how to thin down oil paint with medium

how to thin down oil paint with medium

WARNING! Artists’ materials are very dangerous and can cause
injury or death! Use in a well-ventilated area, read all warning labels, and keep out of
reach of children! Use at your own risk! I want to show you how to mix paint with medium. When you buy artists’ paint from the store, it comes out of the tube and it’s very stiff, and I like to thin it down,
so it’s easier to work with. So, I want to show you how to do that. This is the medium that I like,
and it’s a slow-dry medium. We have all the recipes, and more, on the supply list page, which is at: So, go check that out,
and you can find all the recipes. But this slow-dry medium will cause the paint to dry much slower, which I like, because I like to work on my palette
and have all my colors prepared, so I can leave my palette in my studio for five days, even a week, and my paint is still wet and usable, and hasn’t started to dry. So, that’s why I like the slow-dry medium. Step one is to pick out some Mason jars, and I like these, because they have nice straight edges, and if I take a stick and put it down in there, I can get to everything. Versus something like this where you have all these hidden corners in here, and it’s harder to get to. So, find a straight Mason jar like that. And these are 250 milliliters, and that’s pretty good for one tube of paint. Or, that’s 8 ounces, either way. 250ml (8oz) jar is good for
one 37ml tube of paint. This is some ultramarine that I’ve already mixed up. It’s got the date on there, when I mixed it. But let me show you how to mix the paint. We’re going to start with a little bit of medium, and just put a very small splash, just enough to sort of run along the bottom edge, and I’m just coating the glass with the oil. That will keep the stiff paint
from sticking to the glass. It makes it easier to mix. Once I’ve done that, then I’m going to squeeze the entire tube of paint into the jar. This is a 37ml tube. If you have a tube wringer, you could use it to squeeze every bit of paint out of there. But I won’t do that now. Then I’ll pick up my yellow stick, and I’m going to try to get some oil
on the end of the stick as well, before I push it into that paint. I’m just dipping my stick down in there and getting a little bit of oil on it. I’m going to mix this until it’s nice and smooth. OK. So, once that’s smooth, I take a small stick, like this, and scrape all the stiff paint off of your mixing stick. Otherwise, it will just keep accumulating there and not mix with the medium. Another splash of medium. And we’re going to go a little bit at a time, because it’s real easy to go from being a little bit too thick, to being too runny. We’re going to have to go in nice, slow steps so we don’t get ahead of ourselves. Every color has different properties. Every one acts differently with the medium. For instance, the yellow.
You can add a little bit of medium, and then you add a little bit more, and then all of a sudden, it’s too runny. The blue, it seems like you add more and more medium, and you’ve added almost twice, three times as much, it seems like, than the yellow. Every one is different, so just go nice and slow, and I’m going to show you how to test for consistency. What we’re going for is about the thickness of tomato ketchup. And I’m going to show you a little trick so you can test the thickness. If you look at this stick—
And it’s a nice, flat stick, and it’s about this wide compared to my finger. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get a stick about that fat, that flat, and this wide, and mix it into your paint. Now watch. I’ll pick up as much as I possibly can, then I’m going to turn, and it should just plop off without too much hesitation. That’s a little bit too long. That took too long to fall off. Let me do that again. Pick up a whole bunch of it, turn it, and it should just fall right off. But the yellow is different than a lot of the pigments. And they’re all different,
so you should do the same test. Whenever I’m mixing paint, I always mix it a little bit too thick. So, this is a little bit too thick. But I’m just going to leave it like that, because once you let it sit in the jar with the lid on it for 12 hours, or 24 hours, you come back and then the paint
has become thinner on its own. So, I mix it a little bit thicker. This is especially true for the yellow. Mix it a little bit thick, put the lid on, put it on the shelf, come back the next day, open it up, and then stir your stick into it and see if it has become runnier. Because the yellow will sometimes get much runnier as it sits in the jar. All of that is going to happen in 12 or 24 hours. Once it has gotten thin, and you get your consistency right, and it’s been sitting on the shelf, It’s not going to continue to get runny. So, that’s how you mix the paint into the medium. And I’m going to let this sit overnight and see how it looks tomorrow. So that’s that one. Once you mix up your paint, put a date on it like I have the blue, so you remember when you mixed it. Let me show you a couple of things that are different. The burnt umber dries much faster than any of the other colors. If I mix this with just a regular medium, not a slow-dry medium, or even just with a little bit of linseed oil, and paint it on a canvas, within 8 hours to 12 hours it’s going to be dry on the canvas. Which is way too fast for our purposes. What I’m going to do is take the burnt umber, and I’m going to mix it with the regular slow-dry medium, but I’m going to add a little bit of extra oil of cloves. Because the oil of cloves is the thing that retards the drying more than anything else. So, I’ll start by taking this jar, and I’m just doing it exactly like I did the yellow. The only difference is, instead of starting with medium — slow-dry medium — I’m going to start with straight oil of cloves. So, what I’ll do is for one 37ml tube, I’m going to put 3 teaspoons of oil of cloves to start with in my jar. I just dump the oil of cloves in there, and I’ve got… not quite enough in this one, but just to show you, and I’m going to run it around, just like the medium, then I’m going to — this is
before we add any slow-drying medium — add the burnt umber, mix it thin with the oil of cloves, and then from there, just add the slow-dry medium like we did with the yellow. Get it to that same consistency as tomato ketchup. That’s how you do the burnt umber. A little bit different. The titanium white is a little bit different. The titanium white has its own special medium which is slow-dry medium for titanium, and it has a lot less stand oil in it than the regular. And for some reason, titanium white — every pigment is different — but titanium, when you mix it with the regular slow-dry medium, it can become very stiff depending on the manufacturer, and a number of things. But just to be safe, I really like to use the slow-dry medium recipe for titanium. So, that’s how you mix paint with medium, and now you’re ready to go. The paint in the jars will stay fresh and good for six months or a year, without any refrigeration. If you’re opening your jars all the time, that’s going to make that a little bit shorter, but I’ve never had any trouble with paint drying inside these Mason jars. If you’re not going to be painting
for six months or a year, you can always take your jars and close them nice and tight,
and put them in a refrigerator, and let them sit in the fridge. They’ll probably last two or three years in the fridge. When you pull them out of the fridge, and you want to get into your paint, let the jars sit outside of the fridge a couple of hours until it becomes room temperature, and then open it up. Only because you’ll get a little bit
of condensation on the paint, and you don’t want any water getting into your paint. So, that’s how you handle that. That’s all there is to mixing paint with medium.

