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Switching to Water Mixable Oils from Watercolor

May 23rd, 2014

Switching to Water Mixable Oils from Watercolor

For over forty years I have worked in watercolor, and always shied away from oils because of the chemicals involved, the odor, and the expense of purchasing all the supplies. But since I love new challenges, I finally decided to give this new medium a try.

In looking for my favorite colors, I realized that for the most part they did not exist in either of the oil categories. My favorite watercolors are Cobalt Blue Hue, Opera, and Quinacridone Gold. I did find a couple of those in the water mixable oils, but soon realized that I would not be using them in the same way as I did watercolors. It is a learning experience, to be sure!

I don't profess to be a pro in this medium, but have had a few really good results by simply trying new techniques. First, I began by approaching this medium in much the same way as I would watercolor…..glazing. I use the water mixable thinner made for these paints to create thin washes of color. This medium dries a bit quicker than the traditional oils, but because I am a watercolorist, even this is not fast enough. I am learning to be more patient. I know that if I want the colors to blend, then I have to apply he second glaze before the first is dry.

Another approach, and certainly a stretch for the traditional watercolorist, was to take a brush the size of a house painting brush, and swish large amounts of color across the canvas….with back and forth large motions, it felt invigorating! In watercolor, I allow the colors to mingle on the surface without the back and forth motion, so you see, everything is quite different. The artist has to do most of the work when working with oils!

I also tried working with a palette knife. This gave me the courage to be really bold! I could apply thick globs of paint to create depth! It was fun! Of course, when you change mediums there is a lot to learn, and strangely enough, I find the oils much harder to do than watercolor. People are always saying that watercolor is the hardest medium in which to paint. But after forty years, I guess, it becomes second nature. Now I am having to reverse all my thinking, from darks to lights, rather than the reverse. I have luckily be able to paint enough good ones that they are being accepted in juried competitions….and have even had a few rejections, which is a part of growing and learning. Stay tuned for updates on this process.