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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Can You Do An Oil Underpainting with Water Soluble Oils?

'Together Forever'              12x9        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
I had been experimenting with oil stain underpaintings last month and had a good question from a reader. Have I ever tried an oil underpainting for pastels with water soluble oils? I've never tried it so I didn't have an answer. My initial thought was that while it would certainly work , the results might not be as interesting as regular oil paint. Part of what makes the interesting spider web like drips with oil paint is the reaction that occurs when the mineral spirits evaporates. Would water do the same thing?  I had to find out.

I took out some old water soluble oil paints to give them a try. The results were very strange. The paint didn't want to stick to the paper. It would go on but when I trued to brush more paint on the sanded paper paint would come right off. In the end I was left with this very strange underpainting.

the underpainting done with water soluble oil paint
Now you know I don't like to waste good sanded paper. In this case I had used Uart 500 sanded paper. So I let the underpainting dry and set it aside. I decided to use it for today's tree painting. As I painted I kept on thinking that the results were strange. The paint should have stuck to the paper. Maybe the drips wouldn't be the same but the paint should have stuck! I was a bit disappointed. 

As I wrote this post and had a closer look at the photo of the underpainting I think I know what might have happened! In my haste to try the water soluble oils I didn't remember that they were water soluble......I think I used odorless mineral spirits instead of water. I am not sure that is the case so further experimentation is in order!  I did have quite an interesting underpinning to respond to and in the end that is really what matters!

half way through the painting 
Have you tried water soluble oil paint for underpaintings? Share your experience with us in the comments.

What is happening on Patreon this month
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Gaye Sekula said...

My experience with water-soluble, water-miscible/mixable oils, put me off of them for good. While they can be cleaned up with water, they are not to be thinned with it, which I didn't realize at the time. It took well over six months for those paintings to stop being tacky and sticky. I'm not sure that they wouldn't still be sticky even after all these year. I made color charts so I still have them. I'll try to remember to dig them out and see if they ever really dried/hardened.

So all of that to say I would never try them in any application where pastels are concerned. As a matter of fact, I threw them all away.

Dsl Art said...

I just wanted to mention that water is not actually the best medium for waters soluble oils. They actually come with their own medium and just wash out with water. That might work better for the water soluble underpaintings. Check out WN artisan water soluble medium.