Technical Advice

What is the difference between oil and acrylic paint?

Oil takes longer to dry. Oil colour takes up to 6 months to dry in comparison to acrylic colour which dries is a few minutes depending on the thickness of paint applied. Oil paint is oil based whereas acrylic paint is water based. Oil paint requires solvents and oil based mediums for cleaning, diluting and for gaining other affects. Acrylics are generally more versatile and can be used on a wide variety of surface..

What is the difference between gouache and water colour?

Gouache is opaque where as water colour paints are transparent.

What mediums are needed for starting with oil?

Sansodor or white spirit for diluting and cleaning and linseed oil as an additive.

What would you suggest for painting on polystyrene/stone/clay/leather?

Acrylic paint would work on all of these surfaces.

What is the difference between artist and student quality oils, water colour and acrylic paints?

Artist quality paints are made from the highest quality pigments available. They have superior quality, light fastness and last longer. Student quality paints use cheaper pigments, thus making them less stable and less lightfast. Student paints are generally made from multiple pigment colours which muddy/go dull when mixed with lots of other colours.

What is the best medium to start painting with?

Acrylic colours are generally considered to be the most flexible of all mediums and can be used in the largest number of applications.

What brushes do I need for oil, acrylic and water colour?

Oil colour – The traditional hog hair brushes work best with oil colour although synthetic hair brushes are now more popular.
Acrylic colour – Mainly synthetic brushes work well with acrylic. If you like to achieve a more impasto look with your paint, you could also try a hog hair brush too.
Gouache and Water colour – The natural, Sable hair brushes are the best but they are expensive. A sable and synthetic mix brush as well as a pure synthetic brush would be a cheaper alternative and are perfectly acceptable alternatives to sable.

How long does oil paint take to dry?

Oil paint takes between one and six months to dry (cure). Oil paintings must be allowed at least six months drying time before varnishing.

Is there a substitute for the discontinued ‘Karisma’ pencils?

We would suggest that the closest alternatives to ‘Karisma’ pencils are Coloursoft from Derwent and the Pablo range of pencils by Caran D’ache.

Should I varnish my painting?

We recomend varnishing oil and acrylic paintings. This protects the painting from accumulation of dirt.

How long should an oil painting be left to dry before varnishing?

It’s necessary to varnish an oil painting once it has dried properly, therefore leave it to dry for at least 6 months before varnishing.

How should I clean my brushes?

Oil colour brushes can be cleaned with distilled turpentine and white spirit. Water colour and gouache brushes can be cleaned in warm water. Brushes used with acrylic paint can be washed in warm water and maybe a little bit of liquid soap.

Acrylic paint dries very quickly on brushes so make sure that you wash out as much paint as possible during and after use. Try to reshape the brush tip whilst the hairs are still damp and if possible, hang them up to dry with the bristle pointing down.

Can I mix water soluble oil with conventional oil paints?

Yes, but it means that the water soluble paint will no longer be water soluble and will need to be treated as traditional oil colour.

Can you mix different acrylic paints together?

Yes. All acrylic paints are water based and so will happily mix together. However, as different manufacturers use unique formulations, colourfastness and durability of paint cannot be guaranteed by the manufacturers if the ranges are mixed.

What is the difference between the heavy body and flow formula acrylic paints? Can I mix the two together?

Heavy body acrylics such as Liquitex Heavy Body are designed to replicate oils. They are especially suited for the impasto/thick painting technique and are not easily thinned/broken down with water. Flow formula acrylics such as Winsor and Newton’s Galeria are less dense than heavy body acrylics.

They are designed to be easily thinned with water. It is fine to mix the two types of paint together but as they have slightly different compositions, you will not achieve such a stable surface.

What are the advantages of water colour in half pans and tubes?

Half pans are blocks of solid water colour paint. They are ideal for when you are painting outside.

The disadvantage of them is the difficulty of making consistent large amounts of washes. Tubes of liquid paint offer the artist the ability to make large quantities of wash.

What is the difference between china and India ink?

Chinese and Indian ink are similar products in the fact that they are both black inks. The difference is that Indian ink is made using shellac as a binder and Chinese ink uses gum.

Why are some artist quality paints more expensive than others?

The price of an artist quality paint depends greatly on the pigment.

Do I need to fix my pastel and charcoal drawings?

Ideally yes. Chalk pastel and charcoal drawings can be fixed both during working on the piece and as a final coat. This protects the drawing from accidental abrasion and holds the pastel to the support.

Can water colours be painted on cartridge paper?

Water colours are designed to be used on water colour paper. These are internally and externally sized to prevent the paint being absorbed into the paper surface. Cartridge paper isn’t suited to water colour as it is too absorbent and washes can’t be controlled.

What is the best surface on which to use oil and acrylic paints?

The best suited surfaces for oil and acrylic are prepared boards and surfaces. Acrylic is more forgiving in that most non-oily surfaces will take acrylic paint. Oils paints must be painted onto prepared/ gesso primed surfaces. This allows for proper adhesion to the surface.

What is a good, basic colour range?

We suggest the following colours Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue or French Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Burnt and Raw Sienna, Burnt and Raw Umber and Titanium White. You might also find Viridian and Black useful but are not essential.

Which paints are best for outdoor projects?

For painting signs and other outdoor projects we suggest using acrylics for a fast drying option. Liquitex acrylics are strongly recommended for such projects. Oil paints, especially Alkyd Oils are also suitable. Work in oil however, will take longer to dry.

Can I use acrylic primer for painting with oils?

The modern acrylic gesso primer is made as an unrivalled primer for oil, acrylic and gouache applications. It is much easier to use than an oil painting primer as well as it does not require a warm glue size first.

If you have any other technical questions then please don't hesitate to send us a message!

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