Give Water Soluble Oils A Try

S.O.F.A. member Denise Laurent wants to encourage artists to give water mixable oils a try. Here are her recommendations for a starter kit.

Miss Honey  oil on board
Miss Honey by Denise Laurent

Over the years I’ve met many artists who’ve wanted to try painting in oils but they’ve been put off by the down side of oil painting, the need for solvents like turps and white spirit. For many people using hazardous materials in the home or studio is not an option. There’s the smell, problems with allergies and concerns about safety around kids and pets. But there’s a very easy way to get started with oil painting without any of these worries, water soluble oils.

Moose by Denise Laurent
Moose by Denise Laurent

Working with water soluble oils is a joy. I’ve been painting with them for years now, they’re very easy and simple to use. Good quality water mixable oils are just like other oil paints except for the additive that makes them water soluble. They look, feel and handle the same way. The difference is you can thin the paint with water instead of solvent, and wash your brushes  with water  too, so no nasty or dangerous fumes. It makes it easy to clean up after a painting session so it’s something you can do on the kitchen table without a lot of complicated equipment.

Holbein Aqua Duo SetI use Holbein Aqua Duo from Jackson’s here in the UK, but available in other countries too. A superb range of high quality water soluble oils. Jackson’s has a starter set of 4 20ml tubes that would be perfect for anyone wanting to give oils a try.
Jackson’s also have  their own range of Jackson’s Aqua oils. Lovely soft paints to use, they flow off the brush and blend beautifully. They’re a very good price too! There are now water soluble oils from other companies too, like Daniel Smith and Talens.

Jacksons aqua oils

You’ll need a couple of brushes and they need to be suitable for  acrylic painting because they’re going to see a fair bit of water. If you don’t have any already try one of each of these;  Jackson’s Akoya brushes, stiff white synthetic bristle brushes that are great for working with thicker paint, and Jackson’s Procryl brushes,  a little softer than the Akoya and great for thinner layers of paint and blending colours together. These or something similar will get you started.

procryl and akoya brushes

You can buy some pretty cheap canvases these days but personally I think a great surface to work on is oil paper. It comes as a pads or blocks and I think it’s much less intimidating than a blank stretched canvas, staring at you as if daring you to spoil its lovely white surface!  A paper block is easy to use and easy to store. Daler Rowney, Arches,  Clairefontaine and Hahnemühle all make good ones.

Here’s an oil sketch on Arches oil paper…

Oil sketch on Arches oil paper
Oil sketch on Arches oil paper

And here’s a close up of the paint on the surface of the paper…

A close up detail of the oil sketch on paper
A close up detail of the oil sketch on paper

So why not give water soluble oils a try? They are easy to use, easy to clean up, no nasty smells and you can try them without breaking the bank. And you might just fall in love with oil painting.

By Denise Laurent S.O.F.A.
The Painted Cat Art on Facebook

Do you have particular materials or techniques you’d like to recommend to other members? Do you have a particular brand of paint or pastels you love to use? Where do you buy your supplies from, do you have a great local art supply shop or do you use an online store? If so we’d like to feature you and your work along with those recommendations on the blog. Contact the editor.

One thought on “Give Water Soluble Oils A Try

  1. Thanks. Your encouragement to try WMOs very helpful as am about to start out with W&N and Jackson’s brands.
    Tried to follow your links to the Jackson’s brushes, unfortunately over time they have broken.
    Regards, Philip

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