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Dale Roberts Encaustic Painting Demo

Painting with Encaustics: Dale Roberts is one of the world’s best painters of encaustic, which is an ancient medium using hot wax with colored pigment mixed in. What really sets Dale apart is that he uses this medium to create breathtakingly painterly but realistic landscapes and still lives. If you want to learn how he paints, watch this video and learn from a real master.

Understanding Water Mixable Oils

by Will Kemp award-winning professional artist and teacher. 

The Advantages of Water Soluble Oils

  • The joy and look of working with oils without the harsh toxins and fumes found in turpentine and other compounds used with traditional oils.
  • Faster drying time than traditional oils.
  • More time to work with the paint than water-based acrylics allow.
  • Mixable with water, linseed oil, or other solvents to produce different effects.
  • It is possible to mix these with traditional oils and some acrylic paints.

Cobra Water mixable Oils

Image result for cobra water mixable oils

What are Water-Soluble Oils and how are they Water-Mixable?

Water soluble oils (also known as water-mixable oils or water-miscible oils) are oil paints that can be diluted and cleaned with water, rather than solvents. They contain dry pigments (color) an oil binder (usually Modified Linseed or Modified Safflower Oil) and an additive that helps form a stable blend of tiny oil droplets within the water.

Are Water-Mixable Oils real Oils?

Yes they are, water-mixable oils are real oils, they are water mixable, not water based.

They can be mixed and applied using the same techniques as traditional oils but while wet they can be removed from brushes and palettes with soap and water and I’ve found Masters Brush Cleaner works a treat!

How do they Dry?

When water is used to dilute the paint it dries in two stages. The first stage is evaporation of the water, it will then start the second stage, a further curing process, drying by oxidation, which is exposure the air, just exactly the same as conventional oils.

If used straight from the tube or mixed with natural drying oils, water-mixable oils dry through oxidation.

Water-mixable oil paintings cannot be reactivated with water when dry.

How long do they take to Dry?

When diluted thinly with water they can dry within 5 – 10 minutes, when used straight from the tube or mixed with drying oils, they can dry within 1 – 3 days, depending on how thick you paint, the water-mixable oils retain their elasticity and workability for up to 48 hours.

Also, the more drying oil medium you add into the paints, the longer they take to dry. Many whites use Safflower oil rather than Linseed oil as a binder because it is a paler oil, but this takes even longer to dry.

How do you prepare a surface when using Water-Mixable Oils?

If you intend to use very watery washes at the underpainting stage, then Acrylic Gesso should be used as the starting ground to ensure proper adhesion and absorption. You can also use canvases labelled as ‘universally primed’ (suitable for oil and acrylic). 

It is possible to paint on canvases that have been prepared in the traditional way using an oil-based primer if you use the paint neat or mix it with a drying oil medium.

What are the handling properties when mixed with Water?

Thin Washes

Good when diluted with water to a thin consistency, water-mixable oils tend to feel and behave more like watercolor than oil paint thinned with turpentine.

The watery layers are best used when ‘working-in’ an underpainting stage onto an absorbent ground, so the paint ‘grabs on’. The more water you use the quicker the paint dries and it dries very matte.

Because of the inclusion of water, you’ll find the pigments tend to temporarily lighten in color and then dry matte as the water evaporates. The principle is similar to when you cut through traditional oil paint with turpentine for the first few stages of a painting which also creates a matte surface. Remember, it’s the oil within the oil paint that creates the glossy sheen so the more you dilute it, whether it be with turps or water, in this case, the less glossy it will become.

This is easily remedied by applying a final varnish, once touch dry, they are just like any other oil painting and take about 6 months to cure before you varnish with traditional varnishes (With Gamvar from Gamblin, you can varnish when the oil paint is touch dry).

Problems with the thin layers

When you’re painting an in-direct method (multiple layers) the first block-in helps you to establish your tonal range and get an idea of your colors within the scene.

When you’re only thinning the water-mixable oils with water to a thin layer, it’s harder to get a solid tone established in comparison to if you were to do the same thing with artist quality acrylics or traditional oils.
The paints behave more like a student grade acrylic in their coverage and they are not as opaque at this stage.

Pro tip: If you also use acrylics you can block in the first layers with watered down acrylics to establish your tonal range and then switch to the water-mixable oils to work on top.

A few drops of Water for a thicker layer with Water-Mixable Oils

You’ll find if you want to paint thicker than a wash and thin the paint with just a few drops of water, the mix becomes a little bit stickier to work with and I’ve found it’s harder to get a nice flow.

This is when I introduced a medium or drying oil to dilute the paint and extend the drying time.

A whole range of water-mixable mediums are available to achieve a good flow and desired consistency.

So if you think of the paints as water cleanable, solvent free, rather than a paint you only use water with you’ll achieve much better results.


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Dots ‘N Doodles provides fine art materials supplies, classes, workshops, and presentations to art enthusiasts near Astoria, along the Oregon coast and the South West Washington coast. We have art supplies for all levels of experience and interest and we also provide workshops and classes which we do in conjunction with The Astoria Art Loft. We believe it’s important for our local art community to grow and thrive and we work to create new opportunities for new artists every day. We’re happy to share our knowledge with our customers and we provide friendly service to anyone looking to improve their skills.  Dots ‘N Doodles Art Supplies is committed to helping the local art community by providing affordable art materials. We network with our community by informing artists of new relevant products and events, and by offering a collection of helpful workshops and classes. To stay current on our latest classes, products, events, and advice, sign up for our newsletter, or visit our Facebook page.

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