What Is Oil Based Paint Good For? – Discover Its Uses and Properties

what is oil based paint good for

What is oil based paint good for? Well, let us first discuss what they are. An oil color, as its name suggests, is composed of oil and pigments. It is the binder that gives the color its name. Thus a water-based paint will have water as its main binder.

The different oils are used above all to make mediums or paint. But, be careful, you can’t use just any oil. It must have a natural siccative power (it must be drying) and must be stable over time (not too yellowing). Forget about olive and rapeseed oils, they are only of interest in cooking and are even really bad for painting!

Therefore, you need an oil “sworn fine arts” which will have moreover, before any use, undergone specific refining, well known by the current manufacturers.

Here are some explanations on the composition of each oil and its specific use.

What Is Oil Based Paint Good For?

We will look at linseed oil, carnation oil, safflower oil and walnut oil. Here are a few explanations to help you choose the right oil for your painting practice.

Linseed Oil Paint

Linseed oil is the oil contained in the seeds. For more than 500 years, it has been considered the most important binder for oil colors. But for it to be usable in the fine arts, the seed must be ripe at the time of harvest. If not, the seed will be used in soap factories or, at the very least, to make siccatives. As for the stems, they are transformed into canvas.

As raw oil cannot be used in painting (it dries very slowly, and does not allow a good dispersion of the pigments). Manufacturers must clarify it or cook it.

Clarified Linseed Oil Paint

She’s been resting in the air for a long time. Exposed to the sun’s rays, it clarifies itself naturally. The end product is thus very pure and as colorless as possible. It has the reputation of being the best because it remains transparent and gives a lot of flexibility to the layers of colors.

It is the driest of all oils, and is best used with dark colors or colors that do not dry very well. However, it yellows slightly over time.

Tip: Linseed oil yellows considerably in the dark, a painting painted in oil and kept in the dark will therefore yellow strongly. Expose this work to light so that it regains its original colors. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the linseed oil bottles in a well-lit place.

Its use:

  • To prepare either paint and medium to be painted
  • To increase the gloss and extend the drying time of the paint film
  • Can be diluted with turpentine or petroleum spirit

Boiled Linseed Oil

It is a process known since the Van Eyck brothers, Flemish painters of the 15th century, considered to be the inventors of oil painting.

The heated oil, receives oxygen and siccatives. Partially oxidized, this cooked oil will then dry faster. Lighter, it looks more viscous and shiny. If you use this oil, do not add any additional dryer because it already contains dryer. They will affect the durability of the paint film by accelerating the ageing process and will cause irreparable burns.

Its use:

  • To prepare either paint and medium to be painted
  • It should not be used in the first layers of paint
  • Can be diluted with turpentine or petroleum spirit

Black Oil Paints

It is obtained by adding a maximum of 1% of its volume in lead (litharge) to the oil during cooking. The aim is to further reduce the drying time. A highly appreciated binder, particularly in the 19th century, it was used excessively. And the consequences are visible today on many paintings of this period (premature cracking, crocodile skin, toad skin or black surface veil).

Polymerized Linseed Oil or Stand Oil

Also called Stand oil. It is obtained by heating linseed oil without exposure to oxygen. In this way the oil changes chemically without oxidizing. The result is an oil that is more fluid, shiny, longer to dry and less yellowing. It is ideal for glazes and mediums.

Its use:

  • To prepare either paint or traditional glaze mediums
  • It increases the brilliance of the colors and their drying time
  • It should not be used in the first layers of paint
  • To be used only in the last layers of paint to make glazes
  • Can be diluted with turpentine or petroleum spirit

Carnation Oil (Black Poppy Seed Oil)

This oil is extracted from the seed of Papaver somniferum L. It is mainly cultivated as a medicinal plant producing opium from which morphine is extracted. It is also highly prized in cooking, both for its composition and for its natural ripe seed taste.

The oil is very clear and fluid. It hardly yellows at all. This is why it is perfectly suited to light colors. As it dries less quickly than other oils, it should only be applied in the last layer of paint, for example to make details. It was the favorite oil of the Flemish painters.

This oil was sought after by artists at the end of the 19th century because, it was said, it does not yellow like linseed oil. However, many of them also complained that it took too long to dry, which caused the dust to stick to the oil. Observations, which are still relevant today.

Its use:

  • To prepare either paint (especially light colors) and the medium to be painted
  • It should not be used in the first layers of paint
  • Can be diluted with turpentine or petroleum spirit

Safflower Oil

The oil is extracted from a Mediterranean plant quite similar to thistle. It is quite similar to linseed oil, with which it can be mixed from elsewhere.

It is clearer and more siccative than the carnation oil. As it does not yellow, it is particularly suitable for use with light colors. It is appreciated by painters because it accentuates the fluidity and brings brightness to the colors.

Walnut Oil

Nut oil is extracted from the fruit. It was much used and even preferred by the ancients to linseed oil. It dries faster and yellows less. However, as its manufacture is demanding and long, for economic reasons, it is nowadays almost no longer present in artists’ studios.