For years, one of the things that kept me back from painting with oils, was an allergy to them. At the age of 12, my parents bought me a set of oils, which I dove into down in the basement of our bungalow in Oshawa. Less than an hour later, I emerged, hardly able to breathe, my eyes swollen, itchy and my skin all blotchy with hives, as I was trying to paint a picture of a horse. An hour after that, I was in a doctor’s office, getting a massive dose of antihistimines. Needless to say, the oils were packed off to the garbage while I was being packed off to the hospital.
Thirty plus some years later, after painting in years with watercolour and egg tempera, I thought there must be some “modern” solution for me to expand my media.
When I took up painting with oils, I did a lot of reading on what might be the best way to approach it, from a health and useability standpoint. I think my allergy may have been to stand oil – but I’m not about to take a stab at it again without an epipen nearby!
The solution that I found was in M.Graham oils. Based with walnut oils, this did the trick for me! The medium is wonderful, silky smooth and the pigment quality is excellent. I love them, and I wouldn’t trade them again for my watercolours or egg tempera, although each of them does have a spot in my studio and my work.
The walnut oil is non-yellowing over time, unlike some other drying oils, and I find that there are many ways that I have been able to avoid the use of heavier solvents with the walnut. It seems to clean up very well with Murphy’s oil soap, and the M Graham alkyd medium is an excellent way to work through lightening the consistency of the pigment-rich paint.
Overall, I love my “new” medium and the way that the oils are performing. The happiest thing of all – is that I can actually use oil paints now without having a terrible allergic reaction.