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Painting With Water Soluble or Water Mixable Oils

What are water soluble oils like to use? Find out with these first-hand accounts


Oil painting purists may shudder at the thought, but water soluble oils are here to stay, not least because it enables people allergic to solvents to use oils. But what are water soluble oils like to use compared with traditional oils? What are water soluble oils like to use? Find out with these first-hand accounts from various artists who use water soluble oils.

Reasons for Using Water Soluble Oils
I have been working with water-based oil paints for a few years now. Because my studio is within my house, I wanted to find something that didn't smell of turps. I have worked with acrylics also, but on certain pictures I do not like that flat look they sometimes give a painting. -- Pauline Dickerson

What’s the Difference Between Water Soluble Oils and Acrylics?
Water soluble oils are water mixable, not water based. Big difference. They are real oils with two ways (that I know of) of making them. One is to add detergent to oils to allow the water and oils to get along with one another, the other way involves using different ingredients. -- Michael9

The main difference is drying time; acrylics dry very rapidly and give relatively little working time, whereas water soluble oils dry more slowly, like traditional oils, giving you more working time. – Agatha210

The character of the water soluble oils is very similar to oil based paints. They seem to give you excellent depth of color. You can use the same medium as you would with oils. Or you can use water, each can give you a variety of looks. The spread ability and colors remain the same.-- Pauline Dickerson

Cleaning Up Water Soluble Oils
Water soluble oils are a lot easier to clean up after. – Starrpoint

I especially enjoy the ease of cleaning the brushes when using water soluble oils, no more of that stubborn color on your hands, brushes or clothes, soap and water does the trick. -- Pauline Dickerson

You can clean your brushes with oil, which removes the paint, then follow up with soap,and water. I have been doing that for a long time now, and it really works great. -- R. S.

Drying Time of Water Soluble Oils
The drying time is similar to oils so you have time to work the image to your satisfaction. -- Pauline Dickerson

Drying time depends on what you use. I find if you use the water it dries a lot faster, if you use the oil it takes a little time and stays sticky until totally dry. -- Tootsiecat

The drying time of water soluble oils is not significantly faster then with traditional oils, but it is faster. Since I tend to work a long time on my painting, the long drying time of oils is not a problem for me. -- Starrpoint

I use Windsor and Newton, plus a few others as additions. Mine dry in about two to three days or a week. The most it's taken is two weeks. Thicker takes longer. With the fast drying medium available from Windsor and Newton I have had them dry in a shorter time. -- Michael9

Working With Water Soluble Oils
From what I remember from using standard oils there really is not that much of a difference between them and waterbased except the odour is much lower using water instead of turps. There is a slight odour from the paint but not as bad and clean up is a breeze, soap and water! They also have water soluble oil mediums (linseed) which can be mixed with your oils. I like working with it and its much better for your health. Buy a small tube and try it you have nothing to lose. -- Tootsiecat

Water soluble oils do blend a little faster, which can be a problem when you are shading from light to dark. It take a little work to keep your shading distinct and gradual. I had a little trouble getting the depth of my paintings right, but I think it is more a matter of getting experience with these paints and then a problem with the media. Water soluble oils do seem a little thinner. I use sponges and rags sometimes, and the water soluble oils lend themselves to this very well. -- Starrpoint

You can get by with adding other paints and additives, but it's best to try it out first before you put it on a painting. The "allowable" ratio is about 25 per cent. Better to go under. I have mixed stuff for oil, acrylic, and watercolor with them with no ill affects. Classico Acqua states in their brochures that you can mix any thing with theirs. If you mix regular oils or their additives with them and go beyond the 25 per cent you lose the water-mixable qualities and they are then regular oils. -- Michael9

Colours available in Water Soluble Oils
I have noticed that some of the deeper colors, such as viridian green and colbalt blue seem a little more transparent then their oil-based counterparts. -- Starrpoint

How Well Do Water Soluble Oils Painting Last?
I have only been using water soluble oils for a few years, so I can't say a lot about wear. They seem to be hold up quite well, even the painting in which I mixed water based with oil based (the paints say you can do this). -- Starrpoint

I have gone over unfinished paintings after a few months so far with no problem. – Tootsiecat

See Also:
What Brand of Water Soluble Oils is Best?

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