Everything to Know about Working Outdoors with Water Mixable Oils

June 23, 2021

Oil paints have long been used for their many unique properties like their extended working time and beautiful brush strokes. Although, working with solvents can be hazardous without proper ventilation and clean up takes longer than acrylic and watercolour. With water mixable oil paints, you are able to get the best of both! Easy, cleaning, and working solvent-free, all whilst still getting all the benefits of oil paints. These oil paints still contain oil and are a true oil paint but feature an additive that allows it to be mixed with water.  That’s what makes, water mixable oils, like those from Cobra perfect for plein air. They offer benefits for your health and easy clean up. Plus, without solvent – it’s one less thing to pack for painting on the go! 


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What advantage does water mixable oil colours have?

There are many benefits to painting with water mixable oils…

  • no harmful solvents, like spirit and turpentine, are needed, which is better for your health and the environment
  • easy to use (water and water mixable mediums)
  • brushes and other tools are easy to clean with water and soap
  • 100% retention of brush stroke/structure 
  • no colour change from wet to dry 
  • all colours have the highest degree of lightfastness +++ (at least 100 years lightfast under museum conditions)
  • suitable for all oil paint techniques (alla prima and wet-on-wet)


Can Cobra be combined with traditional oil colours?

Yes! Traditional oil colours and Cobra can be combined to a maximum ratio of 1/5 (i.e. up to 20% of traditional oil colours). Up to a ratio of 1/5: oil 1/Cobra 5. 


What are the primary mixing colours in the Cobra range?

275 primary yellow, 369 primary magenta, 572 primary cyan

A limited colour palette is essential for painting outdoors as it’s less to carry. These primary colours are perfect for bringing along for painting en plein air as they mix well to create many colours.


What surface would you recommend for painting outdoors with Water Mixable Oils?

A great lightweight surface is the perfect pairing for painting en plein air. We would recommend the Ampersand Gessobord for its portability, its rigid surface for good adhesion.  There are also a nice selection of depths from 1/8″ flat panel, 3/4″ cradled panel, and so on.


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