12 Oil painting mediums and how to use them

By Nicole Tinkham

12 Oil painting mediums and how to use them

Image taken from Matteo X on Flickr Creative Commons
I’m going to be very honest with you. As a blog writer for Keetons, I know very little about oil painting supplies and the mediums available. There are so many different options with various oils, gels, wax, and solvent. I even went to art school and I don’t know this stuff! As I was browsing our art department, I stumbled across a handy little guide sitting by our Gamblin display. I’m not an oil painter and wasn’t even considering it at the time but it caught my interest anyway. I realized that there are so many supplies sitting right in front of me that I know little to nothing about. So I read the guide and just had to share it in this post. There’s no extra fluff, techniques, tips, or suggestions in this blog. This post will inform you of 12 different oil painting mediums and what to use them for. Simple as that.
1.    Galkyd

What is does: Thins oil colors and increases transparency & gloss. It can also level brushstrokes when used in greater proportions. It is the fastest drying Gamblin medium with thin layers dry in about 24 hours.

Viscosity: High (thick)

Dry time: 1-2 days

2.    Galkyd Slow Dry

What it does: Thins oil paint and extends working time. Using one part Galkyd Slow Dry and one part paint will enable you to paint wet into wet for about a day.

Viscosity: Low (thin)

Dry time: 3-4 days

3.    Galkyd Gel

What it does: Holds thicker brushmarks and dries quickly. It also increases transparency and creates impasto.

Gel/Wax

Dry time: 1-2 days

4.    Galkyd Lite

What it does: Has the same properties as Galkyd except it will retain brushstrokes when used in moderation. It is also more fluid and less glossy than Galkyd.

Viscosity: Low (thin)

Dry time: 1-2 days

5.    Neo Megilp

What it does: Maintains the body of oil paint, increases transparency & flow, and produces a silky feel. It’s a soft gel that is workable for hours. Note: Neo Megilp also gives colors a satin gloss.

Gel/Wax

Dry time: 3-4 days

6.    Cold Wax Medium

What it does: Makes oil paints thicker and more matte. It can also be applied as a matte varnish. Cold Wax Medium is made of pure beeswax and has a thick consistency.

Gel/Wax

Dry time: 4-6 days

7.    Solvent-Free Gel

What it does: Gives paint more flow & transparency, holds the shape of the brushmark, and increases gloss. Note: Solvent-Free Gel is completely non-toxic.

Gel/Wax

Dry time: 3-4 days

8.    Refined Linseed Oil

What it does: Increases flow and slows dry time. Note: Use sparingly or with an equal amount of Gamsol.

Viscosity: Low (thin)

Dry time: 4-6 days

9.    Poppy Oil

What it does: Being the slowest drying oil available by Gamblin, Poppy Oil is ideal for working with wet into wet techniques. As with Refined Linseed Oil, use sparingly or with an equal amount of Gamsol.

Viscosity: Low (thin)

Dry time: 4-6 days

10.    Gamsol

What it does: Thins oils and mediums and is used for studio clean up. It’s reusable and non-toxic, the safest solvent to work with.

11.    Stand Oil

What it does: Like Refined Linseed Oil, Stand Oil increases flow and slows dry time. However, Stand Oil is thicker and colors mixed with it will dry smooth.

Viscosity: High (thick)

Dry time: 4-6 days

12.    Cold Pressed Linseed Oil

What it does: Slows drying and increases yellowing. Note: For modifying colors and mediums, we recommend Refined Linseed Oil or Poppy Oil instead.

I always thought oil painting seemed so complicated with all the supplies needed which is probably why I never gave it a try. However, after doing my research on the different types of mediums I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be as complicated as I made it out to be. When choosing a medium, think about what effect you want in your painting. Each one of these mediums does something different. I think a lot of it just comes down to experimenting with different mediums to find out what you like working with best.

Oil painting is something I knew nothing about but am learning here and there along the way. Tell me, what would you like to learn about in the next blog? Leave a COMMENT below and let me know your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “12 Oil painting mediums and how to use them

  1. This was new information to me. I paint with watercolor or acrylics, but was pleased to have this concise article that educated me about these options. All much different from my oil painting experiences many years ago when there was only turpentine or linseed oil and tubes of oil paints along with brushes in the paint box.

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