Select Delivery Region:
Our magazines
In this section

Oiling out...on paper?

Timothy Holmes

Posted on Wed 01 Nov 2017

About a year ago I started painting with oil paints on coloured paper and card once again. The reason for this was to save space and also to be able to produce smaller sketches that could be done during an evening after work. Apart from that, I rather like how quickly the first layers dry on the absorbent paper and the rather grainy effect of the top layers as the paint dries. I had started oil painting this way back in school. Of course, there was no canvas there so I used whatever paper and card I could find.

If you paint in oils on board (HDF) and canvas, you’ll know how the colours fade and go dull and grey down as they dry. After just a few weeks some subtle skin tones for example, can look really bland and appear to have lost their true hues.

To remedy this and bring back the full colour, I oil out the paintings with an oil medium on a soft lint-free cloth… but only when the painting is touch dry. The result always brings a pleasant surprise when I watch those original colours reappear. Also, through the oil medium, the sheen of the wet colours returns and remains even when the oil medium is dry. This sheen is more pronounced on work painted on board than on canvas, probably due to the hard surface.

But here is the more interesting bit. Seeing how my bright colours had dulled on the oil sketches I made on paper, I was curious to see if I could oil them out too.

So, I tried a few sketches. It seems to work just as well! Colour and depth is restored! Now I’d better wait a year to see if that little experiment will be damage-free.

Anyone else had any experiences with this?

Oiling out...on paper?


Please login or register to enter your comment click here

  • I saw this by chance and it interests me because I often paint on mdf, usually after a coat of gesso. The colours still dull down because of the absorbency so I will def oil out and see what happens. I also paint straight on to mountboard, especially outside, again, never thought of overlaying with a medium, will try that. When you talk about medium, do you mix your own or would liquin , thinned down, be ok?
    One thing I have done is oil the mdf surface before painting. This seals it a bit and you can paint on It immediately. By thw way Timothy, your work space looks so organised, I am forever tripping up

    Posted by Marjorie Firth on Wed 01 Nov 18:51:46
  • Hi Marjorie,

    First of all, if you use 5 mm thick MDF/HDF then I would recommend more than "a coat". Give it 2 rough coats of Gesso on the back and 3 even 4 on the front. I find hat gives me a good strong high white slightly textured board to work on which allows me to put lots of paint on. The back coats help to keep the boards from warping a bit.

    The Oil medium, worked gently into the picture in a circular motion outwards, will bring back the true colours. On larger boards with a lot of paint I sometimes oil it out twice. I usually find my daubs on board dry in 2-3 weeks (thats is touch dry)...but when touch-dry it should be ok to oil out.But if you have used a lot of rich black in the picture like I often do...wait twice as long before oiling out.

    Quite often when I get that sheen back, i tend to leave it without a varnish. Varnishing paintings on board comes up quiet glossy, but of course there are matt varnishes too.

    For oiling out I use the Oil medium L 042 by Schminke (German)....though I seem to remember their products are available in the UK to.....and I am sure Windsor and Newton do one. I am sure I have seen it. is it W&N Artists’ Painting Medium..I think so. Its honey coloured and sets like slightly lumpy gel in the bottle, so it needs a damned good shake up before you start. Once shaken really well it becomes more liquified. Make sure you use a lint-free cloth to apply. 2-3 days at most to dry (upright).

    This is just the small table. The two other larger tables are a complete mess of rags, pastels, charcoal, brushes, squeegees, name it. But I never met an artist who was tidy.

    I'll see if I can send you a pic of the Schminke might help at the art shop.

    Posted by Timothy Holmes on Wed 01 Nov 19:23:04

    There you go Marjorie.

    Posted by Timothy Holmes on Wed 01 Nov 19:28:32
  • Thanks Timothy for all that useful info!

    Posted by Marjorie Firth on Wed 01 Nov 21:08:31