When someone mentions painting art, what is the first medium that pops into your head? For most, it is oils. Oils, as in the old-school, old-master, stinky, messy, traditional oils.
As for me, when I first thought about painting in oils many moons ago, to say I was intimidated was a bit of an understatement.
I was intimidated by the process of using them, the mediums for use with them, the messy aftermath, and of course, I loathed the year I would have to wait for the painting to completely ‘cure’.
Now, keep in mind, I am mostly a self-taught artist. I read up on them, watched videos of artists working with them, and asked a few people about them.
With the bit of knowledge I had gleaned, I went down to the local art store, armed with a small of list of supplies, and geared up to create my first small painting in oils.
Yeah, about that – I am sure a lot of it had to do with the fact I was still unlearned, but I did not enjoy the whole process too much. And the clean-up and drying time? Okay, so I was a bit impatient. And honestly, the fact that I did not enjoy the process as I usually do, showed in my final product – the painting itself. I did not trash it, rather I have kept it for reference.
Traditional Oils, My First Attempt (untitled)
Maybe I did not give oils enough of a chance, I didn’t learn enough about them, I was already feeling negative before I began; it was probably a combination of all three. I pretty much walked away from oil painting after that.
Fast forward to this year. After a great year of tremendous growth for me as an artist, I have began to embrace the idea of change and growth. I know I must push boundaries as often as I can in order to become the best artist I can be – which is why when I came across the phrase, water-soluble oils, I decided to give oils another go.
Once again, I armed myself with knowledge, (a bit more research this time) learned the basics, and set off for the art store with supply list in hand.
That old fear and self-doubt of course hovered in the back of my mind, but I was determined to give it another go.
As for the process of using water-soluble verses traditional oils, there are obviously some differences. You still get to use mediums, like linseed oil and sunflower oil, with the paints themselves, but they are labeled “water-mixable” to use exclusively with the WS oils. As for the paint itself, it is still buttery smooth like TO (traditional oils), and has that oil smell that I love. You can still use the traditional wood, acrylic, or glass for a palette. (I am personally using acrylic right now). In between color changes, I actually swish my brush around in water, dry it off on a paper towel, and we’re good to go. But here’s the kicker – no turpentine clean-up. Yep, I used good, old-fashioned Dawn dish detergent to thoroughly clean my brushes when I was done.
I honestly don’t know if it was because I wasn’t as intimidated by the clean-up and drying time at the end, but I actually got into them this time – and fell in love with these oils.
My Second Attempt at Oil Painting, this time using water-soluble oils
My completed painting, “The Lost House”, was dry to touch within about two weeks. And the finish? Oh my, I love the luxurious look of oil paint on a canvas.
I still have a long way to go, a lot more to learn (do you ever really stop learning?), and I am far from being a master, but I am definitely digging oil painting now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my water-colors, acrylic, and ink, but I will be adding ‘oils’ to my list of mediums I work in.