100 thoughts on “how to thin down oil paint with medium

  1. I've never seen anyone do anything like this. In terms of taking an entire tube and mixing it like that.
    Very interesting.

    Pintando un bodegon al òleo paso a paso-Painting an oil still life step to step.-

  3. what other oils can you use? than the clove oil?, is that the actual names of the oils (the other oils, not the clove oil) i know this is a dumb question, but can i use cooking oil?…

  4. Hi Mark, is this the medium you use with the Geneva Artist Oil Color range? Looking forward to when you have international shipping!

  5. i don´t find how to make the mediums at the supply list….. By the way, the gallery is amazing.

  6. Can this recipe be used to make glazes?  I would also like to make oils become more like acrylic fluids, so would you suggest using more clove oil or refined linseed oil?  Thanks!

  7. Hi there, Can I instead use Oil Spike of Lavender which should act as a slow drying medium and possibly the Clove oil?

  8. Does anyone know if Holbein's Permanent white would would have the same properties as Titanium White and thus require Carder's supplemental recipe for T. White? or would the basic recipe for SDM work? Thanks!!

  9. Since I don't live in the US, and can't buy the Geneva Paints, I was looking at the recipe for the medium in your website and have a few questions: Can I use regular turpentine or pain thinner as a substitute for the Odourless Mineral Spirits? Researching "Venice Turpentine" I have found it to be something used in horses's hooves sometimes, but I'm not sure if I'm able to find it. Can it be substituted with something else?

  10. Where can I find those 8 oz. Mason jars? I went to — but I was hoping to get them cheaper. Any ideas?

  11. Hi Mark,
    As a professional commercial illustrator for over 40 years, I've always painted with Acrylics and Gouache paints. When I was younger I loved to work with oils but later had to stop using them due to the fact that the odors were making me ill and some of the paints consisted of lead. I would really like to get back into painting with oils because of the wet-on-wet technique. I do know that your paints do not include any harsh solvents. Can you explain the safety reasons for using Geneva paints?
    Thanks, Ken

  12. Shoot, my white was a little thick and I already had the regular slow mix all mixed up so I just used it thin down my white. Unfortunately, the next day my white had become stiff like clay. Is there anything I can do to fix it or do I just need to trash that batch of white and start all over?

  13. It might be helpful to mention that this medium should only be used for alla prima painting. You would never want to use his to build up a painting in layers. Not only would you risk cracking at some point down the road, but it would be sloooooow going waiting for those layers to dry.

  14. I'm having difficulty with oil simulating bronze painting on a trophy.  Its a resin casting with one lite coat krylon primer then krylon gold then oil paint wiped over the piece. Nothing was added to the oil. Then feathered with a brush, which smooth's out the paint revealing the gold underneath.  By the next day the paint its mostly dry. However the thin coat of feathered paint has cracked. How do I keep it from doing that?

