Water soluable oils

It’s been 6 years since I’ve been able to paint with my beloved oil paints due to not having a safe environment for the fumes that happen with oils, solvents (even Gamsol smells strongly to me), and its associated mediums. My home studio is attached to my bedroom with no intervening door so I don’t want to sleep breathing fumes. And my outside-of-the-house studio space is a share space where fumes are, understandably, unwelcome.

Hence my recent tentative steps into working with water soluable oils. Whenever I start playing around with new-to-me mediums, the first things I do are color mixing studies. A lot of them. Here are some old oil painting studies to illustrate how much effort I usually put into a new medium. Each one of these panels is 8” x 16”:

oil color studies 01

So I’ve just this week begun to do this exercise with the water soluable oils. So far I’ve learned that 1) they have a different consistency from regular oils unless you add water-soluable oil to them. And 2) they dry very fast compared to oils. I’m hoping I’ll figure out the correct ratio of oil medium to paint so I can slow the drying time down to where it suits me best. I almost never paint alla prima although if I continue working with the water soluable oils, perhaps I’ll start exploring that method.

By the way, I learned of this type of color mixing exercise from the invaluable book on alla prima painting by Richard Schmid. That book has since gone out of printing and although you can find copies for high $, there’s a new edition out (that’s still pricey). I’ve not looked through the new edition but I would suspect it’s a valuable to artists as the old.

ALLA PRIMA II: Everything I Know About Painting - and More By Richard Schmid