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Water-soluable oils for plein air?


(Jeanne Bruneau) #1

I’d like to try water-soluable oils for plein air. Cobra seems to be a popular brand but I just saw a YouTube video of an Aline Ordman workshop. She uses Holbein Duo Aqua and they look so creamy & smooth! They seem to be the priciest though.

Does anyone have a brand preference you’d like to recommend?

Also, for plein air, do you just carry water in a regular metal brush washer–or do you bring along a larger amount of water say in an old soda bottle or the like?

And what do you do with the dirty water? I recycle Gamsol so I’ve never poured it down the drain or out in the environment. Wonder if the water-mixable oils are any more harmful to the water supply than say washing acrylic paint brushes in a sink?


(Michael Kennedy) #2

Here is a link with a little info from an artist, Marc Hanson, giving his opinion of trying a bunch of water soluble oils out:


He mentions the Holbein and W&N as needing a lot of medium(water?) to get/keep the flow going. He liked Cobra the best. Anyway, check out the link. :smile:


(Robyn Jorde) #3

I use Cobras. I tried a couple of the Holbein colors and did not find anything to make me prefer them, so the lower priced paint won. Artisan, however, is very stiff paint and not to my liking.


(Jeanne Bruneau) #4

Wow–thank you, Michael! I like Marc’s work so his testimonial is good enough for me. Blick sells a few different Cobra sets that might be good for plein air; their individual 40 ml tube prices are reasonable, too. Thanks for the link!


(Jeanne Bruneau) #5

Thank you, Robyn! Your experience sounds consistent with Cobra reviews on DickBlick.com. Some artists complained of an excessive amount of oil out of the Cobra tubes: I’ve had that with various colors of Winsor & Newton paint, too, perhaps color-specific or maybe length of time the product sits on a store shelf?


(Peter Lentini) #6

I found water-miscible oils to be awkward. I never liked the way they worked or the color shift from wet to dry or the way the paint drags from the brush. I had wanted to like them in order to avoid the volatile solvents associated with oils. For a quick plein air painting they might work well enough.


(Valerie Bassett) #7

Try the new water soluable oils by Daniel Smith. Just like butter. Loaded with oil so you need less paint. Pricey but worth every penny. You can only find them at Dick Blick.


(Jeanne Bruneau) #8

I did invest in a number of Cobra colors and am very pleased with them for plein air.


(Jean Nelson) #9

For those of you oil painters who said you didn’t want to use volatile solvents, may I suggest non-flammable, non-toxic “Turpenoid Natural”. It is also odorless. I have used it for over 5 years now and am very happy with the product. Find on weberart.com.


(Jeanne Bruneau) #10

Jean–do you find that if you use the Turpinoid Natural to thin paints early on–in lieu of using mineral spirits for a first layer or drawing–does it take much longer to dry? An instructor once cautioned that could be the case–though she said it was okay to use to clean brushes after you were finished painting. Thanks!


(Dave Gehman) #11

An old-ish thread -

My long-time favorite is Lukas Berlin. Generally those who consider WMOs ‘sticky’ or ‘hard to use’ have used only W&N Artisan - and some of the Artisan colors are like half-dried toothpaste. Lukas Berlin is not only buttery, it’s cheap. In the US, Jerry’s Artarama is the only source.

But a note about plein air use. Conventional oils are usable in rain and snow. WMOs get a little tricky unless your palette is protected from precipitation…


(Jeanne Bruneau) #12

On my “to-do” list is to pick up some tubes of Lukas Berlin WMO next time I’m at Jerry’s. According to the manager at my local store, they have been reformulated recently.


(Jean McLean) #13

Re Turp Natural: you know I don’t consider it odorless. I know it is supposed to be a nontoxic product, but I can’t stand the smell. I noticed when painting in a workshop setting it can get pretty overpowering if not kept covered.

I like Gamsol (odorless mineral spirits from Gamblin) and have never had a complaint from any other painter when using it in an indoor setting. I use a small glass jar (recycled 2 oz. pimiento jar) for my Gamsol and keep it covered except when actually using it.


(J M Needham) #14

I use the W&N Artisan water-mixable oils. I was introduced to them quite a few years ago, and the first set I had were thick and sticky, as many people have noted, but at the time there were no other brands in the shop, so… However the newer tubes I bought a few months ago are much better, smoother and easier to work with.

Last I checked they were still the only brand I could find in Hobbycraft and the various UK-based online shops I visit. But I’ll have to check again next time I’m buying supplies and see if any other brands are available. Often UK stores don’t have such a wide range of brands and products as US ones for some reason.

I thin the oils with cold-pressed linseed oil- not the W&N brand though, those bottles are impossible to open! I bought a large bottle online (the brand is C Roberson & Co), and poured a little into a smaller plastic bottle which is much easier to carry around.


(Elizabeth Elgin) #15

I love COBRA and Holbein Duo Aqua; hate W&N - sticky sticky. Recently Johannes V. recommened Lukas as more fade proof than COBRA but don’t know the basis of this. I use walnut oil to make them flow more if needed but that takes a bit longer to dry.


(Madeline Morrow) #16

Jackson Art sells Cobra brand online in the UK and Holbein, too. I have been using W&N but have purchased a few Holbein and Cobra paints to try. So far, I was not pleased with the Holbein but the Cobra seem very nice. Some of my W&N are quite thick and dry but I find a touch of water-mixable linseed oil works well.