  15. i have nearly 200ml of yellow oil paint, and a 195x95cm canvas i have to cover with it. i'm terrified i won't have enough, so i wanted to mix it with some linseed oil, just to get more stuff; but i couldn't find linseed oil in the shops! time is really of the essence.. the canvas took about 500ml of primer, maybe 450ml more or less. but surely the gesso goes into the canvas more, so it takes more of the stuff to cover the canvas, while oil paint is oily, so surely a little goes a long way..?
    i apologise to all you real artists who actually paint beautiful things. i am literally painting a canvas yellow and sleeping on it. i really don't see reason in doing any work which is not conceptual, that's just not how i work.
    anyway, i'll get that done this week, and i might comment at this comment to post an update. (like i said, time is of the essence.)

  16. Hi Mark, Thank you for this excellent video. One question: I could not find your recipe for mixing white with medium…
    Is it posted somewhere else?

  17. THANK YOU FOR THE WARNING. NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW IT… I know of several painters that died of cancer. some paints and some mediums are very toxic.

  18. I've been doing research and have found mixed opinions about which products are best for thinning oil paint and decreasing its drying time.  I have a can of regular paint thinner but was told it was the worst for oil paints.  I also have a can of Boiled Linseed oil but I hesitate doing anything until I know more from experienced artists.  In the end I'm looking to lesson the drying time a bit, thinning the paint as much as possible, and I don't want the look to be overly glossy.  Your video is wonderful, but the mediums you mixed your oil paint with do not show what I should buy exactly, as there are so many products out there.  For instance I have Boiled Linseed oil but I understand there is also Pure Raw Linseed.  Very confused I am.  Can you please share your thoughts?  Thank you!

  19. You are so easy to listen to, easier to understand I gave up painting 20 years ago because I did not understand colors, I didn't understand a lot of things that u have made simple! Please keep teaching don't ever take down ur Beginning oil painting lessons!

  20. All of your videos that I've watched so far have been excellent, you've got a new subscriber! You've cleared up a lot of the confusion that I had about starting painting with oils. I'm going to have to set aside some time soon to watch through the whole list.

  21. I have no thinners…I can't afford any right now and I want to test out my first time with oil paints I got from my grandma. Wut can I use I'd have at home to thin the paint that would work? Canola oil? Anything that most people have at home I could use as a thinner?

  22. Hi Mark, I put my paint in the freezer. How long do I have to wait for it to be in usable condition? Also, do I have to add thinners and oils in the later stages?

  23. Very educational for an oil paint beginner. Question, I want very thin paints for what I'm going to do, mix on the canvas so colors will blend and pick up each other with white for one color how do I mix them to that consistency and still keep the paint stable? Thanks

  24. can you just keep them in the bottle they came in and use the thinner when you wanna paint? or is this something more necessary to do?

  25. I was trying to follow your example here but I may have made a mistake. I used boiled linseed oil instead of the medium you are using. My paints are extremely thick, they are Classic Artist Oils (formally Dana, Triangle Coatings) from quart cans. they were used to paint pictorials on billboards. So they can still stand a bit more thinning. I probably should finish up the thinning process with oil of cloves.?.?.? I have so much of each color, I used pint size jars, I believe you are using half pints.

  26. Thank you so much for this video I have a quick question what if your mixing white into your colors that have clove oil in them? I do a lot of portrait work and my colors are drying WAY to fast which is why I loveee your video and your recipe and would love to use it but I'm a bit worried in mixing the white and the other colors. Also is it okay to use this recipe with paint that already has linseed mixed into it?

  27. I like the way you explain and it's so easy to understand Iam so confused and frustrated about mixing and the consistency of colour that now I feel watching your video is setting me on track thank you so very much for sharing

  28. Approx. How long will it take for a painting to dry when using paint with the slow drying medium added? I know it I'll depend on the thickness of the paint to a large extent – but approximately?

  29. I searched endlessly on your site for the recipe for Slow Dry Medium for Titanium White and couldn't find it.

  30. great series of videos! I see Refined Linseed Oil on the workspace but it is not mentioned in the video, was it edited out – or is it an ingredient of the slow dry medium?

  31. Is this also applicable to student grade paints? I bought a set of Winton paints which I understand contain a lot of filler.

  32. Having a challenge finding Oil of Cloves. Do have any suggested vendor or online source? Thank you!

  33. Mark do you still use this recipe? how long does the paint last so it does not dry out?i dont paint very much like every day ,maybe once a month.

  34. Thank you so much for your teachings. In South Africa, I cannot find Venetian, and Stand Linseed Oil is almost impossible to find too. Are there any other recipes that I could use please?
    I am very grateful for your free videos, the exchange rate these days are exorbitant, so unfortunately I cannot afford to purchase any of your videos.
    You are a wonderful teacher, and I truly appreciate the logical explanations that you give for some of the difficult to understand misconceptions, and optical illusions. I have watched most of your videos, some of them more than once, and am truly thankful that I found you!

