Water-mixable oil paints contain a modified oil binder that allows them to be thinned with water. They do not require the use of hazardous solvents, offering a welcome alternative for artists who are allergic to these substances. However, the addition of water will thin the paint color and texture—and that’s where water-mixable oil media come in. They can be added to alter the properties of the paint, allowing experimentation with flow, consistency, drying time, and gloss level while preserving the paint’s integrity and luster. Our picks below will help you find the best water-mixable oil paint medium for your project needs.
1. Cobra Water Mixable Oil Painting Medium
Composed of vegetable oils, synthetic resins, and water Cobra’s water-mixable oil medium will increase gloss and transparency in water-mixable oil paint. Like linseed oil, this painting medium will render the paint fatter (more oily) without affecting drying time, making it great for layering colors. This medium improves flow, for a smoother application and less distinct brush strokes, and increases durability of the paint film.
2. Winsor & Newton Water Mixable Linseed Oil
Linseed oil is one of the most popular media used in traditional oil painting. It is the main binder in most water-mixable oils, and when added to paint it acts like a thinning agent, improving flow and increasing gloss and transparency while slowing drying time. Linseed oil does have a tendency to yellow slightly with age, so for pale colors a water-soluble safflower oil may give better results.
3. Winsor & Newton Water Mixable Thinner
Water-mixable paints are developed to be thinned with water, but when water is the sole solvent, it can cause the moisture in the paint to evaporate quickly, leaving an emulsion and potentially altering the color. The use of a water-mixable thinner like this one from Winsor & Newton will maintain the paint’s oily feel and keep paint open longer than water, avoiding an emulsion so there is less color change. This paint thinner is also useful in combination with other water-mixable oil media.
4. Grumbacher Quickdry Medium
An alkyd-based, semi-gel medium, Grumbacher QuickDry will shorten the drying time of water-mixable oil paints. It also adds transparency and flow and smooths paint to minimize brushstrokes and hold precise details. QuickDry is also easy to use for glazing techniques, increasing gloss for brilliant colors.
5. Schmincke Medium W
A low-odor paint additive, Schmincke Medium W transforms traditional oil paints into water-mixable oils. It allows artists to thin paint without toxic solvents and to easily clean brushes with soap and water. In addition, Medium W increases gloss and transparency. One note: this medium can make colors appear slightly lighter when wet, but original tones and brilliance will return as they dry.