As many artists have now adapted to their art studio being at home, odourless solvent may be a friendlier option when painting. We asked three artists, Hannah Ivory Baker, Rupert Aker and Angelina Davis, to try Jackson’s Pure-Sol Odourless Solvent as their paint thinner and brush cleaner, and to share with us how they found working with it. This is to coincide with Jackson’s Pure-Sol Odourless Solvent range now being available online.
Above image: Work in progress by Hannah Ivory Baker, using Jackson’s Pure-Sol Odourless Solvent
Jackson’s Pure-Sol is an odourless solvent with a high 75°C flashpoint, ideal for thinning oil colours, painting mediums, and general studio clean up. An excellent alternative to turpentine and white spirit, Pure-Sol beautifully thins colours and mediums and cleans brushes, palettes, palette knives, etc. quickly and with no harsh fumes. It also means artists can re-use their brush cleaner instead of having to dispose of it.
Hannah Ivory Baker
I have been trying our the new Jackson’s Art Pure-sol odourless thinner over the past week and it is by far the lowest odour solvent I’ve used, which is particularly great when using oils at home. I’m very sensitive to the smell of solvents and this was perfect for me – I could barely detect it.
I started out with some small oil sketches on Jackson’s oil colour block and then worked on a larger Jackson’s canvas.
The Pure-sol thins paint beautifully and makes brushwork incredibly fluid which is great as I work quite quickly and predominantly work wet-on-wet.
When working in this way, being able to apply the next layers of oil paint without disturbing the wet layer underneath, is incredibly important, and has to be done with a light touch, so when you can use something to soften or loosen the paint it makes the whole process much easier. The thinner areas of paint also dried much quicker than usual which is great.
I was able to use it with a palette knife when applying thicker layers of paint by just adding a few drops of solvent which worked really well. It didn’t over thin the paint or make it loose lustre.
It also worked very well as a brush cleaner which is always great as I really dislike cleaning brushes so anything that makes it quicker to clean has my vote!
I will definitely continue to use this solvent.
This video shows me working on a larger piece as I really wanted to test out the solvent on a larger scale:
The materials used in this painting were:
Jackson’s Professional Oil Colour: Titanium white (Safflower oil), Burnt Umber, Ivory Black (no surprises why that black is my favourite) & a hint of Ultramarine (Blue red shade)
Jackson’s Premium Stretched 10oz Cotton Canvas 100 x 120cm
About Hannah Ivory Baker
Hannah is a self taught artist that has been painting professionally for roughly eight years. She also owns and runs the art gallery, Highgate Contemporary Art which is based in Highgate, North London.
“My work is inspired by the natural world; the rugged Cornish coast to the relative serenity of the Somerset levels, all of which provide a wealth of artistic opportunity, creative interpretation and expression.
Each of my pieces derives from a plein air sketch done in oil, charcoal or mixed media that aims to record basic shape, tone, light and any striking features of landscape as well as including additional notes on time of day, weather and anything else that may be relevant. These sketches are always the starting point for larger studio work.
The main area of focus in my work is on mark making and tone to create a sense of depth. Landscapes are full of shape, texture, energy and it is important that these elements are captured and conveyed in both my studio sketches and paintings. To me there is nothing uniform about the natural world; weather changes in an instant without warning, the sea moves from tranquil to turbulent, a blue sky suddenly fills with dense grey cloud and an earthy petrichor fills the air; the semi abstract nature of each piece is really a nod to the asymmetry and the unexpected.
Each work aims to evoke a sense of place, whilst allowing plenty of room for personal interpretation.”
I’m a landscape painter, based in the Cotswolds, working with a palette knife and oils. I enjoy the looseness and freedom you get with using the palette knife: the speed and economy of making marks on the canvas and the different effects you can achieve – from thick impasto slabs to thin skims of paint. I have always used the paint straight from the tube, loading the knife with paint and applying it thickly, as if spreading thick butter on toast.
I have never used oil thinners in the past as I really don’t like the smell of traditional solvents, but when my friends at Jacksons told me about their new Pure-Sol odourless thinner, I was interested in giving it a go. I was keen to experiment with the effect a thinner would have on applying paint with my palette knife. I like the process of allowing paint pigments to mix and blend on the canvas, and a solvent may aid this process. It’s always good to push your boundaries and try new techniques!
