WTF? What is Galkyd?

“What’s that?”

My mom and I were raiding the local Aaron Brothers, which was closing for business. They had discounts throughout the store. We are suckers for a good deal.

“I don’t know. I always see it on the shelves but I’ve never tried it.”

“Think you should get it?”

It was sixty percent off.

First experimental Galkyd painting. Paint goes on in thin washes, dries in 24 hours.

Here is what I learned:

Galkyd is an alkyd. Gamblin adds the “G” because that is their trademark. It is similar to Liquin, which is made by Winsor & Newton.

Alkyd mediums make oil paint dry very quickly. This is the opposite of what most people expect from oil paints. Typically they dry slow.

Your tube oil paints already have a medium that keeps them liquid and squeezable. Adding more medium just thins your paint, affecting drying time and gloss. Controlling your medium gives you greater control over the whole painting.

It just goes to show how deep the art of oil painting is. Even the first thing you learn – oils dry slow – can be proved wrong if you learn advanced techniques.

The wash in the upper right was done with crimson, cadmium yellow, and Galkyd. It looks like watercolors, but dries shinier.

The Galkyd also thins paint and levels brush strokes. This gives you the ability to do smooth flat washes similar to what you would get from watercolors.

Just in these first few experiments, I notice is how shiny the paintings end up. They look like they were glazed already. Definitely more than you get from mineral spirits or turps. It may be a little much for my tastes.

I think next I will try mixing it in with turpenoid, and see if I can get the good effects of both.

Galkyd is cool because it dries your layers so fast. I was able to do the bottom red-yellow gradient, then come back the next day and do the blue-green over it.

The one thing I would mention is the smell. Galkyd smells like poison, which means it is poison. I set up a fan and opened windows for ventilation. Make sure to keep bottles capped. Fumes are no joke. Always trust your nose.

So, WTF is Galkyd? It’s an alkyd medium that thins your oil paint, and makes it dry fast and shiny.

You may not always want the effects, but it is good to know that it is an option. Maybe this is just the effect you are looking for to solve a specific problem. The more you know about different painting techniques, the broader your painting style can become.

It all comes down to constant learning and experimenting.

Keep on trying new things. There’s way more to learn out there!