What Is Oil-Based Paint?

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Oil-based paints are a mixture of linseed, safflower or poppy oil and pigment, which can either be organic pigment or dye-based pigments. Understand the science and method of using oil-based paint with a demonstration from an experienced artist and art supply store employee in this free video on drawing and painting.

Part of the Video Series: Drawing & Painting Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is David Lamplugh and I work for Asel Art Supplies in Austin, Texas. I'm here today to hope to answer the question, what is oil based paint. Well, oil based paint in short is a paint that is a mixture of a drying oil, such as linseed, safflower or poppy, usually used in white and a pigment which can fall in to two categories, the organic pigments or dye based pigments. Dye based are usually transparent. And the inorganic ones are mineral like cobalt or titanium that can be mixed with a paint for color. So here's a couple of examples. Windsor Newton's permanent carmine is a dye based color. It's transparent which means it doesn't lay over other colors very well but it makes excellent glazing and it's a mixture of linseed and a pigment. There are other types of oil based paint commercially available. Some of them you can use to paint a fence or a sign, you know I mean there's all kinds of paint out there. Here's a sign painter's enamel that you can find in art, some art supply stores. This is a, it forms a hard glossy film. Now that's made with the addition of a varnish to regular linseed and then a regular very opaque pigment. Right here is a product by Windsor Newton called Alkyd. This is a modified linseed oil that is modified with an alkaline resin. In essence it makes an oil paint that dries a lot, lot faster. Most oil paints like Windsor Newton can take about nine months to fully be dry before you can varnish and it won't crack on top of it. Alkyds actually pretty much over night, so very neat product from them. Other companies have alkaline resins you can add to speed up drying time so that's also good. There's also a new, or relatively new, oil base paint on the market. This is a water miscible oil. And it's actually a linseed oil, it's an oil paint or an oil based paint, but you can use water as the thinner for this oil paint. So, some people honestly are sensitive for health reasons to commercial thinners like turpentine. They're pretty noxious things.You need good ventilation to use them. So it's not everybody that wants to crack open a can of turpentine, sit there and paint for hours. You could start to feel woozy and that type of thing. Some people are highly sensitive and this is the product for them. Basically you can use water in cleaning and water to thin the oil paint. The one thing you can't do is use water to kind of re-stylize areas. It won't really work that well. So, that's a little bit about what's commercially available in the arts supplies world as far as oil base paint. Thank you.

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