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Monday, November 9, 2015

What Paints Work with Cold Wax?

Undersea    Oil/Cold Wax on Arches Oil Paper

Since my book on cold wax painting came out, I've been getting queries about whether cold wax can be used with acrylic or watercolor. As I mentioned in a previous post, cold wax can be used as a sealent over water-based media pieces. However, it just doesn't work to mix up the water based media with cold wax.

I am experimenting with mixing Ceracolors with cold wax. Ceracolors is a new wax paint, which is water-soluble. I'm thinking that because the paint is made of wax that it will mix okay with the cold wax medium. So far, it looks good, though I don't know anything about whether it will be archival or work in the long run. I plan to run questions by the experts at paint companies and see what they say.

Quite a few artists, especially mixed media artists, seem reluctant to use oil paint. Of course there are some with allergies, so that's understandable. I suspect some people are concerned about toxicity. Certainly in the Old Master days, many commonly used pigments were highly toxic, like Lead White. Some artists still use Lead White. I don't because I am very messy and would likely ingest lead somehow. I use Titanium or Zinc White which are not toxic, unless you eat them. 

The cadmium colors are also toxic. I make sure to use gloves when I use them, and not to smear them on my skin.(I do usually smear a fair amount of paint on my skin, unintentionally.) Most paint companies make very nice colors called Cadmium Yellow (or Red or whatever) Hue. The hue designation means that the paint is close to the color of the cadmium paint but does not contain cadmium. The same with Cerulean Blue, which is so expensive that many prefer to buy the "hue" version anyway. So if you are worried about toxicity, learn online about what colors are toxic and which are safe. Wear gloves when using oil paint. Use odorless mineral spirits, such as Gamsol if you use a thinner and wash off any oil paint you get on your skin. Yes, this is more complicated than using acrylic, but it will soon become second nature to use oil paints safely and happily.

I'd love to hear from readers--If you are reluctant to use oil paint, comment and tell me your concerns. We can have some interesting discussions! 


  1. Gorgeous painting Serena! Very interesting post too. I had never thought of the possible hazards of working with oils because when I was a kid I used to paint those oil based paint by number kits quite often and I don't recall there being any kind of warning back then. I think the most important message here is to use gloves-something I am doing for the very first time since working with these mediums. Thanks for all your helpful information!
    PS I just finished my second oil and wax piece :)

  2. Interesting point, Linda about the paint by numbers set. I used those also as a kid, but back then we didn't have car seats either! I really am not afraid of oil paints and I'm glad you aren't either:)