  35. Which of Venice turpentine or Strasbourg turpentine is better for mediums like the ones your mention in your supply list international webpage (

  36. I did this. I now question the clove oil because it overpowers my painting experience. I may be accustomed but it is really strong, and I wish I wouldn't of committed all that paint

  37. This was very good, but I still do it the old fashioned way with honey with beeswax. Urine alkaloids make a nice firm paste for alla primo and never EVER use cadmium- they cause decay. Try clay kettles. Skim the batter CAREFULLY. tape helps in cleanup

  38. Your videos are AWESOME!!! I have been painting realism, mostly portraits, on and off for 50 years, (since I was 8, and am now 58) but was really never taught technique, despite majoring in Fine Art in college! Thanks to you and some others here on YouTube, I am correcting a LOT of mistakes and bad habits that caused me to really fight with the medium and get so frustrated. I am presently watching ALL your free videos on your website, and am learning SO MUCH! And painting, now that I'm back into it is becoming a PLEASURE as a result! Thanks for providing such wonderful, easy to understand material and well made videos. Much Love from New Mexico USA

  39. Three minutes in and my mind is yelling: "What is Medium!"
    Well done otherwise my artistic autist brother.
    I ran 'cross a bunch of tubes of oils and avoid dealing in money or taxes but am planning on a jigsaw pallet and Monet's Sunflowers on a plank of wood to mirror the one in Vangough's water-lilies mimicking Calder's motion, pointillism with toothbrushes, and an all-around virginity regarding the ins and outs of oils. Being a muralist with sponges and three complimentary drab shades from nature and a gently proferred reflective highlight gloss that makes the walls disappear doncha' know..
    Your posting and your help is appreciated.

  40. Finally I've managed to get all of the ingredients to make the medium (even the Venice Turpentine). Question: Mark it looks like the jars you are using are 125mls and not 250mls. Could that be? Very excited to get my colours mixed.

  41. It is not good to add clove oil to your paint, first of all it darkens over time, and if you put too much your paint will never dry!!! Also, It hasnt been in use long enough to see problems down the road (archival, etc.) I wouldnt use any clove oil, but thats my personal opinion!

  42. you are the greatest! I have learned so much from watching your videos and am already seeing an improvement in my work. Thanks.

  43. i'm about to cry why are u such a good person we don't deserve u i can't tell u how much ur content is helping me and u're doing this for free i was considering taking a course which is so fuckin expensive and i probably wouldn't have even learnt half of what u're offering on ur channel FOR FREE i just love u sir thank u so so much

  44. First of all, thank you for the wonderful tutorial. I am wondering if regular store bought “Vegetable Oil” would be bad to have mixed into the Oil Paint even in low amounts. The reason I ask, is because I have been resting my dirty brushes in a jar of vegetable oil figuring the paint will not dry on the brush while in the oil bath. Next time I am ready to paint, I take the brush out and squeeze as much of the oil out into a rag. Of course there is still a little vegetable oil inside the bristles. Perhaps there is better oil to use for my “brush bath”. I am really loving not having to spend time getting all of the paint off of my brushes every time I am finished with a painting session. I would have a separate bath for brushes with black paint so I don’t contaminate the non black paint brushes.

  45. Question: Is it possible to only add Oil of Clove to the the Burnt Umber?

    …since it is the main “slower” in the formula. Just curious because I’d rather not have any toxic fumes if possible

  46. I, like many oil artists, use 2 (sometimes 3) different whites. Do I mix zinc white in the same fashion as the other colors or is there a slow drying medium for that as well? I'm assuming titanium white is the exception here. Thank you for your excellent and highly informative tutorials. Fan for life!

  47. 15ml of clove oil for a 37ml tube of paint seems to be way too much according to all opinions I've found on the net. Have you ever had problems with paint not drying properly, inability to remove protective varnish without damaging the paint film, or darkening of the colours after a few years?

  48. Resp. Sir, my Pebeo Titanium white is already Dried up, is it possible to restore it same way as you shown? (It’s almost like stone!)

  49. I really wanted to say thank you, you speak like my old mentor. You brought back a lot of knowledge I had lost due to brain trauma. Thank you for bringing my technique back up to my creativity.

  50. how do you get the oil paint so liquefied/fluid without diluting the color/pigments? I would actually like my paint runny but don't want the color to be washed out.. 🙂

  51. I see Linseed Oil on many painting videos, mixing videos, paint thinning videos etc. I guess these professionals do not realize that there is 1. Refined Linseed oil. 2. Boiled Linseed Oil and 3.Pure Raw Linseed Oil. I hadn't seen anyone of them tell which of the three that they recommend, or is that because all three Oils work the same way with Oil Paint?

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