How to Work with solvents as you paint
Turpentine is the traditional liquid that artists use to dilute oil paint, mix painting mediums, and clean brushes. It has been the standard for centuries. Unfortunately, most of the noxious smell associated with oil paint comes from this liquid.
In place of traditional turpentine, we recommend that you use one of two brands of odorless mineral spirits as a solvent: Gamsol or Turpenoid.We strongly advise you not to use regular turpentine or mineral spirits that are available at a hardware store. These are stinky, stinky substances and they aren’t appropriate for oil painting on canvas.
Keep your solvent in two jars as you paint. Use one jar of solvent as a wetting solution to dilute the paint in the early stages of the painting. Use the other for cleaning your brushes as you work and at the end of the day before you clean them with soap and water. Using two separate jars prevents the unintentional mixing of colors.
Never leave your brushes standing in a jar of solvent. The bristles warp and the glue holding the bristles in the brush deteriorates. You have no need to keep your brushes in solvent — the paint on your brushes stays wet for hours. Letting your brushes sit in solvent ruins your brushes very quickly. Keep your brushes out of that jar of solvent!
Oil paint that you dilute with solvent dries very quickly, depending on how much paint you use and the pigments (drying times vary with each color). This quick-dry tendency allows you to create a quick oil sketch that you can correct or use as an underpainting for the final painting. Sometimes you’re happy with this quick sketch — it looks something like a watercolor painting. The effect may be pleasing, but the painting isn’t stable. The solvent dissolves the binder, the linseed oil in the paints, to such a degree that the pigments don’t stay on the canvas. You can brush them off like dust. So you have to add another layer of paint with oil in it for the painting to be complete.
Be sure that your canvas is properly prepared and primed. Painting with a wash of odorless mineral spirits on a faulty canvas causes the oil paint to soak through the canvas. Oil on raw canvas eventually rots.
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