For artists, there space a variety of ways to slim oil paint. However, the ideal thinning technique will count on how thin you desire to make your paint, your painting technique, and also how lot gloss you want to achieve. Therefore what are few of the ideal ways to thin oil paint?

Thinning oil repaint with solvents such as mineral soul achieves lower viscosity v moderate drying time and also a matte appearance. Thinning with herbal oils such together linseed oil achieves greater viscosity, sluggish drying time, and glossier results.

You are watching: How to thin oil based paint

There are many other alternatives besides the ones detailed above. Let"s watch at few of these options and what you should know about each one. See listed below the table for in-depth information.

MediumTypeViscosityDrying TimeFinishNotes
Mineral SpiritsSolventLowModerateMatteModerate evaporation. Artist-grade has actually less fumes.
TurpentineSolventLowModerateMatteFast evaporation. Fumes have the right to be an issue.
Linseed OilOilMediumSlowGlossyThe traditional oil for oil painting. Can yellow over time.
Walnut OilOilMediumSlowGlossyYellows less than linseed oil. Colors more brilliant in walnut oil.
Safflower OilOilMediumVery SlowGlossyYellows less than linseed. Dries evenly without creating top skin.
Poppy OilOilMediumVery SlowGlossyThe slowest dry oil. Concerns around stability.
Stand OilOilHighSlowGlossyThickened linseed oil. Enamel finish.
GalkydPetroleum DistillatesHighFastGlossyMade by Gamblin. Rather toxic but good medium.
LiquinPetroleum DistillatesHighFastGlossyMade by Windsor & Newton. Widely offered medium.
Maroger MediumMastic Varnish, Linseed Oil and also Lead DryerVery HighFastGlossyOld Master"s medium. Versatile however toxic.
Neo-MegilpPetroleum DistillatesVery HighFastGlossyGamblin"s modern version the Maroger Medium.
Solvent complimentary GelSafflower AlkydVery HighModerateGlossyNon-toxic gel made through Gamblin.

Thin Oil paint with Solvents

The most basic method to thin oil repaint is by utilizing a solvent such together mineral spirits or turpentine. Solvents will thin the paint really rapidly and also thoroughly and are low viscosity, which method they have actually a more watery consistency. You can thin the paint with a tiny amount to make it buttery, or slim it come a soup-like consistency so you can quickly and also easily cover her canvas and also fill in any kind of texture.

Thinning with solvents will dry the paint faster than using herbal oils such together linseed or safflower oil. The repaint will additionally have a an ext matte appearance once it dries. Also, many solvents usually price less than various other mediums and oils.


Thinning your initial layers through a solvent means you don"t need to worry about violating the fat over lean rule when adding subsequent layers of paint. The fat end lean preeminence says that any kind of subsequent layers of paint need to have actually at the very least as lot or more oil content than the previous layers in bespeak to prevent sinking in. Sinking in is when dull spots appear on your paint after it has actually dried. Click here to view my article on how to settle sinking in problems.

The over consideration way that you should only thin through mineral spirits on her first couple layers that paint. Each added layer should have less solvent 보다 the vault layer to ensure over there is much more oil in that brand-new layer.

Do no thin your oil repaint with a solvent if the previous layer(s) consists of thick and/or oily paint. This will cause massive sinking in and also even cracking down the road. Also, protect against thinning your repaint with solvents if you usage a glazing technique. Oil or oil-based mediums are much better suited for glazing.

One that the huge drawbacks to making use of solvents to slim oil paint is the fumes solvents release. this fumes can be harmful to breath in over extended periods the time. If girlfriend are very sensitive to solvents you might not have the ability to use them in ~ all. If the is the case, click here to inspect out my post on oil paint without solvents.

When utilizing solvents, it"s recommended you use artist-grade solvents such as Gamsol or Turpenoid. unlike mineral soul you buy in ~ the hardware store, artist-grade mineral spirits do not contain any additives, and also they have actually less the a smell. The said, ns will use hardware mineral spirits when I"m act oil sketches outside (plein wait painting). Ns don"t intended to sell these sketches or even display them, and when I"m external the fumes don"t bother me together much.

