Mixing It Up
Mediums are a big deal. Not the medium of oil, sculpture, pencil.
As in mixing in paint, oil and acrylic. Confusing, yes? Depends on the context.
There’s gels (gloss, matt) to mix in acrylic paint. Or add crackle for effect, paste to create collage. Extender or retarder to slow down drying time (acrylic dries quickly). Then there’s the art of mixing mediums with mediums with paint.
My medium drawer (yes, I organize, using clear shoe drawers) for acrylics contains: Modeling Paste, Opaque Gel, Matte Gel, Gloss Medium & Varnish, Retarding Medium, Iridescent Tinting Medium, and Gloss Heavy Gel Medium. Several different brands, which may perform like Pavarotti or Eminem, depending on the effect desired.
Retarders, well, I change things a lot, so I want the paint to dry to add more layers. Glazes to put over layers. I rarely want the paint to stay wet.
Gels are my fave for acrylic. Gives it body, thickness, density. I also paint impasto (thick) often. Sometimes even painting with a knife (palette or painting knife). With the gel and the knife, it’s like spreading butter. Nice.
Then there’s mediums for oil paint. Different story here. Acrylic paint is water soluble, like watercolors (actually, very watered down acrylic can almost pass for watercolor). Oil paint is oil. Oil and water don’t get along. At all.
So oil paint gets diff
erent mediums than acrylic paint. Here’s my oil mediums drawer contents: Liquin Original (my fave), Liquin Light, Spike Lavender Oil, Liquin Impasto, Medium Gel, Stand Linseed Oil, Pale Drying Oil, Quick Dry, Quick Drying Extender Gel, Copal. On the floor is Odorless Mineral Spirits, and in a huge jug, Wax Medium.
Solvents serve as a medium for oil paint, to thin paint or to mix with other mediums, and to clean brushes. Turpenoid, Mineral Spirits, Turpentine (plain, rectified, distilled, pure gum) are the major players. A solvent is the arm for the hand, the tire for the car. Preference depends on if the odor affects you (which it does to different degrees), with Turpenoid the best (I can’t stand the smell of this, ironically), and plain ol’ Turp the worst. Or what you can afford, which is the same ranking.
Contrasting the thickening of acrylic paint, I love oil mediums for their viscosity, the smoothness, again, like butter, but a butter with bounty. Some are drying, which I need to keep working. I know I said I like acrylic to dry quickly; but oil can take ages. An oil painting can easily take six months to totally dry. So Liquin, a drying medium, is my best friend with oil. And I love the body with Liquin. Another dryer with a different personality is Wax Medium, or cold wax. Like a perfect butter, but thicker. I use this often, but I always use Liquin. To top off my Three Faves is Odorless Mineral Spirits. Not too powerful, not too weird.
And now it’s time to paint.