Archival Mediums

Archival Odourless Mediums and Solvents are based on fast drying alkyd resins which out perform ‘traditional’ mediums and are better for health. They evaporate much more slowly than turpentines so that very little vapour is generated during a painting session.

The main reason why artists develop allergic reactions to oil painting, is not because of the paint but because of the toxicity of traditional mediums. Oil paints are relatively non-hazardous in themselves.

Traditional mediums evaporate very fast releasing toxic vapors which cause health problems. Aromatic solvents like gum or mineral turpentine will affect your health with years of regular use because you cannot escape the fumes. Using toxic solvents and mediums in public shared spaces is like passive smoking. Ultimately it is best to avoid these types of solvents.

All of the Archival Mediums use low toxic odourless solvents.

Non-toxic Solvents

Paint companies do not ‘invent’ odourless solvents: they have been around for many years and are supplied by the major oil companies. They are petrochemicals, with the toxic aromatic (smelly) fractions removed, making them much less toxic than gum turpentine, mineral turpentine, or white spirit.

Odourless solvents are much slower evaporating than turpentines, so that very little vapour is generated during a painting session, and this factor is more important than the lower toxicity itself – they do, however, evaporate over time.

Drying racks as well as work spaces still need to be ventilated and painters in lofts should not recirculate the same studio air in living and sleeping areas because a slow vapour build up could become toxic.

Archival Mediums Are Flexible Like Archival Oils

It is important not to use other brands of mediums with Archival Oils because they would introduce brittle layers. The flexibility of Archival Oils, when used with Archival Mediums, is such that overpainted layers can stretch to accommodate movement as the painting settles down and cures and this is why they can be used with such freedom of technique.

The Archival Mediums, are based on fast drying alkyd resins and present an array of possible techniques beyond what is possible with ‘traditional’ mediums.

Choose the Medium that Suits Your Technique

Archival Mediums are easy to work with. They:

  • Are flexible
  • Can be used interchangeably
  • Can be selected according to their consistency eg: Smooth Gel and Texture Gel for thick paint; Flow Gel for a more fluid effect with very good control for either smooth or ‘painterly’ applications (Flow Gel is also ideal for laying in, and replaces the smelly and toxic traditional method using turpentine or fast evaporating mediums); and Lean Medium, a liquid medium, for diluting Archival Oils, glazing and other thin applications.
  • Can be mixed to suit an artist’s specific needs e.g. Flow Gel with a little Lean Medium added.
Archival Odourless Solvent

Archival Odourless Solvent

A general purpose, low toxicity solvent which may be used as a safe replacement to gum and mineral turpentine for thinning paint and cleaning brushes.

Archival Lean Medium

Archival Lean Medium

Is a very fluid general purpose medium for reducing paint viscosity, and can be used at all stages in a painting which does not need gels. It can also be mixed with Archival Flow Gel if a little bodying up is preferred.

Archival Classic Medium

Archival Classic Medium

A Medium for Painters who prefer slower drying.

Most artists show a strong preference for fast drying paint but there are some painters who want to slow down the process, so our range includes Classic Medium based on stand oil (modified to be flexible).

This slow drying medium is ideal for thinning paint whilst maintaining a rich, luminous finish once dry. It gives greater control for detail work and longer manipulation time for over-painting, glazing and wet-in-wet techniques. It can be used throughout a long painting process or for slow glazing on top of fast underpainting but fast drying mediums should never be used over the top of Classic Medium. The tension between the paint layers caused by the different drying speeds may be strong enough to crack even Archival.

Archival Fat Medium

Archival Fat Medium

This syrupy, heavy bodied liquid medium contains high solids. It promotes faster, more thorough drying of oils, increasing gloss and flow for enamel-like effects. It can also be added to Lean Medium if a more glossy effect is desired.

Recommended for experienced painters who work all day on the same painting.

Archival Smooth Gel

Archival Smooth Gel

A gel that helps move oil paint around easily whilst retaining texture and brush marks. It must be used 50/50 with paint applied in thick impasto (15-60mm). It is also used by painters who want less extreme applications of paint to dry quickly and retain mark and texture, while being at the same time brushable and easy to manipulate. This applied paint sets up before it dries, facilitating wet-on-wet techniques but it also blends wet-in-wet when worked in with the brush or knife.

Archival Texture Gel

Archival Texture Gel (Coming Soon)

A variation of Smooth Gel which contains ceramic beads for a gritty texture to add aesthetic appeal to thickly applied paint. Moves easily when mixed, then firms up on the painting. This keeps oil colour separate wet-on-wet or blendable for wet-in-wet techniques.

Archival Flow Gel

Archival Flow Gel

Is a loose gel which liquefies when brushed and stays in place when ‘at rest,’ making it useful for developing new techniques. Although it will ‘sit still’ on the painting, if you brush back into it you can blend easily because it moves again when you move your brush into it, until such time as it starts to tack up and dry (within a 3 hour session). You can also brush lightly over it wet-on-wet.

Using the Gel Mediums

The gel mediums, including Flow Gel can be put out conveniently on a palette. It is best not to put out more of any medium than will be used in one day because they are quick drying. Flow Gel liquefies when picked up on a brush.

Many artists use the gel mediums to speed up the drying process of their paintings. Unmixed paint on the palette remains useable longer.

As well as being interchangeable, the gel mediums are designed so they do not increase gloss levels resulting unwanted glossy patches on a painting. The Importance of Gels for Thickly Applied Paint. An artist who uses thickly applied oil paint needs to use one of the above GEL mediums. If you are using thick paint alone, the interior of thick dobs of paint will be like a soft centred chocolate even 6 months to 18 months after application. You can check this by making an incision with a Stanley knife.

You are in a danger zone – the ‘old masters’ didn’t do what you are doing and oil paint needs oxygen to cure. These alkyd based mediums stabilise the oil paint and thick slabs of paint will cure properly without stress or wrinkling.

The mediums also have an obvious economizing effect on paint use if the paint is highly pigmented like Archival Oils.

Gels and Wet on Wet Application

The gel mediums have another important characteristic for wet-on-wet painting: