting Demo, No Tips or Explanation
Disclaimer: I do not work for Winsor & Newton nor am I their associate. I do not sell paint products. I am a tenacious digger and beginner, am self-taught, took a liking to Artisan paints, and gather notes because it’s deep in my nature to do so.