All images on this site are copyright 2018 © Sergio Lopez. No content found on this website can be reproduced for financial gain without written consent by the owner of the copyright.

painting the figure


module 2: Properties of oil paint.

mediums and paint film strength

Mediums that can affect “fat-over-lean.”

Linseed oil is the most basic medium. Be careful about adding too much linseed oil to glaze. Linseed oil yellows over time. Safflower oil yellows less, but is known not to be as strong of a film.


Alkyd is a resin that is added to many mediums to increase drying time, and strengthens the paint film. Based on my study, alkyd mediums can be added in different ratios to achieve different effects without adversely affecting the strength of the layers.

General tips on working with mediums.



  1. They are meant to make the paint act the way you want it to. If your paint is too stiff, add some oil to it to loosen it up (as little as possible, no more that 30% ratio to paint). If paint is too slippery, try adding a “stiffening” medium such as cold wax/Canada balsam. My preference is to start with an oil paint that behaves the way you like out-of-the-tube (refer to module 1)

  2. Stick to fat-over-lean as a best-practice. As you paint, add a slight bit of oil to your paint, and use less solvent to thin it out.

  3. Darker, earthier colors tend to “drink” more oil than other paints. They need more oil mixed into them to keep their gloss.