Holbein DUO Aqua Oil Color

The DUO Aqua Oil Color is a relatively new product that was developed by Holbein in 1999 to combine the desirable characteristics of the Artists’ Oil line, with the ability to clean them up using soap and water. Featuring the same high color pigment concentration that is found across Holbein’s products, the Aqua Oil Color’s hues and chromas are no exception. Holbein specifically ranks 17 colors of this product as “Elite” colors that contain heavy metal pigments such as quinacridones, cadmium and cobalt.

On the rest of the line, you will find another 100 also highly pigmented colors that are suspended in a water soluble cold pressed linseed oil. As these colors are fully soluble, they are compatible with traditional oil colors, watercolors, acrylics, and gouache. They may also be used as a printmaking ink, and they are very suitable for teaching as they can be cleaned and reapplied.


Medium Tips

  • Drying time is comparable to traditional oil straight out of the tube (no water/mediums).
  • Water Will matte down the surface when mixed with DUO, like turpentine does to oil.
  • Quick Dry Medium or Painting Oil is ideal for glazing.
  • Traditional oil mediums may be used, but the mixture will lose water solubility.
  • Traditional oil painting techniques apply for DUO (fat over lean).
  • Water aids when mixing DUO with other water base media (watercolor, gouache, acrylic), to ensure a durable finish.
  • Use traditional oil varnish when sealing your DUO painting.
  • A stiff synthetic brush is best when painting DUO.

Product Pros & Cons

Artist Likes

  • Can be cleaned up with soap and water
  • Can be mixed with virtually any other medium
  • Smooth and easy to mix and apply paint
  • Bold and intense colors of high pigment concentration
  • Great spreading and coverage
  • Very wide color range

Artist Dislikes

  • Slow drying times that often exceed 48 hours
  • Some colors are especially hard to mix
  • A bit too high on viscosity

These colors are great alternatives to oil colors as they boast similarly rich look and brightness, as most customers report. However, there are some complaints about not drying even after two days, so depending on where you live and what the temperatures are, you may experience frustration on that part. Multiple users report disappointment with the Titanium White which is hard to mix and paint with.

Final Considerations

If you live in a relatively hot area of the world allowing for normal drying times, then you start using these cleanable colors that will relieve you from using dangerous cleaning chemicals, etc. Moreover, most oil paints are messy and toxic, so you’ll forget about that as well. The mixing needs some getting used to, but after some practicing, you’ll see for yourself that Holbein’s DUO Aqua Oil Color is a unique product in every sense.