One of the glaring misconceptions about painting in oils is that you need to use highly toxic, highly flammable solvents (turpentine, mineral spirits)—this is NOT the case. These solvents damage your health and pollute the environment. I started oil painting without the use of solvents in 2003 and haven’t looked back. I use paint straight out of the tube and add tiny amounts of linseed oil for more fluidity. Here are a few tips for solvent free oil painting:
- If you are painting in layers (indirect painting) follow the “fat over lean” rule: each layer should contain more oil than the previous layer. So, your first layer should be paint right out of the tube—your next layer should be paint with a little linseed oil added—and so on.
- If you want to start your painting with thin “washes” of paint you can use water-soluble oil paint—Fortunately there are a number of major paint manufacturers that produce water-soluble oil paint—Grumbacher’s Max paint is my personal favorite.
- Clean your brushes with ordinary dish soap and water.
- Never leave oil soaked rags lying around—they can burst into flames (due to the strong oxidizing agent in the linseed oil). Immediately after use place rags in a sealed water-filled metal container.
- Always look for the AP label on artist’s oil paints—this label means the paint is considered non-toxic after extensive scrutiny by a team of independent toxicologists.