Another solvent you have the right to use is turpentine. Make of pine tree resin, turpentine has actually been approximately longer 보다 mineral spirits, i beg your pardon is obtained from petroleum distillates. Turpentine will have actually the same effect on oil repaint as mineral spirits, yet many artists find the fumes native turpentine more complicated to tolerate. friend may likewise find the price the turpentine come be higher than mineral spirits.

How come Mix Solvents v Oil Paint

To thin her oil paint with a solvent, pour part solvent right into a little or medium-sized jar. Make sure everything jar or container friend use has actually a tight-fitting lid to prevent excess fumes and also evaporation. I choose to usage a very small container since the solvent deserve to quickly come to be polluted. Utilizing a little jar method only a little amount of solvent will certainly be polluted and also can be quickly replaced through clean solvent.

Dip your brush into the solvent. If you want to thin your paint only slightly, climate dip just the tip of your brush into the solvent. If you desire to slim your repaint to a more soupy consistency, dip many of your brush into the solvent. Carry your brush over to her paint and mix it with each other on your palette. Repeat as essential until the repaint becomes the desired viscosity.

You can additionally sprinkle solvent right into the paint on her palette, especially if you want to slim a big amount that paint.

Thin Oil paint with Oils

The above line sound a bit obvious and redundant, yet there space some vital things you must know about thinning her oil repaint with oils.

Thinning your paint with oil results in a higher viscosity and dries glossier than thinning through solvents. But together implied in our over conversation around the fat over skinny rule, you want to avoid thinning your first layers of repaint with oils unless you setup to add at least as much, if not an ext oil come your succeeding layers to prevent sinking in. Thinning your succeeding layers through oil is a good way to rise the "fat" contents of her paint and also prevent sinking in.

So if you like to job-related with thin paint, thin your first layer or two v a solvent such as mineral spirits, then slim your succeeding layers with oil or an oil-based medium. You can additionally use oils because that glazing techniques. Let"s look at few of the different oils and also their characteristics.

Linseed Oil

The many widely supplied oil because that oil painting is linseed oil. Derived from flax, linseed oil is the many stable oil with moderate drying time, about 5 work or so. Linseed oil dries by forming a height skin and going indigenous there. The one problem with linseed oil is that it deserve to yellow end time. Therefore if you want to slim a cooler, lighter value color such as white, you might want to use a different type of oil.

Walnut Oil

Used for hundreds of years, walnut oil is an excellent because it"s very resistant to yellowing and cracking and it dries slower than linseed oil. Some paint manufacturers usage walnut oil practically exclusively. Walnut oil can likewise make your colors show up to be much more intense.

Safflower Oil

Safflower oil dries even much more slowly than linseed oil. fairly than dry by an initial forming a optimal skin, safflower oil dries more evenly, i beg your pardon can reason it to have actually a difficult feeling throughout the dry process. It also doesn"t yellow as lot as linseed oil. Some have questioned safflower"s irreversible stability, however this is unwarranted as centuries-old paintings have displayed it hold up very well.

Poppy Oil

If you desire to really slow-moving down your drying time climate poppy oil is the way to go. Be affected by each other in mental there room concerns around its long-term stability and also you must avoid utilizing it in your initial layers.

Stand Oil

Stand oil is essentially linseed oil that has been heated. The an outcome is a thicker, higher viscosity oil the dries faster than regular linseed oil. It additionally has far better color retention since oxygen is what causes yellowing and stand oil requires much less oxidation time to dry.

How come Mix Oils through Oil Paint

Mixing oils through oil repaint is a similar procedure to mixing solvents with oil paint. Pour some into a little jar. V oils it"s not imperative the the jar has actually a lid as fumes and evaporation will certainly not it is in an issue (unless you simply don"t choose the smell). Dip her brush right into the oil and also then mix it through your paint. When again tiny jars are finest so you have the right to replace polluted oil with clean oil an ext often and also with much less waste.

You can likewise pour the oil straight onto her palette and also mix it that way.

Thin Oil paint with Mediums

Besides solvents and also natural oils there are a wide range of produced mediums you deserve to use come thin your paint. Numerous of these mediums are a combination of some type of oil-based problem such together petroleum distillates with solvent. While there are plenty of on the market, us will comment on a couple of of the more popular ones here to obtain you started.


Galkyd make by Gamlin is one of the main mediums ns use as soon as oil painting. It"s a petroleum distillates-based tool that has actually a rather high viscosity. it does a an excellent job of including flow and will set-up and also dry somewhat easily (usually in a day) v a glossy finish. you can also thin Galkyd with Gamsol or various other artist-grade mineral soul to decrease its viscosity and also reduce gloss.

There are number of versions that Galkyd accessible such as Galkyd Lite, i m sorry is reduced viscosity and dries less glossy, and Galkyd slow Dry, i beg your pardon dries slower and also is also less glossy. It"s recommended you don"t mix solvents v Galkyd Lite or Galkyd sluggish Dry.


Also acquired from petroleum distillates, Liquin, do by Winsor & Newton was originally made to be a modern sustitute for Maroger medium (see below), yet without the need to deal with lead. Liquin features in the same way as Galkyd and is widely supplied by artists. They also make a Liquin gel that has actually alkyd resin added to give it a more thickness consistency.

How come Mix Mediums v Oil Paint

To usage Galkyd or Liquin, pour a tiny amount onto her palette or into a small cup, dip her brush into it, then mix it right into your paint. You can mix a little amount for impasto approaches or a bigger amount for glazing.

Thin Oil paint with Gels

Having a very high viscosity, gels are great if you want to repaint with a more impasto method (thick repaint application). When they will certainly not thin your paint to the same level as its more liquid counterparts, gels will certainly still allow you to an ext easily spread the paint throughout the canvas and will provide it much more gloss as soon as it dries.

Maroger Medium

Essentially consists of lead cooked v linseed oil, Maroger was emerged by Jacques Maroger. Jacques uncovered this medium that was thought to be used by the Old Masters. This medium is exceptionally versatile. Once it"s exposed to open up air and kept still, it maintain its jelly-like consistency, but when it"s disturbed it becomes an ext liquid, only to revert to its an ext solid kind once you protect against disturbing it.

This provides it good for contempt thinning oil or because that creating more impasto brush strokes v ease. It offers you ample time come manipulate the paint but will stiffen fairly quickly and usually dries overnight. Just be careful if you use timeless Maroger medium as it will certainly contain lead which is toxic.


If you want to have the working qualities of Maroger medium but without the lead, shot Gamblin"s Neo-Megilp. It"s a gel-like medium that dries a small less glossy than other mediums however doesn"t have actually the higher toxicity of classic Maroger.

Other Gels

Other gelatin on the market encompass Gamlin"s Solvent-Free gel and also Rublev"s Epoxide Oil Gel, Walnut Oil Gel and Oleoresgel.

Combining Solvents and Oils

Combining solvents and oil or oil-based mediums can give you a wide selection of results. Say you desire a low-viscosity medium that dries easily with gloss. You have the right to mix mineral spirits through stand oil. If you desire a low-viscosity medium that dries v gloss but more slowly, try mixing mineral spirits through safflower oil.

All that Gamblin"s products are formulated to work-related with each other. But if you room working with an additional brand of medium, be certain to examine the manufacturer"s referrals on what deserve to be mixed with that details medium.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully the will acquire you started with some principles on exactly how to thin your oil paint.

See more: Do Semi Trucks Have Catalytic Converters & Components, Do Big Rigs Have Catalytic Converters

Jason Tako is a nationally known fine artist that specializes in western, wildlife, plein air, and also Historical aboriginal American subject matter. He invested his discovering years sketching the wetlands and wooded areas of landscape Minnesota. He has actually been featured in Plein air Magazine and also Western arts Collector Magazine and he to be theFeatured Artistfor the 2020 Southeastern Wildlife Expo. View his work-related atwww.JasonTako.comand his demonstrations on hisYouTube Channel.