The internet is awash with questions like, "can I do lino printing with oil paint?" and, "why not?", and all the bargaining in between, because to the uninitiated, all coloured pigments look as if they'll do the same things.
The internet is awash with questions like, “can I do lino printing with oil paint?” and, “why not?”, and all the bargaining in between, because to the uninitiated, all coloured pigments look as if they’ll do the same things.
Most of the questions I get from my friends about art materials have to do with whether they can just use the paint they’ve already got as a substitute for whatever they want to try. Sorry, but no.
I’m as much of a corner-cutter as anyone, so I wanted to try something that would help me use my existing oil paints for block printing. Let me just say – you can use whatever you want for whatever purpose you want. You just won’t get ideal results, either in the short term or in the long term.
Why is lino printing with oil paint a bad idea?
Simply put – oil leaching into your paper, unhelpful consistency and long drying time. Still, there are oil-based block printing inks, so what’s the difference?
Unfortunately, I’m no master ink manufacturer, but the carriers are certainly different, as oil paint and oil-based inks are created for different purposes.
The next best thing to buying block printing ink is to use a block printing medium* to mix with your oil paints. Well-known brands include Schmincke and Daler Rowney, but for some reason these seem to be getting hard to find. I used a small amount of block printing medium with a decades-old tube of Prussian Blue to mix up a bit of ink, and that small amount was more than enough to yield more than enough for my short print run.
Could you make a block printing medium yourself?
Maybe you could, as Schmincke’s medium contains damar resin, stand oil and linseed oil, but it’s not likely to be highly economical once you’ve sourced all of the ingredients and put the time in… especially if you’re not going to be doing a lot of block printing.
If you were going to be doing a lot of block printing, then you’d probably be best off buying proper block printing ink!*
I’m happy to say that my portrait of the week is the result of my printmaking – it’s nice when my two main efforts combine.
* denotes affiliate links