Whilst I love painting en plein air where possible, the winter weather and lockdown restrictions mean that much more time has been spent in my studio. As it is a confined space and with open-door ventilation not being ideal in February, I was interested to see whether Pure-Sol would live up to its odour-free billing. I opened the metal can and had a sniff: there was a faint whiff of thinner but not at all pungent or overpowering. That was a really good start and after using the product for a couple of hours, the smell was no stronger than the usual odours you get from the oil paints on their own. A quick open of the door allowed me to ventilate the studio.
I proceeded to experiment with the thinner: splashing it on to my palette, mixing it lightly on my palette and then applying it to Jackson’s own brand canvas. I must say that I love the flow of the paint from my palette knife on to the canvas, and the fluid blending of pigments. It allowed me to paint more quickly and loosely with the liquid pigments combining to create the ‘happy accidents’ that always add pleasing qualities to the finished painting. I initially tried the Pure-Sol thinner and oil paint on a small 40cm x 50cm canvas, followed by a larger 70cm x 113cm ‘golden ratio’ canvas, using different sized palette knives. I was very happy with the results of both and have continued to add the thinner to all the paintings I’ve been working on this month. Sometimes it has just been to add a hazy ethereal quality to a distant horizon, or a more atmospheric feel to a wet winter sky. Other paintings were heavily thinned to create fast and loose landscape sketches.
So, a month later, I am a real convert to using a thinner with my oils, and will certainly continue to use Pure-Sol regularly with my work. The real bonus is the lack of odour and not having to inhale the accompanying chemicals, so for indoor studio work, this new product is a great step forward. Thank you Jacksons for encouraging me to try it out, I feel it’s given my painting a new lease of life as we edge out of lockdown.
About Rupert Aker
Working with oil and palette knife, I mostly paint the Cotswold landscape around me, as I feel it is important for a landscape painter to be immersed in their subject matter. However, having grown up in the west country, I do also enjoy painting seascapes of the Devon and Cornwall coastline. I usually head out with my french easel and paint the hidden places and views that only the locals know, rather than the chocolate box locations that tourists head for. I sell my work online from my website and Instagram; from pop-up exhibitions I organise in the Cotswolds; and through a number of galleries that represent me.
I have been trying some solvent over the weekend for Jackson’s as I am back working at home and want to use oils. It was great for thinning the paint and cleaning up as well as diluting mediums and no fumes whatsoever. It felt clean. I used their gessoed boards and worked from some gouaches I have been doing. The smooth surface and thin paint meant I could work fast. So speedy that I got to the end before I had photographed any of the stages between apart from a scrubby shape that appeared after much wiping off! I already use their Shellsol T but the Pure-Sol has a higher flashpoint so even safer. I am converted!
Another small oil painting on gessoed panel that I did at the weekend along with its earlier incarnation. I have been trying Jackson’s new Pure-Sol to thin paint and clean up and it’s allowed me to work at home with oils during this cold snap without the fumes. The combination of thinner and super smooth boards has also meant I have been doing loads of wiping off and have had to curb my tendency to just wipe the lot off continuously. I am impressed with the Pure-Sol though. I have had a lifetime of pure turps and white spirit and this is very welcome. It’s also safer than the other odourless thinners I had been using . I have some more of these to post …the yellow is reflectively shiny (Jackson’s gloss medium) which I also get through a lot of…..
About Angelina Davis
Angelina May Davis is a painter living and working in Birmingham. She currently has a studio in Birmingham Artspace, Aston. After graduating with a degree in Fine Art in 1988 from Coventry Polytechnic she exhibited at Ikon Gallery, Lanchester Gallery, Leicester City Gallery and MAC amongst other spaces before completing an MFA at UCE in 1998 Throughout those years Davis was involved in setting up and running various collaborative artist studios in Birmingham. Raising a family from 1997 she moved her practice to the dining table for 10 years before beginning to make large paintings again in a studio from 2007. An artist who revels in the stuff of paint she uses oil on canvas and sees painting as a transformative act where images are searched for and consolidated.
Use or search the Instagram tag #jacksonspuresol to see more.