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Off Acequia Madre, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1996.

 A mixture of colored pigment with a medium in a liquid or paste form.

"A fluid or pasty coating material made by grinding a pigment in a liquid vehicle to form a dispersion. It is used for coloring and protecting surfaces by close adhesion." (Mayer)

Vehicle (medium, binder)

"This is a traditional term used interchangeably with binder or medium as a name for the film-forming or binding material of paint, such as oil or protein-based media, holding together pigment particles. It is not a dilutent, which has no film-forming properties, such as turpentine, commonly used with oil, or water used with tempera." (G&S)

"The liquid in which pigments are dispersed to make paint; so called because it carries the color. Paint vehicles have [several functions:]

  • an executive function: they put the color in liquid or plastic form, so that it can be spread out and manipulated;
  • a binding function: they lock the pigments together in a cohesive mass of film;
  • an adhesive function: they act as a glue or cement as they dry, attaching the colors to the ground; and sometime
  • an optical function: they may bring out the depth and intensity of the pigment colors, giving them a different color quality than they have in a dry state." (Mayer)


"A pigment is the material that changes the color of light it reflects as the result of selective color absorption." Wikipedia

"A finely divided coloring material which is suspended in discrete particles in the vehicle in which it is used as a paint. Pigments are derived from a wide variety of substances, organic and inorganic, natural and artificial. They may be classified according to color, chemical composition, or source." (G&S)

"To be acceptable for use in artists' materials, a pigment must be fine enough to pass through a screen of 325 meshes to the inch; must meet the very exacting standards of brilliance, clarity and tinting strength; and must possess the degree of opacity or transparency and the general color properties characteristic of its type. In addition a pigment must be chemically inert, so that it will not react harmfully with other pigments or liquids with which it may be mixed, and it must be lightfast, so that it will not fade or darken on exposure to normal indoor conditions (i.e. indirect sunlight, artificial light of average intensity, and controlled temperature and humidity variations." (Mayer)


"A siccative or drier include any metallic salts or solutions of them which are added to drying oils for the purpose of accelerating the rate of drying or oxidation".

"The action of driers is generally held to be catalytic: that is, it triggers the polymerization and accelerates the oxidation of the oil.... A prepared liquid drier is sometimes called a siccative. Pigments may also affect the rate of drying of oil color." (G&S)

"Most commonly used and most effective drier metals are Lead, Cobalt, Manganese, Iron, Barium, Calcium. Zirconium, Zinc, Cerium and Vanadium." PaintDrier

Solvent (volatile)

"A solvent is a liquid or gas that dissolves a solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution." Wikipedia

"This name is given to any of the volatile fluid organic compounds which can, without chemical change, convert a solid or semi-solid organic material into a technically useful solution. Generally such a solution is a mobile liquid capable of application in thin films. The organic substances converted are usually colloidal, oils, waxes, resins, gums, and cellulosic bodies, and are used as varnishes or mediums for paints." (G&S)

 "Any of a group of organic liquids which evaporate readily at normally low temperatures and which are used, according to their individual properties, as solvents for resins and as thinners or dilutents for oil paints, varnishes, mediums, and lacquers. The volatile solvents widely used in artists' paints and varnishes are turpentine and mineral spirits." (Mayer)


"A paint thinner is a solvent used to thin oil-based paints." Wikipedia

"A thinner is a solvent or dilutent or a mixture of both used to reduce a film material to suitable brushing or spraying consistency. The common thinners for oil paint are turpentine or petroleum distillates. Strictly a tinner is a dilutent but, because the difference between solvent and dilutent exists only in relation to particular film-forming solids, this more general term is used for either." (G&S)


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