If you’re getting into oil painting, then you might be wondering what mediums are and how you can use them. There are many different types of oil painting mediums, so let’s go over why you should use them and a few of the different kinds there are.

What are Oil Painting Mediums?

An oil paint medium is a liquid that when added to your paint, will change its performance.

This can mean a change to the drying time, viscosity, and also transparency. Different types of mediums will offer different results. For example, some mediums will slow down drying time while others will speed it up.

Why Use an Oil Painting Medium?

There are many reasons to use painting mediums! When your oil paint isn’t doing what you want it to, there are painting mediums you can use to change the paint and make it easier to work with. Used straight from the tube, oil paint can be a little unpredictable. Viscosity and drying times can differ between colors, so paint mediums can be used to level things out.

Working with painting mediums can provide you with more options and possibilities in your artwork, which makes working with them exciting! You can thicken the paint, thin the paint, give it a glossy or matte finish, or give your paint more body and texture. But before you dive head first into working with mediums, it’s important to know which mediums have certain effects on your paint.

Types of Mediums

There are many types of oil painting mediums on the market. We’ll go over a few options here, but know there are many more options out there to experiment with!

  • Safflower oil – this can be added to your oil paint to improve transparency, flow, and gloss while resisting yellowing and slowing drying time. This is especially great to use with pale hues and white.
  • Refined linseed oil – this can increase the flow and slows the drying time of your oil paints. Make sure to use this medium sparingly or you could end up with an unworkable painting.
  • Cold-pressed linseed oil – this is one of the more traditional oil mediums that can slow drying time but will increase yellowing. Just like its refined option, use it sparingly.
  • Stand oil – this is a thickened version of refined linseed oil and will increase the flow and gloss and slow the drying time. Also, interesting to note, colors mixed with stand oil will dry to a smooth, enamel-like finish. Just like the less-thick, refined linseed version, use sparingly.
  • Poppy oil – this is the slowest drying oil. Perfect for alla prima (or wet-on-wet painting), or if you want the longest possible working time with your painting.
  • Walnut oil – this is a natural alternative to linseed oil and stand oils. It can be a glossier medium to work with and can also be used to clean your paintbrushes.
  • Cold wax – this is used to add volume, body, texture and provide a matte finish with a speedy drying time.
  • Turpentine – this when mixed with paint will disperse well and provide a beautiful, even finish. Just make sure you’re buying artist-grade turpentine and are using it in a well-ventilated space, as turpentine is toxic when inhaled.
  • Alkyd – this is a synthetic resin made to speed up drying time. Alkyd mediums mixed with oil should dry in about 24 hours – perfect for those who like to work quickly.
Be Mindful of Overuse

Mediums are exciting to introduce to your process, but be mindful of not getting too excited and overusing them. Using too much medium can sometimes dull down colors too much, make drying time much too long, and in some cases, like solvents, turn your painting into a flat, lifeless, dry-looking piece. To avoid these fates, go slow when adding mediums to your paints.

What Mediums Do I Use?

It’s a tough question, especially when they’re so many different mediums out there to use! But part of the process of finding your “happy medium” is experimenting and playing with the different types available. Not only will this help you work on your craft, but it will make it all the more exciting to do. Oil painting mediums can add so much to your painting. They can elevate your artistic creation by changing the color and texture while allowing you the freedom to continuously work and change your design.

So take the time to understand a few different oil mediums and techniques firsthand. It can go a long way on your journey to artistic freedom and self-expression. After all, at the end of the day, finding the right medium for you is all about finding one that helps you best express yourself and your unique style.

Time to Get Painting!

I hope this has helped you understand mediums used for oil paintings. No matter which medium you decide to use, I hope it helps you enjoy the process of painting! If you’re looking for some oil painting inspiration for yourself or are in the market for some beautiful art to add to your walls, check out my paintings! And, of course, if you have a question about one of my pieces, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for supporting your local Colorado artists!