Chemistry of Oil Paints and Pigments

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Astrid Green wrote
on 18 Jan 2013 3:00 AM

Hello Guys,


History of Oil Paint: Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists" refers to the invention of oil painting in Europe in the early 15th century. The book credits Jan van Eyck with inventing the technique in 1410. Many art historians argue that other artists used oil paint before van Eyck, though van Eyck may have developed the use of linseed oil as a binding medium.

Paint Components: Oil paints have three components: a pigment, a medium and a diluting agent. Painters combine the colored oil paints with a medium, such as linseed oil, poppy oil or stand oil to help the pigment bind to the canvas, along with a diluting agent, such as turpentine, mineral spirits or odorless paint thinner, to bring the paint to the desired consistency.

Chemical Components of Pigments: Many pigments contain sulfides, which are sulfur atoms attached to two carbon atoms. Most cadmium colors, ultramarine blue and vermilion contain sulfides. Many pigments also contain sulfates and sulfites, which are salts or esters. Sulfate and sulfite pigments include cerulean blue, manganese blue and thioindigo red.

Pigment Interactions: Chemicals in some pigments can interact and interfere with other pigments. For example, pigments with sulfur or sulfide salts can react with the lead in lead white and cause the lead white to darken. If you work with sulfide pigments, such as cadmium reds and yellows, pair them with titanium white or zinc white instead of lead white. If you must use lead white, pair it with pigments that contain sulfates or sulfites instead of sulfides. Such pigments include cerulean blue, manganese blue and thioindigoid red. Azo red and yellow work well as substitutes for cadmium colors.

Pigment and Medium Drying Times: Some specific oil paint pigments tend to dry more slowly than others. Titanium white, ivory black and cadmium yellow tend to dry particularly slowly. Different oil mediums also dry at different rates. Some painters might use a particular medium because it dries more or less slowly. Stand oil dries faster than linseed oil and linseed oil dries faster than poppy oil, for example.

Thanks and Regards
Astrid Green


Pigment Manufacturer

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peterrsergen wrote
on 8 Apr 2013 12:20 AM

Painting is an amazing art which always gives a positive feeling towards the human being. I like to read history about oil painting. I really believe that oil paint makes painting more gorgeous and absolutely creative as well.

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dilepoutee wrote
on 22 Aug 2014 6:16 AM

Great thanks for the link provided..

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