Do You Need Paint Thinner for Paint and Sip?

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When I prepare for paint and sip parties, I tend to pack more art supplies than I will need. After all, you never know what is going to crop up, and I always like to be prepared.

For instance, there may be times when the paint needs to be thinned, especially if the paint party students are working with oil paints, paint thinner is needed. There are many uses of paint thinner including cleaning paint brushes.

I usually keep a few different types of products on-hand for this purpose, and even if I don’t use them at paint parties, I do discuss them with the class.

Today we are going to take a look at the various materials that can be used as paint thinners, so you have a better understanding of these products before your next painting event.

Let’s get started.

Types of Solvents

First I’d like to talk about using solvents as paint thinners. Solvents are usually used for oil paints, and not only can they be used to thin paint and clean brushes, but they can also help to make the drying time faster.

Some of the most commonly-used solvents include:

#1. Turpentine

Turpentine is watery and it dries quickly. It is often used to thin down oil paints because it makes drying time faster. This is because it doesn’t take long for turpentine to evaporate.

The only drawback to using turpentine is that it has a very strong odor. It must be used in a well-ventilated area.

#2. Odorless Mineral Spirits

If you or any of your paint and sip party guests have allergies, I recommend using odorless mineral solvents instead of turpentine. There aren’t going to be nearly as many harsh fumes, and mineral solvents evaporate as fast as turpentine does.

Mineral spirits are great for cleaning oil paint from paintbrushes. They can also be used for under-painting (backgrounds).

#3. Spike Lavender Oil

If you are worried about paint party guests reacting to some solvents, you may prefer to use Spike Lavender Oil, which is non-toxic. It does have a lavender scent, so make sure that no one has scent allergies before using this product.

One of the coolest things about this oil is that it makes paint colors appear more intense. The finished product is smooth and matte. You can even use this oil for blending with colored pencils!

The biggest drawback to using this oil is that it is quite expensive, so I don’t usually bring it along when there are going to be large groups of people using the products.

#4. Citrus Solvents

There are many citrus solvents available that work as well as turpentine and mineral spirits, but they give off no fumes. Some of these solvents are made with water and citrus peel oil.

Paint that has been thinned with a citrus solvent has a clear, matte finish. This is also one of the least expensive options for paint thinner.

I find this the best choice for my work because I have environmental allergies. I don’t seem to have a problem with citrus scents.

Solvent Safety Tips

While solvents aren’t too dangerous to work with, there are some things you need to consider when handling and working with them.

This is especially true when you have a group of artists at a painting party because it often seems like everyone is trying to do the same thing at the same time. Here are some solvent safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Make sure there is plenty of ventilation. I suggest opening windows and/or using a fan.
  • Wear gloves when working with solvents to avoid skin irritation.
  • Store rags used with thinners in an airtight container, and in a cool, dark area.

Using Mediums as Paint Thinners

If you would rather not use solvents at your paint and sip party, there are other options. For instance, many mediums can be used to thin paint.

A medium is a substance that is generally oil-based. It will change the finish of the painting, speed up drying time, change the viscosity, etc., and they can be used as paint thinners.

How to Use Mediums as Paint Thinners

It is pretty easy to use some mediums as paint thinners. I often like to use a paint retarder when using acrylic paints. This helps them to stay wet long enough for blending and other techniques.

I often bring paint retarders and other mediums to painting parties. Because many people will be using it, I just pour a little bit into a small container for each paint night guest.

The students can dip small brushes into the medium, and then mix it into the paint on their palettes. I find that mediums are best used when painting in layers, using the mediums on the middle and upper layers.

One of the great things about mediums is that they have many uses. They can be used to create brush strokes that are thick and striking, or in other words, the impasto technique.

They can also be used as glazes, and to add depth to paint and sip paintings.

Using Oils to Thin Paints

Many different types of oils can be used to thin paints. As a bonus, they can also be used to make the paint look “fatter” and glossier.

I don’t usually recommend using any oils for paint and sip parties, because they add to the drying time. But, it is good to know about them in any case.

Let’s take a look at the most commonly-used oils for thinning paints.

#1. Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is a paint thinner substitute that is commonly used with oil paints. It makes the paint even oilier, and it adds a lot of shine. I don’t tend to use linseed oil at sip and paint parties though, because it adds to the drying time.

#2. Stand Oil

Stand oil is just linseed oil that has been reheated. It is paler than linseed oil, and it is more viscous, so your paintings will turn out nice and glossy. I like this better than linseed oil because it doesn’t leave a yellow tint on my paintings.

#3. Poppy Oil

Poppy oil is a natural oil that can be used for thinning paints. But, for paint and sip parties, it is not ideal because it dries even slower than linseed oil.

Another option would be to use safflower oil, which is similar but dries a whole lot faster.

#4. Walnut Oil

Walnut oil is also a lot like linseed oil, but it dries slower. I usually only use walnut oil when I want to add one final layer to my oil paintings.

You can check my detailed guide on how to thin oil-based paint for more tips.

Final Thoughts

Even when using acrylic paints at paint and wine parties, there may be times when the paint needs to be thinned out. Plus, you always need to clean your brushes after the party is over.

Using a paint thinner can help for both of these purposes, and they have other benefits as well, including adding texture to paintings or adding a glossy final coat.

For painting parties, I recommend using turpentine in well-ventilated areas or using citrus solvents, which actually smell nice. Both will do the trick, and they aren’t as messy as mediums and oils. Make sure you learn to dispose of paint thinner properly every time you use it.

*image by londondeposit/depositphotos