Oil Painting Issues – Liquin

This was going to be a post about the limitations of Liquin as an oil painting medium. I have 2 paintings waiting to dry because of the problems with this medium. There are many good and bad things with Liquin as I have mentioned in previous posts. I will rant a little about the problems I’m having, then I will show you another use for Liquin which you might find useful.

The problem I’m having at the moment concerns one of the ‘good ‘ things with Liquin, ie the quick drying. For light coloured paint it doesn’t matter that much but with dark colours, the colour gets lighter in tone with the drying. If the painting is completed quickly, maybe 1 hour, the Liquin is OK. Any longer and shadows and darker colours begin to change to a lighter tone. I could live with this but there is another issue which is more of a problem with what I trying to do at the moment.

As the Liquin begins to dry it forms a skin on the outside which is a glaze. This retains the ‘wet look’ of the paint colour for about an hour and then begins to fade. The problem is, if the glaze is disturbed (that is brushed causing ‘skuffing’) the Liquin skin becomes matt which is instantly lighter in tone. The only solution is to let the painting dry and ‘oil out‘ with a thin coating of Liquin on the dry paint before resuming painting. The original colour of the paint layer returns from this wetting of the surface. That’s where I am at the moment.

Enough of that. Here is a use I’ve found for Liquin which can be used as a learning experience, or planning for a painting, or as a final art work. Simply put, an oil painting surface is coated with Liquin. This can be tinted (I used Raw Umber below) or left uncoloured. If tinted it can be wiped off to create a range of tones. Charcoal is then used to draw onto the wet surface. This is an interesting effect. On clear Liquin the greys are the typical ‘shades of black’ you get with charcoal. If a colour is used in the Liquin, the greys are ‘milky’ or ‘smokey’ like you get when black and white are mixed.

This is a 10 minute (reduced to 2 minutes time lapse) sketch to show the process. The great thing is, the final artwork can look like a charcoal sketch and when dry will be completely set – it won’t rub off as charcoal does, regardless of the amount of fixative you use. Here’s the sketch and the video of the drawing.

10 Minute Charcoal Sketch


18 thoughts on “Oil Painting Issues – Liquin

  1. I have been using Liquin for years as a glazing medium with no problems, of course, once a painting done in glazes using this medium is complete, a temporary varnish is needed to retain the depth of colors and tones.

    • Liquin is indeed a great material. But there are issues with Liquin and varnishing. I have a page called ‘For the absolute beginner, part 3’ which discusses these issues.

  2. Thank you. Really interesting. I use the Gamblin version of Liquin -right now I’m working on portraits with Gamblin Neo Megilp. Same animal/dilemma-the back round area is black-looks great when wet, dries too light. Clearly I have to oil out as well. A little frustrating, but could be worse.

    NEVER thought to work charcoal into the medium. Looks great, have to try it!

    • Windsor & Newton (who produce Liquin) are a little evasive on the subject of technical specifications and limitations of Liquin. If one was to apply their recommendations to the ‘letter of the law’ it couldn’t be used, eg can’t be mixed with other media, can’t be used as a final coat??, etc. Its all to do with the solubility of Liquin when ‘dry’. [8 April ’14: Actually, its the speed of drying of Liquin which causes problems. Any slower drying layers under the Liquin will be sealed off by the dry Liquin skin and not dry at all. This skin of dry Liquin could flake off or be lifted by the action of varnishing. This is only an issue with the technique of painting in discreet layers and allowing them to dry before the next layer is applied. Obviously, alls prima is not affected as there is only a single layer.]

  3. Very interesting about teh charcoal sketch. I’ve always wondered how to get around it rubbing off even though a fixative had been used. I will have to give that a whirl–thanks! I used Liquin early on and just didn’t care for my results so, I’ve quit using it. I tend to only thin with mineral spirits or just apply with softer brushes.
    Good post.

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  6. Very interesting. It is really amazing how personal the use of mediums are for people. I have always used Liquin. I used it years ago at and after art college, and again after I recently got back into painting. I have also tried so many other different mediums, but for me I just find the flow if gives my paint unbeatable.

    Despite me being pro Liquin, this post and your blog are fantastic. Keep up the amazing work 🙂

    • I’m not totally anti-Liquin, its just that I expect too much. There are limitations to every material and Liquin is no exception. Thank you for your comment.

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