A binder or “vehicle” is the liquid component of paint that holds the particles of pigment together and binds it to the surface to which it is applied. Commonly used binders include linseed, tung, poppy, and nut oils.
The difference between the types of binders is in the drying time—linseed oil dries slowly, while tung oil dries more quickly. Poppy and nut oils are somewhere in between.
Different artists have different binder preferences, depending on the type of paint they are using and the effect they are trying to achieve. Some artists like to use a slow-drying binder for oil paints so that they have more time to work with the paint before it dries on the canvas. Others prefer a faster-drying binder so that they can move on to another painting more quickly.
There are also synthetic binders available, which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some artists prefer synthetic binders because they dry more quickly than natural oils, while others find that they don’t provide the same level of “workability” as traditional oil paints.
The binder decision is an important component, given that it affects the drying time, the texture, and the overall appearance of the finished painting.