I had this negative experience with (El Greco) acrylic paints as described in my previous question How can I make my old acrylic paints dissolve and flow freely again? I tried once more to carefully mix my acrylic paints with water, I tried to do this with Amsterdam brand as well, but the results were miserable - I could not get flowing colors free, there were always lumps and clots and the water and the acrylic were not mixing well. I have heard about acrylic flow improver, but my local store offers only so called "mediums" for acrylic and the flow improvement is not mentioned as good properties for them.

So - now I am eager to try oil colors paints. There are specializes flax or popseed oils that are marketed as solvents and so - I hope that strong chemistry will make my oil pants into watercolor and tempera quality flowing paints.

So - is it reasonable to expect that oil paints technique will create more flowing and easy-to-work paints without lumps and clots than acrylic colors?

Especially I am looking to try van Gogh brand of oil paints together with popseed oil.

Or maybe I should user terpentine with oils, instead of popseed oil?

  • bump: It sounds like the acrylic paint has polymerized, ie started to "dry" otherwise it should easily mix and thin consistently with water or acrylic mediums. Flow-improver is more about getting the paint to spread nicely especially on less compatible surfaces than it is about thinning the paints. Oil paints are such a different beast than acrylics in terms of look and use that there should be more intent behind switching than just getting the lumps out.
    – rebusB
    Commented Jun 7 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


Well, oil paints will be smoother, yes, but you need to know a few things about how it all works, or you will make mistakes.

Oil paint from Van Gogh uses linseed oil. To make a wash, you would add thinner, classically turpentine. The thinner will dry the oil faster, and probably be more like watercolors. Poppyseed is a slow drying oil, and will eventually yellow to some degree, but less than linseed. The finest oil to use is food grade cold pressed almond oil, it makes paint buttery. But don’t eat paint!

If you add thinner, the paint is lean. If you add oil it is fat. You want to make sure that the layers dry consecutively, so you would paint fat over lean. If you don’t, you will face cracking at some point in the not too distant future.

If you want the paint to dry in a matter of days instead of weeks or months, you can purchase a drying agent commonly known as a Japan drier or more technically, a saponifier. Don’t use much and mix it well with the paint. This will generally add a slight blue to your tint and depending on the brand it will make it glossy. I like to use it when glazing, because glazing takes weeks (or even months) to do in the traditional fashion, and the glossy nature is expected.

Don’t get the paint or thinner on your skin, always ventilate while you are painting and keep small children and pets away from your paint.

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