Ask Our Expert

SAA PA Steve Williams is a mine of useful information about art techniques and products, and here he suggests some solutions to your artistic dilemmas

Q Is it necessary to prime the board/canvas before using water based oils, and if so what should I use? Can these water based oils be used in exactly the same way as oil based, for instance, using a palette knife?
Jane Doriano

A Canvases are generally coated with a product similar to gesso, which in effect seals the surface, so you can paint directly onto it without priming. With a board it depends on the surface: if it’s MDF then it must be primed otherwise the oils will sink in, possibly causing the paint to dry out too much. Two or three coats of gesso would give an ideal surface to paint on.

The Winsor & Newton Artisan products are not strictly water based oils, but water thinnable oils, and there is a difference. A ‘water based’ product would probably be based upon acrylic resins or emulsions, whereas water thinnable oils have been treated by a process called saponification, which is generally the process used for making soap. In a nutshell, the oil binder is reacted with a strong alkali, which then allows the oil binder to be thinned with water. Water thinnable oils work just like conventional oil paints, and you will certainly be able to use the product with both brushes and palette knives, but you have the advantage of washing out your brushes and knives with water.

The paint is, as its name suggests, thinnable with water, making it a good starting point for anyone keen to have a go at oils. As a final point, although brushes may be washed out with water, it is good practice to wash your brushes thoroughly in warm soapy water then rinse them with clean water, as there may be deposits of oil which could build up on bristles. Full details can be found in the Home Shop

 

Q I am fairly new to watercolours and am looking for tips on painting big dramatic clouds. Any suggestions?
Margaret Murray

A I run demonstrations and workshops in both watercolour and acrylic and I love busy skies! We are all different, but my way of approaching a sky as you describe would be to firstly ensure that you stretch your paper; there's nothing worse than trying to lay a smooth wash and have a ripple leave a darker patch, probably leading to a cauliflower! After I've stretched my paper, I wet the sky area down to the horizon line if it’s either a landscape or seascape.

Then with a fairly strong mixture of Cobalt Blue, I randomly lay in areas of the sky I want to be blue, leaving plenty of white paper. Into the Cobalt Blue on the paper, I then lay in some areas with Burnt Umber, and let that spread into both the blue and the white areas of paper. I sometimes use a dab of kitchen towel to lift out the odd cloud, but I much prefer to use what I call the ‘paint magnet’, which is a clean brush, dipped in clean water and squeezed out between finger and thumb.

If you have a question for Steve, please email expert@saa.co.uk or write to Head Office marking your envelope ‘Ask our Expert’


Ask Our Expert

SAA PA Steve Williams is a mine of useful information about art techniques and products, and here he suggests some solutions to your artistic dilemmas

Q Is it necessary to prime the board/canvas before using water based oils, and if so what should I use? Can these water based oils be used in exactly the same way as oil based, for instance, using a palette knife?
Jane Doriano

A Canvases are generally coated with a product similar to gesso, which in effect seals the surface, so you can paint directly onto it without priming. With a board it depends on the surface: if it’s MDF then it must be primed otherwise the oils will sink in, possibly causing the paint to dry out too much. Two or three coats of gesso would give an ideal surface to paint on.

The Winsor & Newton Artisan products are not strictly water based oils, but water thinnable oils, and there is a difference. A ‘water based’ product would probably be based upon acrylic resins or emulsions, whereas water thinnable oils have been treated by a process called saponification, which is generally the process used for making soap. In a nutshell, the oil binder is reacted with a strong alkali, which then allows the oil binder to be thinned with water. Water thinnable oils work just like conventional oil paints, and you will certainly be able to use the product with both brushes and palette knives, but you have the advantage of washing out your brushes and knives with water.

The paint is, as its name suggests, thinnable with water, making it a good starting point for anyone keen to have a go at oils. As a final point, although brushes may be washed out with water, it is good practice to wash your brushes thoroughly in warm soapy water then rinse them with clean water, as there may be deposits of oil which could build up on bristles. Full details can be found in the Home Shop

[accordions title="" active=3 event="click" collapsible=true disabled=false autoheight=false]
[accordion title="Read the rest of this article"]

Already a member?

Members Click here to log in and access the full article.


Not yet a member of the SAA?

Access to the full article is reserved for SAA members only.  If you are not a member of the SAA, then find out more about joining here.

As well as access to this article and more, just some of benefits SAA membership provides are:

  • The inspirational PAINT magazine delivered for FREE six times a year
  • Interact with like-minded artists and find your place in the UK’s largest art community
  • Full access to the PAINT article reference library
  • FREE welcome pack including practical help, advice and gifts
  • Exclusive discounts, member-only offers and FREE P&P on thousands of brand name art supplies

Join the worlds biggest and friendliest art society

Whether you're just starting out or you've been painting for years, being a member of the SAA can help to encourage and inspire you for years to come.

Join today from as little as £27.50 a year.

A recent review from a member

”I heard about the SAA through my Art Group and a friend let me have some old copies of PAINT magazine to look at. I was immediately impressed with the articles and the help inside and wrote away for the free sample of the magazine. Well that clinched it! I joined up the next day and using the easy website began buying artists materials on their Home Shop. They were much cheaper than other suppliers.

They send a welcome pack with a hard copy of the catalogue, which is glossy and a good flick through for selection of materials and DVDs etc. PAINT magazine is full of helpful and inspiring articles, and I keep my copies close to hand in my studio for reference.”

Vanessa Bavington

[/accordion]

[/accordions]