There are limitations in every medium and quite a few in the art of oil painting. Traditional working methods are best served by painting in stages, allowing each to dry before the next stage is begun. This process does not suit my current painting method, which is ‘alla prima’. By choosing this road to follow I accept the limitations – wet underpainting, no glazing or scumbling, and possibly the most limiting, the inability to ‘backtrack’. This means the final colours, mostly containing white, are almost impossible to alter once put in place, except by scraping off.
Its to do with the slow drying of oil paint which favours slow working. One of my ‘workarounds’ is not to add any medium, just solvent to the paint mixes. Another is to use Liquin as the medium. This is an Alkyd medium and is principally used to speed-up the final drying time of paintings and this it does admirably. However my use of this medium was because it made under layers ‘tacky’ while the painting was in progress. An advantage over wet oily layers but not ideal.
I suppose its a natural progression to go further into the Alkyd based oil colours and this is what I’m experimenting with at the moment. My first surprise in using these colours is the speed at which they dry. In this painting, the initial blue, applied with solvent only to the sky, was dry enough not to mix with the subsequent applications of paint – 10 minutes later. I didn’t expect this and actually wanted a certain amount of mixing to happen. Next time I’ll use less solvent or maybe add a little Liquin instead of solvent. Another surprise was with the distant hills on the horizon, they were scumbled over with the light grey of the sky. Impossible to do with traditional oil paint. The light colours of the ploughed field were dry enough to be glazed over with a transparent layer of Raw Umber. At this point in the experiment I’m pleased with the Alkyd paints and will continue to see how far I can push the method.
A word of caution. Be careful of you brushes if you try this medium. If you use a large number of brushes and leave some of them standing for long periods (a few hours) between usage, the paint will have started to dry. I would normally use very few, adjusting the colour on the palette to allow for the paint already on the brush. This is not a normal practice but suits the Alkyd method of working. It would seem that much of what I was doing with traditional oils was more suited to the Alkyd method.
I have just completed another painting doing all the things I was not able to do previously and will post it soon. In the meantime have a look at this video of the above painting. See you soon.