Art Glossary: Liquid White / Liquid Clear

Value Pack of Bob Ross Base Coat Paint Including Liquid White
Bob Ross Liquid White and Base Coat Value Pack. Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Definition

Liquid White and Liquid Clear are the names of two of the oil painting mediums created for painters following the Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique®.

As the name suggests, Liquid White (also called Magic White under another brand name) is a fluid paint, with a consistency that's more like cream than the buttery paint you get from a tube. This means that it is easy to apply and mix with other colors, both on and off the canvas.

It is often used as the first layer in a painting, to create a surface for immediate wet-on-wet painting. 

Liquid Clear (also called Magic Clear under another brand name) is intended as a base coat, to be applied onto the canvas first before any color. This way you're immediately painting wet-on-wet, which is fundamental to the Bob Ross painting method. 

With the application of either of these initial base coats, the subsequent paint goes on quite easily and you need very little to achieve different effects.

These two are certainly not the only two mediums in the Bob Ross art supplies range -- the official Bob Ross website lists everything. There is also Liquid Black, and Liquid Opal, made especially for wet-on-wet flower painting. 

Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique

The Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique is a technique that enables an oil painter to work quickly wet-on-wet much like a watercolor painter would do.

You apply the Liquid White or Liquid Clear mediums first to "wet" the canvas, then follow the demonstration of techniques by Bob Ross to create a representational painting in a short amount of time.  

This is a direct and immediate method of painting, good for plein-air painting or for producing a painting during a single period of classroom instruction.

The wet-on-wet method allows you to blend colors directly on the canvas rather than mixing them on your palette. It works well for creating light fluffy clouds, atmospheric skies, different bodies of water, and smoky or misty mountains. It is a very loose method of painting with the painting gesture often consisting of quick brushstrokes of short back and forth movements, or swirling or tapping motions, seeming to magically bring forth a recognizable landscape.

How to Make Your Own Version of Liquid White

You can make a "generic version" of Liquid White by mixing up some white paint with whatever oil you use as a medium, or make a "generic version" of Liquid Clear by using the oil just as it is. If you want the medium to dry faster, add some turpenoid (odorless turpentine) (Buy from Amazon) or Liquin. Then store it in an air-tight container such as an old paint-can, sealed well, and it should last for years.

Further Reading and Viewing

Oil Painting Tips: Make Your Own Fluid White for Oil Painting

Using Liquid White to Paint Wet-on-Wet

How to Apply White Medium for Wet on Wet Painting (video) 

Updated by Lisa Marder 6/17/16