Lonely Path – Oil Painting

Lonely Path

Lonely Path

Old Still Life

Old Still Life

As you probably know I’ve not been using any medium lately, actually not for the last few months. By now the earliest of these paintings are ‘oiled out’ and are fully dry (well almost ready for a varnish). When I first started to use solvent only, I was expecting the resultant paintings to be very matt and dull and needing the ‘oiling out’ process in the worst possible way. But to my surprise the paintings are quite normal looking, with dull and glossy patches. I do remember a time when this ‘no medium’ method would have produced a very different end result, which leads me to think that the composition of the paints has changed in recent years. It seems like, more medium and less pigment in the tubes, but it could be the pigment is more finely ground. Whatever the reason, I think there might be a problem of using too much medium. The dangers of this are well documented, flaking, peeling, cracking, yellowing, etc. Don’t think the time scale of problems occurring is centuries, its possibly as little as ten years.


Old Still Life Detail

Old Still Life Detail

I include a photograph of an oil on stretched canvas I  painted in October, 1972. At that time I was less careful about the basics and I was using too much medium. In this case Linseed Oil. What I’m doing now with solvent, I was doing then with medium. The difference is that the solvent (artist’s quality solvent) evaporates without leaving any residue. Medium is there for ever.

The colours used in the landscape above are Cadmium Red & Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Prussian Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White. As mentioned before, there is no medium used, only White Spirits.

I will post the video of the painting process in a day or two, see you then.


10 thoughts on “Lonely Path – Oil Painting

  1. Your explanation of your technical processes is so interesting. I’m setting myself a technical exercise to do a small oil painting over the holidays and I will be scouring your blogs for advice 🙂 Thank you

  2. I suspect that archival quality depends to some extent on the medium that one is using. I never paint with solvents, only with medium–my preferred one being Grumbacher’s Painting Medium III (as far as I know, not available in Ireland or UK). I have been painting with this medium consistently since 1989, and I have paintings from that time that still look exactly as they did the day I painted them. My painting style is quite unorthodox; it requires use of medium way out of proportion to pigment. Many very thin transparent layers. I have no explanation for the longevity of my paintings except for what may be the quality of the medium.

    • There probably are equivalents available over here. What I was implying was ‘if you use traditional materials, you must follow traditional guidelines’. I was painting in a modern ‘slap dash’ way using materials which were not suitable for this type of application. A modern medium over here is Liquin and there are made-up mediums based on this and other oils. I find some of the technical info on these a little ‘fuzzy’, so I worry about using them. I’ll have to wait another 40 years before I know if my current cautious mixing is any better 🙂

    • Thank you again John. I’m constantly changing and if I find I can’t do something I’ll look for a solution (excuse the pun). I really should be trying out different modern mediums, like the type Alli uses. In due course I probably will. Before I started my current design/print business, I worked in industrial science. Part of my job was the artificial ageing of paint coatings (one experiment lasted 10 years to simulate 100 years of normal ageing). This was a time when water based Acrylic medium was hailed as the replacement for the solvent based binders. I know, as a result of my experience, I’m probably a little too sensitive to the ‘flaky’ paint.

  3. You should be able to oil out with that medium. You only want to put on the thinnest amount to ‘wet’ the area so that you can mix colours accurately and keep painting wet into wet. You may find that the oil will sink into those areas again but that can be addressed when the painting is finished.

    • Thank you Jimmy for the comment. The jury is out on whether Liquin is a suitable medium for ‘oiling out’. The manufacturers do NOT recommend it, but won’t say why. It may be an issue with varnishing of paintings which have a layer containing Liquin in contact with the varnish. W&N say the uppermost layers in a painting should NOT contain Liquin, however you manage that, especially in alla prima. To be on the safe side I oil out with a pure vegetable oil like Linseed or Poppy Oil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s