Product Reviews: SyntaxofColor

Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel

A constant questions asked by artists who chat online is  finding the source of a medium that is a solvent free paint modifier.  Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel provides the answer.  

The introduction of alkyds for artists has maintained a marriage between solvents and the alkyd resin.  The solvents appeared to provide a way to manipulate the viscosity by thinning the alkyd resin to make it brushable and to help to speed drying.  Until recently, finding a fast drying alkyd medium without employing solvents was impossible.  So artists were forced to give up using solvents and gel or related mediums and only use a drying oil alone as a paint modifier.  Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel expands the painter's vocabulary.

Without solvents, Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel medium can modify oil paints and still be friendly to the health of an artist.  Using a combination of safflower oil and alkyd resin, the gel behaves in much the same way as Galkyd gel medium has worked, but without any petroleum distilate products involved.  The company cautions that the medium should not exceed 25% of the paint mixture by volume.


If you want a simple way to avoid exceeding the 25% ceiling for use of this gel medium, lay out an extrusion of paint in a straight line, rather than holding a paint tube straight down or at a slight angle and pushing out a blob of paint.  Let's say you lay out a 1 inch line of paint.  Lay next to the paint, just les than a 1/4 inch line of gel of the same diameter as the paint extrusion from the tube.  This takes a bit of practice to do because the Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel tube oriface is the diameter of a large 120 ml. tube as opposed to the diameter of a standard 40 ml. tube.  It just takes a bit of repitition to master creating an appropriate line of gel to avoid exceeding the 25% limit.

Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel will allow an artist to create semi-transparent paint that maintains a fairly thick consistency.  It will work well as a glazing medium but if a thiner application is required, a small dab of linseed or safflower oil will thin the mixture to expand the flow properties of the paint.  Remember, the gel and any added oil will increase the gloss of the final paint application.

Enjoy this addition to the host of media tools available to artists, especially welcome to those who desire to eliminate or avoid the use of solvents when painting.