View Full Version : Ink between oil layers

04-02-2019, 06:05 AM
One section of a painting I'm working on depicts a piece of fabric imprinted with a complex pattern. I'm trying for a very realistic, or at least precise, approach. The first two tries haven't pleased me, so I've overpainted that area with white to start anew.

Right now, I'm waiting for the white to dry.

It occurs to me that the pattern I am trying to create is precisely the sort of thing that is much easier to accomplish with ink -- perhaps using a very thin micron pen. Switching to pen would allow for the use of rulers and french curves. Although I have some very fine brushes, there are some jobs that brushes really are not meant to do!

From a technical standpoint, is it really so hideous to contemplate letting the white paint dry completely and then inking in the pattern? Once the pattern is laid in, I could shade the fabric using dark oil paint.

It is even possible to separate the ink layer from the oil layers above and below, using a varnish isolation layer. Copal or liquin would do. (Copal yellows a bit, but in this case, yellowing wouldn't bother me.)

The ink in those pens is lightfast, so that's not an issue.

The alternative, of course, would be to sand down that section of the painting, removing all of the oil paint. I could then use micron pens to apply the ink pattern directly over the ground. This could be shaded and modified by additional layers of oil.

I don't see any technical problem with the latter course of action. But sanding would be a pain.

04-02-2019, 10:51 AM
Think of those inks as of thin layers of shellac spirit varnish.

04-02-2019, 11:27 AM
I find that Micron brand pens don't do very well on top of oil paint. They tend to stop working pretty quickly. Maybe you will have better luck than I do. If you have the same issue, see if you can find an oil based, permanent pigment pen.

Another option would be to use an adjustable ruling pen with thinned oil paints, though the drying time even with alkyds is going to be pretty slow compared to a Micron. The advantage to an oil paint based pen would be that the fine line work would not dissolve if you glaze over it like can happen with some art pens.

I have used Dr Bombay inks on gesso which I then seal with some Galkyd Lite thinned 50/50 with Gamsol to protect the inking. Once sealed I can glaze over the top with no disturbing of the inked lines. They are shellac based so as long as you don't brush too much when applying the Galkyd Lite, they stay pretty clean. Without the Galkyd sealing layer, I found that the ink would sometimes lift up when wiping off oil paint. I don't know how well those inks would work over white oil paint.

04-02-2019, 07:17 PM
contumacious, I'm so glad to have run into someone who has actually tried this. I'll heed your experience and follow something like your advice.

I now plan to sand down the areas in question and start completely afresh. In this way, I should be able to use pencil, microns, and whatever else to get the pattern I want. Non-oils on the bottom and oils on top, as ever.

But that won't be for a while because I want to let the paint cure a bit before I take sandpaper to it.