I’m traveling most of the summer to teach and paint and I didn’t want to mess with Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS). When I got an email from Royal Talens about their COBRA Water Soluble Oil Paints I thought I would give them a go and see what would happen. I placed an order with Jerry’s Artarama buying a warm and cool each of yellow, red, and blue, plus viridian, titanium white, and sienna. I also bought a burnt umber and black from Holbein’s water soluble Duo.
Cobra comes in 2 ranges: Professional and Student. While the tubes look very similar, the black cap indicates the professional grade and an orange cap the student grade. I only bought the black cap, but a friend gave me some samples of the student grade which included a Yellow Ochre which you can see in the photo.
Both professional and student grades of paint carry the exact same pigment. And according to Royal Talens, this is true for all brands of paint, whether it be water soluble, or traditional. So what is the difference?? The difference between a professional tube and a student grade tube is the amount of oil and filler used. Professional grades have a higher pigment ratio, which generally translates to more bang for your dollar.
What makes an oil paint water soluble? An emulsifier is added and blended in to the carrier mixture (oils and fillers) that allows water to be used instead of OMS to thin paint and clean brushes. An emulsifier is used when you want to mix oil and water, which normally don’t mix, allowing the particles to stay in suspension, and therefore to stay mixed. Water Soluble Paints are oil paints. They are intended to work exactly the same as a traditional tube whether you are glazing, working alla prima, or coming back later work on a piece. In fact, you can mix up to 30% of water soluble with traditional oils without losing the water soluble properties. Above 30% you will need OMS or something similar to clean up with. So let’s say you are using water soluble oils and you run out of a water soluble color and only have traditional oils available. You can absolutely use your traditional oils. But you may need to use OMS instead of water depending on how much traditional oils you end up using. Additionally, the rule of fat over lean applies to Water Soluble just as it does to traditional oil paint.
Next up…….Testing the colors