Used by Jackson Pollock to create his renowned drip paintings, alkyds are a synthetic medium made from oil-modified resin treated with alcohol. The main advantage of using an alkyd medium is that it dries more quickly than oil, allowing most oil paints that have been mixed with an alkyd to be touch-dry within 24 hours. This fast-drying property provides tough yet flexible paint films, making alkyd a great medium for layering and complex glazing applications. Alkyd media can be found in an array of paint-modifying formulations to provide thinning, thickening, glossy finish, matte finish, fast drying time, and slow drying time. There are also varying levels of viscosity, with high-viscosity varieties providing a thicker medium that can be used to show pronounced brushstrokes, and low-viscosity versions being a great option for washes. Our picks below with help you find the right alkyd medium for your oil painting needs.
1. Gamblin Galkyd
With a viscosity that is similar to traditional painting media made from linseed oil, Gamblin’s Galkyd medium increases the fluidity of oil colors while speeding up their drying time. Made with alkyd resin and odorless mineral spirits, Galkyd provides a strong, flexible paint film that leaves an enamel-like glossy finish. As Gamblin’s fastest-drying painting medium, Galkyd is an excellent choice for artists wanting to quickly build up layers, and when used in greater proportion with oil color it can help to level brush strokes for a smoother finish, keeping oils clear and jewel-like, not cloudy.
2. Winsor & Newton Liquin Original
One of the very first alkyd resin media ever produced, Winsor & Newton Liquin Original is a widely used general-purpose low-gloss medium that improves flow and transparency, making it ideal for glazing techniques and detailed brushwork. Compared with Galkyd, Liquin dries a bit more slowly, allowing more workable time on the palette with greater flexibility. However, it is worth noting that Liquin has a stronger odor than some of the other products listed here and is best used in a well-ventilated area.
3. M. Graham & Co. Walnut/Alkyd Medium
This medium accelerates drying time without changing the texture of the paint. Solvent free and certified nontoxic medium with the combined advantages of walnut oil, which will enhance flow allowing for more control, and alkyd, which accelerates drying time. This low-viscosity, fluid medium will enhance adhesion between layers and increase surface sheen.
4. Grumbacher Alkyd Painting Medium
Quick drying with a matte finish, Grumbacher Alkyd Painting Medium will enhance flow for easy surface glide without loss of control. When applied in thin layers, paint mixed with this alkyd should be dry to the touch within 12 hours. It is a thixotropic painting medium, which means that the more you stir, the more fluid it will become, making it an excellent choice for glazing and creating rich, transparent layers.
5. Williamsburg Alkyd Resin Oil
Unlike the other products listed here, Williamsburg Alkyd Resin Oil is slow drying. With a honey-like consistency that is sticky and leveling, it can be added to oil paint to modify transparency and flow. You will still get a gloss and hardness akin to that of other alkyds without having to sacrifice the longer drying time that allows greater manipulation and blending.