How To Make Oil Paintings With Different Paint Thinners


Start with a Demo: How to Make Oil Paintings using Thinners

Thinners, thickeners, oils and other mediums open up all sorts of artistic opportunities. This month I’ve been focusing on using mineral spirits as a thinner in my dog paintings and portraits, working wet-on wet.
In the video below, you can really see how colours move with the solvent. There’s a really fun element of unpredictability that thinners add to oil paintings, especially when they get drippy. Just make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated space if you work with Mineral Spirits or Turpentine.
In the above video, you can see how the liquid runs with the colour and takes it to sometimes unexpected places. Working this way, I’ve allowed broad blooms and brushstrokes to form the background, taking it a step further than what I was doing in the recent Corgi Butt Series.
These colourful washes cover the canvas completely, so when I go back with my titanium white I can really make my highlights pop!
In the example above, I’ve added more white around the Keesond’s head, which stands out thanks to the umber wash. This gives me the dark-on-light contrast that I want, so the final piece is dramatic and visually impactful.
Once an oil painting is finished, you can further affect the surface textures and how colour is perceived using glazes and varnishes.

Another Example of Thinners that Run when you Make Oil Paintings

In the video below, you can see another example of how the pigment runs with the thinner continuously as I work on the background, and how the quality of mark changes in day two when things have firmed up.

Whether I’m working on custom pet portraits or my own paintings for display, I’m always looking for new ways to push my mark-making abilities and create new and exciting work.
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Zann Hemphill

Zann Hemphill is a practising pet portrait artist, writer, and video producer.

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