What is Ox-Gall? (and what is it used for?)

Hi Friends! Ox gall is a wetting agent designed to increase the flow of your watercolor paint. If your paint is not flowing on your paper as well as you like give it a try. Today I will demonstrate a wet in wet wash using regular paint as well as paint with ox-gall added so you can see the difference. You will get a more noticeable effect on lesser sized paper as highly sized paper help the paint flow naturally.

Watch the video to see it in action!

Natural ox gall is bile usually obtained from cows. It is used as a wetting agent in paints and soap. I am using synthetic ox gall. Ox gall can be added to the paint or the painting water to improve the flow of paint in washes. I did some research but could not find out what the synthetic ox gall was made of. If you know please comment!

You can get a similar effect with soap because it reduces the surface tension of the water and lets the paint go wild. Happy experimenting and have fun!
Bottom line: I bought this product because several people had asked me about it, I really do not find that my paints need help flowing but should I need wetter water this will help! Disclaimer, this is the only brand and type of ox gall I have used, others might produce a more dramatic effect.

PS The BOGO sale is still on at Craftsy, 2 classes for the price of one! Woohoo!


Thanks so much for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


7 Responses

  1. I believe that ox gall is very poisonous. I have used it and am extremely careful not to throw any away down the drain. I usually only pour out enough to currently use, then wipe the remaining contents out with a paper towel to put in the trash. I may be wrong but it’s worth checking.


  2. So funny your timing with this video is perfect. My paints don’t flow very well and I was thinking I’m going to have to buy another set of paints. Which I really didn’t want to do since I am just starting out. Thanks for the info. PS love your video’s.


  3. Thanks for making this video. I might try this out on my Cotman paints. I bought some ox gall in a pan from Schmincke so I can take it with me outdoors and use it with a waterbrush. Hopefully it won’t HARM the waterbrush somehow. Here in Germany they use ox gall to remove stains from clothes so it might not be that aggressive. Would it make sense to mix some liquid ox gall into Cotman tube paints when I fill up the pans? How much would I need for a half pan?

    I have another question concerning these watercolor mediums. Winsor & Newton tells us to use gum arabic if tube paints dry out:

    I bought W&N tube paints before I knew they are different from their pan paints and wonder if I can add a few drops of gum arabic to the paints when I squirt them into pans and mix them with a toothpick. What do you think?


    • I’d add glycerin if anything. I don’t think I would add oxgall to the paint, maybe to the clean water bucket or a small jar of water. Try a heavily sided paper with cotman for more flow, like canson monetville


      • Thanks! I bought some Canson Monteval on sale ages ago, loose sheets in huge transparent envelope-shaped cases. I didn’t like the paper … I used to paint with Schmincke and Winsor& Newton artist paints then and the results were weird. Now I’m glad I can use them for outdoor painting with Cotmans! The envelope cases might come in handy if I cut the sheets into different sizes so I have more variety.


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