Cindy Briggs Explores Water Soluble Oils

Recently featured in Plein Air Magazine and Outdoor Painter, Daniel Smith Artist and international workshop instructor, Cindy Briggs, is known for her sundrenched watercolors. Briggs shares her experience exploring a new medium – Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils.

Where do I start?
As a watercolorist I decided I was ready to venture into painting with Water Soluble Oils and share the experience.
After 20 years of painting with Daniel Smith Watercolors, I know my favorite “go to” supplies and Daniel Smith colors. To start my project in Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils I needed to discover out what would work for me. I always talk about the importance of the using the best supplies in my watercolor workshops so I wanted to get it right from the start. I interviewed my oil painters and created an excel spreadsheet with suggestions listing colors, brushes, painting surfaces, mediums, etc. Here are most of the supplies I purchased to use with Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils.

  •  Brushes: Flats, Filberts, (These do not have to be expensive)
  • Medium: Daniel Smith Water Soluble Painting Medium, (Small Container)
  • Paper Towels: Viva (soft and absorbent)
  • Water Container:
  • Panels: Canvas, Smooth Gesso Panel, Multi Media Board, Oil
  • Paper
  • Palette – Glass or Fiberglass – over neutral gray for easiest color mixing
  • Easel: Shown are the Open Box M – Painted neutral gray in the base (bought used) I also tried a Small Strada plus a tripod (see Plein Air photo)
  • Dawn Dish Soap: to wash brushes
  • Plastic Palette Knife
  • Mini Scraper with razor blades to scrape off palette

jumpinginJumping in, I went to the Plein Air Convention in Tucson in April with my new Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils, watched incredible demonstrations and painted side by side with some of the best oil painters in the country. My humble paintings were learning experiences and studies for future paintings.

It was great to see Daniel Smith well represented at the event with Owner, John Cogley sharing his passion for Daniel Smith Oils, Water Soluble Oils and Watercolors. Once back to my studio I felt ready to focus on my project comparing my Watercolors to Water Soluble Oil experience painting a favorite subject – Sunflowers – from my travels to Italy.

The Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils Colors I found most useful in this project compare to my Watercolor List: Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Cadmium Orange, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine Violet, Sap Green, Manganese Blue Hue, Pthalo Blue, Titanium White & Ivory Black. I barely used black, and limited my colors for color harmony and mixed colors for interesting color transitions.


paintingoneaselWatercolor to Water Soluble Oil.
Many of the Masters would paint their studies in watercolor before painting their subject in oils. With this in mind, I decided to use this process as a guide. Taking a painting I had completed in watercolor, I tried the same image in Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils. By doing this I already knew my preference for colors, values and shapes, this would leave me free to focus on the process of painting with this new medium. My process will be “alla prima” or wet-on wet, layering up my paints while still wet. This direct painting method relates to my experiences painting on location, both in watercolor and in oils. I love the free-flowing intrinsic qualities of watercolors and wondered how would I get along with the consistency of water soluble oils.

sundancers121. To start my oil painting I decided to block in my colors on a smooth primed Ampersand Artist Panel. This smooth surface felt somewhat like painting with watercolors.

2. I then started layering up Color – thin to thick, dark to light. I quickly found that my brushstrokes had impact and the colors were bold and exciting.

3. I used Daniel Smith Water Soluble Medium for smooth glossy consistency. To create a range of colors, you can see my color mixing on my palette. Unlike watercolor you utilize the medium to thin out your water soluble oils and make the oils smoother to work with. Otherwise the oil paint was sticky and challenging to work with.
4. To fine-tune and finesse I added more color variation and explored the power of brushstrokes. To sign I just scratched out my name in the wet paint.


thesoloist123Going from Oil to Watercolor.
I painted on Arches Oil Paper to compare the consistencies of Watercolor vs. Oil on Arches Oil Paper. In my comfort zone, the surface of the paper was very familiar and inviting. I was even able to draw out my shapes with a pencil.

1. Using Burnt Sienna I painted in my shapes and values to cover the paper with color.

2. I then mixed a range of colors on my palette adding Daniel Smith transparent blender to my colors. Then started layering in my oil with brush strokes, going from dark to light, thin to thick paint. If I needed a smoother consistency I experimented adding just a little Daniel Smith Modified Linseed Oil to the mix.

3. To fine-tune I added thick brush strokes, varied color, some detail and value changes for dramatic light.

As an artist, I’m excited about Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oils. I found the transition from watercolors to water soluble oils natural more natural than working with regular oils. It helped that I was working with familiar Daniel Smith colors and water. Being sensitive to scents the oils did not bother me. I travel often to Europe to paint en plein air, and want to be able to pack my supplies with ease so I don’t have to look for supplies when I arrive. The drying time is a challenge, with watercolors I can paint and go with my painting drying almost instantly. With oils you need more time for drying and a carrier or stand to hold your wet paintings. Depending on the thickness of the paint and the mediums you use, it can take days or weeks to be completely dry. After completely dry you can then varnish. I’ll be exploring other subjects with watercolors and then oils in future articles.