Painting with Turpentine

24 Feb 2009

Q: An oil painting I finished a couple of years ago has developed a section that has cracked and fallen off. I never use any medium except turpentine, and always paint "fat over lean.” Since I paint for a living, I'm more than a little concerned about this. The surface was a preprimed (acrylic) canvas. 

Turpentine is a drying agent. A rule of thumb when painting with turpentine or mineral spirits is to use two parts turpentine or mineral spirits to one part safflower or linseed oil, as the oil retains the elasticity of your oil paint. For glazing, it is recommended to use one part mineral spirits to two parts oil. Straight turpentine may leave your artwork with a flat or dull finish. Painting on an acrylic-primed surface is fine, but you cannot paint with acrylic on an oil-primed surface because the paint will eventually peel off. 

--by Camille LaPointe-Lyons

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