Linseed oil artists’ paints

Ottosson’s artist oil paint is based on simplicity and purity, with cold-pressed, aged raw linseed oil as a binder, and pure genuine color pigments that are allowed to retain their unique properties. Of course, there is also a little secret in every colorist’s recipe book, and it remains a secret. Because Ottosson’s Färgmakeri was started by an artist, the business started in the 1980s with the artist’s paint products. Linseed oil paint for artists differs from building paint in one important aspect: viscosity. For artists to be able to control color to and provide the desired expression, the starting point is a thicker color paste that can be diluted with various media, such as linseed oil, balsamic turpentine, desiccant, or varnish. The color paste must be well ground so that the pigments are not too coarse; however, some pigments can lose their luster if they are ground too finely. Color pigments have different drying properties and resulting structures. They are individuals. One of the major challenges facing paint manufacturers is retaining a pigment’s properties while also giving the artist a feeling that the paint is “the same product”, regardless of whether it is a red, yellow, or blue color paste that comes out of the tube.

Watercolor paints

Watercolor paints have a binder that consists of selected pieces of gum arabic, honey, glycerin, arrowroot, and distilled water. Gum arabic was known to the ancient Egyptians and consists of hardened sap from the Acacia senegal tree, which belongs to the legume group. What makes gum arabic so special is that it is water-soluble, unlike other resins that are extracted from wood, which are usually only turpentine-soluble. Oil paint dries in a chemical process and forms a homogeneous film if exposed to air. After a chemical process, the dried color film cannot be dissolved again. Watercolor paint, on the other hand, dries in a physical process. An example of a physical process is dissolving sugar in water. When the water evaporates, the sugar remains in its original form in the glass. The watercolor binders of gum arabic, honey, and glycerin are all soluble in water. Therefore, when a watercolor has dried, it can be dissolved again. By extension, this means that a watercolor painting is easy to change or completely remove with water, and the artist can start all over again.

The choice of pigment differs slightly from the pigment for artist oil paints. For watercolor paints, we have consistently tried to choose transparent and luminous pigments. For example, we chose cobalt green instead of chromium oxide green, irgazine instead of cadmium, bone black instead of iron oxide black, and so on. We disperse the paint on granite stone rollers instead of steel rollers to avoid color distortion.

About cadmium pigments

When it comes to pigment selection, the artist turns again and again to certain special pigments. One such pigment is cadmium, which is available in shades from lemon yellow to dark red. It is difficult to find equivalents to cadmium pigments; therefore, environmental legislation has allowed cadmium pigment use for artistic purposes, despite its classification as hazardous to health and the environment. If artists of the future want the excellent performance of cadmium pigments, they must have the discipline to wash brushes in separate containers that are turned in at stations for environmentally hazardous waste. This applies to all brush washing; standing in the studio and washing brushes under running water is not desirable. Wash in resealable containers!

Technical advice

Giving technical advice for our artist paints feels a bit wrong, because all artists gradually develop their own technology in relation to the color material. Generally, our artist oil paints work best when you follow the rules of linseed oil. Paint directly and wet-on-wet (alla prima) without intermediate drying, or paint in several thin layers and wait for drying times to pass. To speed up drying of the paint, careful use of a desiccant (drying agent) is recommended, preferably in combination with sun-oxidized linseed oil and possibly some type of solvent. When working with watercolor paints there is no specific advice, except that it is possible to paint with Levantine natural sponges and rags to quickly cover large areas.