Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Using Water Soluble Oil Paints

I have to take pictures of my last couple of paintings from my a la prima oil painting class at Fleisher Art Memorial and instead of allowing the time to pass without comment, I decided to introduce the first in a series of posts about my experiences with water soluble oil paints.

I've been using water soluble oil paints for about a year. I transitioned from regular oil paints early on in college and took up with alkyd oil paints because I wanted faster drying times. I learned about water soluble oil paints before I used them. I purchased Painting with Water-Soluble Oils by Sean Dye after wanting to get back into painting but realizing that I had no true (or, more to the point, safe) studio space so I needed to consider something that wouldn't ruin our carpets.

To start things off, let me begin this intermittent series of posts with my brief review listed on Amazon.com of the book which I'll go into more in-depth later:
I have owned this book for quite some time and just recently re-read it. It does a fine job providing an overview of water soluble oils (WSO) and how they differ from regular oils. The write-ups for each include a listing of paints offered by each manufacturer and their light-fastness (i.e., longevity after sustained exposure to light). The information covered is more than enough to help you select one of them to begin painting.

I've used them in the past and am now taking a class where I'm using them and others are using traditional oils. I have to say that cleaning up with soap and water is awesome. I use the Artisan brand and have a couple of the MAX brand too. I'm going to try the other brands to see how they handle.

The write-ups by artists about WSOs, their comparison/contrast with traditional oils and the demonstration "lessons" provide for light reading. The pictures throughout give you a fine overview of what other artists do/did with these paints.

Having said all of this, though, I have to note that this isn't a strict how-to book. You'll need to look elsewhere for that. One person recommended the "Water Soluble Oils" section of a book called "The Oil Painting Book" by Bill Creevy. Another is "No Experience Required! - Water-Soluble Oils" by Mary Deutschman. From the reviews this last book sounds it is more about hands-on technique.

Overall, I'd say buy this book to help you get a sense about this medium.
Some of my thoughts have changed since writing this review in June 2008. I'll cover these thoughts and more beginning with my next post about water soluble oil paints.

Please feel free to share your own experiences about this medium.