This is a technique you might like to try. It involves using a solvent only, like White Spirits, to flood the surface of the painting in washes, allowing the spirits to evaporate between applications. There is absolutely no medium added. However, remember there is a certain amount of medium already in the paint, but in spite of this the painting will dry to a very flat, matt finish. It will, most certainly, need to be ‘oiled out’ when dry (see here).
It reminds me of ‘loose’ watercolour painting, in that the flow of the liquid very often determines the shapes and textures of the final painting. I use this technique to counteract the ‘heaviness’ that can creep into my paintings if I concentrate too much on technicalities. Here, its haphazard and accidental, but I let it flow (literally) and then add the final touches, normally the highlights. This is in fact the reverse of traditional watercolour, where the lightest washes are applied first and the final touches are the darker colours.
There are a few things to be aware of. The vapour from the solvent is toxic and flammable. Need I say more! The solvent will flow everywhere, so the canvas will have to be horizontal, or flat on a table top. A soft ‘watercolour’ type brush will be useful to carry the liquid as is the case in watercolour painting. Included on right is a photo of the brushes used. The large ‘filbert’ on the left is used to blend the colours and soften edges but not to apply paint. The second is a standard round bristle, used to apply the final layers of paint. The third is the ‘watercolour’ type brush and the two on the right are nylon fine tipped for details.
There are many advantages in this type of painting technique. The later layers of colour sit nicely on the under colour, for example the painting of the trees on the sky was easy with no contamination of the dark colours in the fine branches. When medium is used in the sky mixes I will usually have to scrape a track with the knife to accommodate the fine lines of trees as in this painting. The paint manufacturers (Windsor & Newton) say this is the only ‘safe’ way to use oil colours. Very thin layers with the minimum of medium. The problems of cracking, flaking, extreme long drying times, etc are reduced or eliminated. But as I said previously, the painting must be ‘oiled out’. There might be a problem with colours which are not fully permanent. Extremely thin layers of a ‘fugitive’ colour could make the fading more noticeable than a thicker layer. I am probably overly concerned with permanence as is reflected in the ‘dull’ colours of my limited palette.
Here is the video of the painting process. The size, about 13″ x 20″. The actual painting time was about an hour and a half, with another hour spent waiting for the spirits to evaporate between applications of paint and going outside to ‘take the air’.