Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Painting - Oil Painting

Characteristics - Painting Methods & Techniques - Materials and Equipment - Work Space & Storage - Manufacture of Pigments - Protection of the Picture

Oil Painting
The Use of Turpentine

In order to brush out oil paints and to spread them around or thin them so that they can be smoothly brushed out to thin layers--and for no other reason--turpentine or mineral spirits is added to the colors during the painting. Practice in painting is the only way to learn how much thinner to use. Most painters work it in by occasionally dipping the brush into a small cupful of the thinner and mixing it wih the paint on the palette. The object is to add just enough thinner to serve the purpose, but not to introduce so much into the paint that it becomes runny or that a weakened paint film results. Naturally, a thin layer of paint will dry more rapidly than a heavier coating; therefore, a paint which contains a volatile solvent or diluent will dry faster because its oil content is more exposed to the oxygen of the air. The paint will also set up; that is, it will assume a gelatinous rather than a fluid condition as soon as the volatile portion of the vehicle evaporates. Other than by these mechanical aids, volatile diluents or thinners do not promote the drying action or the chemical hardening of oil.

Mineral spirits is a petroleum distillate made esprcially for [p. 104] paint use and is sold in bulk in house-paint syores. It is also known as " turpentne substitute," "odorless paint thinner," and a number of trade names such as Thin-X. As a paint thinner, a brush and palette cleaner, and all-around studio solvent its action is about the same as turpentine with one exception--it is not a good solvent for damar resin, as noted below. It costs somethng like one-fifth as much as turpentine and is free from the sticky residue that turpentine sometimes has. Both of them are considered safe solvents,a nd because of their low volatlity they are acceptable in normal studio operations.

Mineral spirits and turpentine, which is distilled from pinetree balsam, serve most studio purposes, but many other solvents are used for various industrial and craft purposes. Proper ventilatin when using these solvents is always strongly recomended. Keeping containers covered at all times will also help. Breathing concentrated vapors over even short periods of time can lead to health problems and or allergies. [pp. 104-105]

[Mayer, Ralph. The Painter's Craft. An Introduction to Artist's Methods and Materials. Revised and updated by Steven Sheehan, Director of the Ralph Mayer Center, Yale University School of Art. New York: Penquin Group. 1948. 1991.]



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].