Tag Archive for solvents

How I paint: mediums and thinners

This photo shows painting cups in front of my custom-made palette.  I always use this selection of mediums and solvents when I paint. In the left-most container is my medium.  My medium is very drying which means, among other things, that it is very rough on brush heads.  Not only does it dry out the brush hairs,…

What is mineral spirits

What is mineral spirits and how is it used in oil painting? Mineral spirits, or white spirits, is a petroleum-derived solvent. It is distilled from crude oil, and is related to kerosene. Mineral spirits and paint thinner are essentially the same thing. Paint thinner is less refined than mineral spirits and has undesirable byproducts, and, therefore, costs less.…

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Tom Hudson

Someone recently asked about “oil of lavender.”  Oil of spike is an essential oil distilled from lavender flowers. It has been used in oil painting for hundreds of years. Of the three most commonly used solvents, oil of spike (spike lavender) is the most powerful, followed by turpentine. Mineral spirits is the mildest.

Oil of spike lavender has a very pungent smell that many find attractive. It’s used, after all, in perfume and aroma therapy. It doesn’t irritate the skin as turpentine sometimes can. Artists bothered by turpentine or even odorless mineral spirits, can use it as an effective replacement. Its effect in painting is closer to that of turpentine than that of mineral spirits. It dries rapidly and leaves no undesired residue. I use it, but rarely. Its solvent power is too strong. I paint in layers and it can effect existing paint layers if they are not thoroughly dry. Plus, it’s more expensive than turpentine.

But it can be a wonderful addition to mediums. I sometimes substitute it for turpentine in mine. It can be an excellent corrective when combined with ingredients that are too thick, like stand oil or sun-dried oil.

If you are sensitive to turpentine, try oil of spike. It’s available at most art material suppliers. When used, it fills the studio with its very pleasant aroma.