Because Alkyd colours are not capable of producing the same rich range of mixed colours as standard oils, I’ve increased the number of starting colours on the palette. I’m using 6 colours plus traditional oil Titanium White and Ivory Black. So its a mix of Alkyd and traditional oils.
I like the speed of drying of the Alkyds. I don’t like the lack of richness in the resultant mixes. This is an interesting characteristic of these paints. The pigments are the same as in oil paint but the binding agent is similar to Liquin. Why they should behave differently is very curious.
I have just completed another painting with the same selection of colours and found the same limitations in mixing. I have found new effects caused by fast drying, however. The surface of the painting can be made more textured by dragging wet paint across an almost dry under layer. This is something I can’t do with standard oils, painting alla prima. Layers of different colours can be placed on top of previous layers, partially covering them to build up complex rich textures as the individual colours don’t blend together.
I think I will try a slightly different approach next time. I will use Alkyd colour up to a certain point in the painting using solvent only, then switch completely to standard oils. Alkyds are more transparent and I have found this to be the case especially in solvent washes. This is good for shadows. The more subtle shades available in standard oils I’ll use in the mid-tones and highlights.
Here is the video of the above painting. See you soon.
Just a quick post in honour of the patron saint. A Saint Patrick’s Day painting, to be sure. Green, green and more green. This is a beautiful walk along the banks of the Slaney River on the grounds of Altamont Gardens.
I’m playing around with the Alkyd oil paints. Doing all the things I couldn’t do with traditional oils. I will post the video of the painting process in a few days with a bit more on the how I’m adjusting to the fast drying oils.
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.
In the last post I mentioned ‘oiling out’ with a vegetable oil if Liquin or a similar medium is used in a painting. Its a long time since I was discussing this issue so if you are new to this blog you might be wondering why I would recommend this treatment.
I have a page called ‘Varnishing Oil Paintings‘ and its the varnishing which is the kernel of the issue. The manufacturers of Liquin are cautious about varnish being applied to a paint surface containing this product. Windsor & Newton recommend that the uppermost paint layer should not contain Liquin if you intend to varnish. As ‘alls prima’ paintings usually have only one layer the implication is that it should not be varnished if Liquin was used. Unfortunately there is no reason or explanation given by W & N as to the reason for this recommendation. I can only assume its because Liquin will bond with the varnish regardless of how dry it is. My workaround is to ‘oil out’ with a pure vegetable oil, like Linseed or Poppy, which time has proven does not bond with a varnish. This vegetable oil places a barrier between the layer containing Liquin and the varnish.
Remember there are other instances where varnishing causes problems. Low grade solvent, for example hardware grade white spirits or turpentine, can contain waxes or resins. These never fully dry and harden, and solvents in a varnish can dissolve and mix with the paint layer.
All of this is purely academic as the problems occur if the varnish has to be removed, in cleaning the painting, at some time in the future. Paintings under glass will not be subject to the same accumulations of dust or grime as those exposed to the atmosphere. I’ve had to clean paintings and remove old varnish and its impossible to proceed without damaging the painting if some colour is seen in the varnish removed. In these instances I would just remove as much dirt as possible with a damp wad of cotton wool, allow to dry, then use an aerosol temporary varnish to disguise any uneven glossy/dull patches. Reframing under glass will stop any further accumulations of dirt.
Here is the video of the above painting process. See you soon.
I used Yellow Ochre in this painting, as the only yellow in a palette of three colours. The other two are Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue. Its similar to my last painting in subject matter and also its a three colour painting with the difference of Cadmium Yellow replaced by the Ochre. In retrospect, I think the Cadmium would have been better in terms of variety of colour and vibrance. I’m pleased that I’ve managed to include a lot of Crimson without it dominating the painting as it did in ‘Winter Stubbles‘. I will have to decide to stick with a set of strong colours, or weak colours and not mix them unless for a very specific reason.
In recent months I had stopped using a medium in paint mixes. These paintings are ‘oiled out’ now and I’ve noticed a definite lack of ‘body’ in the paint layer when compared to previous paintings. The ‘oiling out’ does correct the problem to an extent and so to ‘beef up’ the paint layer I’ve started to introduce Liquin, in tiny amounts, to the mixes. At the moment this means using a second container with a very dilute solution (25%) of Liquin and White Spirits which is added a few drops at a time as I mix the paint. The other container has White spirits only. Even this small amount of Liquin makes the paint flow better than with solvent alone especially in fine lines. It does make painting easier.
Remember if you use Liquin or a similar medium be sure to ‘oil out’ with a pure vegetible oil like Linseed if you intend to varnish the painting. I will post the video of this painting in a few days, see you then.
I had a query from Annie regarding making oil paint flow like liquid without loosing its colour intensity. I was reminded of my own efforts in producing an oil paint which behaves more like watercolour (see here).
If you are familiar with my videos of the painting processes you will notice how much time I spend ‘mixing’ the paint. I am, in fact, making the paint liquid. It is something I do without thinking, so thank you Annie for drawing my attention to this very important part of my technique.
I don’t like painting with ‘paste’. This is the form the paint is, in the tube. Picking up a bit of paint on the brush and dipping it into the medium and then applying it to the canvas is NOT what I do. I rarely ever dip a paint covered brush into either the medium or the solvent containers. I transfer the liquids using a pipette into the paint mixes on the palette. Using a firm but flexible knife, I press the paint and added liquid against the flat surface of the palette. This ‘mulls’ the paint, similar to the process used in the manufacture of the paint (using a ‘muller’). This reduces the ‘paste’ nature of the oil paint and makes it more liquid, the way I like it.
I’ve painted this area before, last March (2012) to be precise. This time the colours used are completely different. In the previous painting (here) the colours used were Burnt Sienna & Raw Umber (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow), Cobalt Blue and Sap Green. This painting has only Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue. Here, the stronger colours have contributed to a richer more dramatic colour scheme. I don’t think its better or worse than the other painting, only different.
As I was saying in the last post (here) using very strong colours and staying within the bounds of natural landscape colours means effectively painting in variations of grey. Remember mixing the three colours used in this painting in roughly equal quantities produces a very nice grey. Varying the quantities of one or two in this three colour mix of unnatural pigments produces the range of colours seen in the painting above.
The approach is so different from the painting of last March. In that painting the starting colours are natural, Sienna, Umber and Ochre, straight from the tube. Even Sap Green can be be used, as a natural landscape colour, without much adulteration.
I’ll post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.