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Water and oil

Ready to try oil painting, but concerned about the fumes? Here’s an introduction to your alternative, by Murray Ince
A Stormy Sky at Le Manoir de Gurson , water-mixable oil on canvas board, 10x12in. (25.5x30.5cm). Here is an example of a dramatic sky with a simple foreground.


Beginner’s steps in watermixable oils

Surfaces to use with the medium

Step-by-step painting process to follow

In 1998 Winsor & Newton launched a new medium, Artisan water-mixable oil. It changed my life, and the future of painting for so many people. Traditional oils are thinned with distilled spirit of turpentine and equipment cleaned with white (mineral) spirits, the fumes of which affect a great many people, causing headaches and nausea as well as making equipment cleaning hazardous and not particularly eco-friendly. For the first time, oil painting became possible in public places, schools, colleges, art groups and at workshops; to clean up, all you needed was a little soap and water.

I am unable to use traditional oils indoors as my wife is asthmatic and the noxious fumes of the spirits causes her breathing problems. I now paint in oil at home and anywhere else I like and, as a result, I am now leading water-mixable oil painting holidays all over the UK where guests are free to paint indoors in oils!

What is water-mixable oil?

Like traditional oil paint, Artisan is made from finely ground pigments mixed with linseed and safflower oils; the difference is that the oils have been modified to accept water molecules, allowing for thinning and cleaning up with water. The drying times are the same as traditional oils, depending on the pigment; some dry in just a couple of days while some take a few days longer. This is an advantage over other wet media, as you have time to go back and blend colours wet in wet, allowing you to colour mix on the canvas for at least a day, particularly useful in portraiture. All of the methods used in traditional oil painting can be done with water-mixable oil, including: glazing, which is the application of thinned, oily paint over a dry area of opaque colour; wet in wet; scumbling (dragging one colour over the top of another); and sfumato from the Italian fumo meaning smoke, the subtle blending together of neighbouring colours as used by Leonardo da Vinci in the Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the June issue of Leisure Painter. Aimed at beginner and amateur painters, you will find everything from watercolour flowers, animals and landscapes to introductions to water-mixable oils and miniature portraits, coloured pencil techniques for drawing a still life with just four colours, drawing ideas, step-by-step acrylics and oils, and a scratchboard demonstration of a cat. Find out about the latest exhibitions, books and art club activities and join in our competitions to win fantastic prizes.