Cooking Oil as a medium?

by Delmus, in response to a customers email.
(Lynchburg, Virginia)

Customer writes:

I can't believe I received a response much less in the length of time you responded in.

I'm 52 and just purchased my first computer and find that most websites are scams. I really don't prefer one painting technique over any others. I do find the wet on wet technique to be a challenge due to I find it difficult (lack of knowledge) on getting my layers to adhere.

By now I'm sure you've guessed I purchased a beginners kit by Bob Ross. Although it's informative he never mentions using any mediums. Through trail and error I added oil (cooking oil) to my paint mixture which helped the layers to I suspect this info was not included in his tutorials.

Don't have a heart attack...I only used cooking oil in hopes of trouble shooting so that I could see if my paint consistency was the issue.

I have now been on your web site approximately 3 hours plus. I can only repeat what a prior contact stated.....its nice to find a artist who shares his knowledge with others without withholding keys facts that inspire us beginners.

I've been recently unemployed due to health issues and feeling lost. Painting helps me feel like I still have something to offer and helps keep me THANK YOU for your website and your response.

God Bless


Editors Note:

Hi Tammie,

Not sure how to direct you for the wet in wet techniques. I've used the technique and learned a great deal about handling paint, but my concern has always been the paint layer, and how it will work out being so thick.

The method I use is the Flemish with multiple layers. Others call it an indirect method of painting. This technique has proven itself to stand up with time.

I also use Liquin medium, just a touch, when I mix my paints to help dry quicker. I hope this helps.

Now concerning your use of cooking oils. If this was a true "vegetable oil", these are considered Non-drying oils. This means that your paint film will never dry. Don't use them in painting.

You can use Safflower oil, (which is also a cooking oil!) and you will find that kind of oil in your white paint. (just check the label). The problem with it however, it too takes forever to dry. (but it will dry). It's the reason too that your Titanium White takes so long to dry unless you add a dryer to it.

A refined linseed oil or walnut oil will work great in giving your paints that buttery texture that I believe you are looking for. Linseed oil has historically been the best oil for using as a mixing oil.

It will also help in getting the paint to "adhere" to the next layer.

If your health issues don't allow for solvents, you can paint solvent free using Safflower oil to clean your brushes. I've tried it with no ill effect to my painting.

It takes a little more agitation in the cleaning jar to get the paint off, but enough comes off that you can safely change colors without ill result. My cleaning jar is a simple mason jar with a bit of wire mesh folded up and placed within it about 1/3 from the top of the jar.

Never use baby oil! It too is a non-drying oil.

I do however use more rags to remove the excess oil from the brush, where as using turps, a good flick at the trash bucket gets most of any solvent out of the brush. (Just like our friend Bob Ross does to clean his brush)

With best regards,

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Good to know
by: Carryl

This is handy info, I was just wondering if I could try a cooking oil to paint with as I just discovered refined walnut oil gives me a sore throat, though not as quickly or badly as mineral spirits. I don't know if it's the alkali used to refine it, the internet is giving very little information, until I found this at least to explain why not to use cooking oils. Safflower oil, though. I'll see about that. I have watermixable oil paints too and they give a smoother and less shiny finish (I need bigger brushes cos I'm getting some streaky areas in paintings), but the thin quality of them isn't as fun as normal oils, I love the squishy feeling of it.

Safflower oil
by: L Rodgers in OKC

Thank you so very much for this info about using Safflower oil to clean brushes. I can't use solvents and am new to oil painting and really appreciate this info.

I also appreciate the linseed oil info.

I wish I could use solvents like Bob Ross because that is the technique I'm trying to learn but, as we all know, he passed at 52 with cancer. Not saying the solvents caused it but, makes you wonder.

Again, thank you for this info.

Thank You
by: Latonia Brown

This post is so helpful, I am just starting out with oil paint, and know nothing about which medium is the best. I was told vegetable oil was fine to use, but as I am learning, I see that it isn't drying. Thanks so much for this!!!!!

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