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Alkyd Paint and Alkyd Mediums

Alkyd paint mediums are relatively new but are quickly becoming very popular in oil painting. At the present, only one manufacturer, Winsor & Newton, offers a complete line of alkyd paint and alkyd mediums (such as alkyd drying oil), other oil paint makers are hurrying to offer alkyd paint and alkyd mediums with at least their own version of an all purpose alkyd paint medium.

Alkyd paint mediums have several distinct advantages. First of all, when mixed with oil paint, they accelerate drying time (alkyd drying oil). They also increase the transparency of oil paint colors. Both of these attributes, needless to say, have made them excellent oil glazing mediums. But alkyd paint mediums also offer something more: They give oil paints a more lustrous, jewel like quality and a stronger longer lasting oil paint film.

Alkyd paint mediums come in 2 forms: as thick, translucent gels or heavy bodied painting oils that resemble the 'bodied' natural drying oils such stand oil and sun thickened linseed oil. Alkyd gels are officially described s 'thixotropic', a word from the Greek meaning 'to change by touch.' They are thick, viscous, translucent amber- or golden-colored pastes that come in either jars or tubes. They remain gel-like on the palette but become smooth and transparent when worked (touched) with a brush or knife. Alkyd paint are versatile in that they can be used either in heavy, direct painting techniques or in smooth glazing applications.


Liquin was developed by Winsor & Newton 40 years ago and seems to be the most prevalent alkyd paint in use today. Liquin is a mixture of natural oils and alkyd resins and it physically resembles a cloudy , congealed mixture of rabbit skin glue. However, when mixed with oil paints, liquin becomes perfectly clear and its texture smooth. Liquin makes paint applications smoother, slicker, and more lustrous. Also, like most alkyd paint, it is non migratory - meaning that you can make very fluid brushstrokes without fear of the oil paint dripping or flowing into other areas of the picture.

Perhaps the best use of Liquin is as a glazing medium, since it accelerates drying as well as makes oil paint colors more transparent. Moreover, the alkyd paint resin in Liquin tends to yellow less than natural oils and produces a stronger, more flexible paint film when dry. Glazing is a time consuming technique because it requires drying time between paint layers. Liquin speeds up this entire process so much that it becomes possible to apply multiple glazes in one sitting. 


Galkyd, or Painting Medium #1, as it is sometimes  called, is an alkyd - based paint medium made by Gamblin that is indistinguishable from linseed oil in appearance. Galkyd paint dries more slowly than Liquin but faster than linseed oil. It is an excellent, non  yellowing oil that can be used effectively in glazing as well as in direct paining technique. It dries to a clear, flexible, satiny finish. In addition to being a great painting medium, Galkyd has the advantage of being almost tally odorless.