View Full Version : A second opinion requested, please.

11-28-2001, 06:31 PM
I took a landscape workshop a few weeks ago. Love the artist's work and he is enjoying great success...

He gave us some medium, he mixes himself; 1
part damar varnish,1 part stand oil and 1 part gum turpentine.

He paints alla prima. He says, this is the only medium he uses and when using this there is no need to varnish the painting at a later date. This makes it possible to frame your painting when it is dry to the touch and get it on the gallery wall quicker.

I want to hear from others who have used this or others... who do not advise it.

I don't have the techical knowlege to weigh the advisability of the practice. It sounds wonderful, if there are no drawbacks.

Please Advise!:confused:

11-28-2001, 06:49 PM
I use a similar medium in my color stages.

You can indeed use this medium and not varnish, but it is risky and not good the the long term outlook of the work. Here is why:

The reason you varnish is to give a removable layer above your painting that can get dirty. If you remove that dirty layer, then you aren't removng any of your painting, so there is less risk of cleaning too far. With no varnish, the person who cleans it will almost immediatly start washing away your painting - not good. That said, many commercially successful artists don't varnish and figure they will be long dead before any problems with cleaning the work emerge.

The other thing to know about any painting medium that contains Damar is that there is a risk of over cleaning the painting. Damar is removable with solvent - which is why it is used as a final varnish layer. So, if there is damar in your medium, there is a real risk that a future conservator could clean too deeply and eat into your color. I put my medium recipe on the backs of all my paintings so anyone cleaning it in the future will know. And, I don't varnish with Damar, but Gamvar from Gamblin. Gamvar is easier to remove with milder solvents.

So, you don't have to stop using a medium that contains damar, but be aware of the limitations it imposes on the permancy of your work.

11-28-2001, 08:54 PM
Sargent used linseed oil as his medium and varnished with damar. It makes you wonder about all the hoopla about secret mediums and their wonders. Believe me if you have a beautfiul stroke to lay down, it will be noticed by others inspite of all of ones archival endeavors with formulas! Good basics will out live you and your grandchildren if not discarded first before hand. BTW damar is diluted easily with turpentine which makes it the ideal picture varnish when removal is necessary. :oL

11-28-2001, 10:49 PM
Thanks guys for the responses. I have had questions about using damar as a part of a medium recipe. I've read about a lot of people doing it but have always felt that it would be nearly impossible to restore or clean without diturbing the damar in the medium mixture. I will not be doing it. :)

11-28-2001, 11:07 PM
Originally posted by paintfool
Thanks guys for the responses. I have had questions about using damar as a part of a medium recipe. I've read about a lot of people doing it but have always felt that it would be nearly impossible to restore or clean without diturbing the damar in the medium mixture. I will not be doing it. :)

Successful cleaning of a painting with damar as part of the medium is completely possible by a good art restorer. It helps if they know what's under the damar (or other) final varnish however, which is why I warn them on my paintings.

11-28-2001, 11:23 PM
Ah! Got it! I still doubt that i'll use it.

11-28-2001, 11:40 PM
I had a vague recall of hearing advice against this practice at one time, but, since I was not doing it, and had not (still haven't) painted very many oil paintings, it went over my head.

I did like using it as my painting medium. It was soft and smooth without being slick, and did not get sticky, like Liquin does with my poky, study and reconsider every stroke, pace.

Using linseed oil is tricky for this beginner as well, I tend to get heavy handed with it too soon, or stingy with it the next stroke and wind up with uneven results, i.e., sunk spots.

As I understood Verdaccio, it is okay to use it as a medium, but should be noted for later consevators (not that I expect any masterpieces with a half dozen paintings, but, who knows...genius may strike at any minute :D). And varnish at a later date.

Thank you all for your advice.

BTW, the painter teaching this workshop has been painting professionally for 50 years. He is currently selling (beautiful, impressionistic landscapes, for $3000 & up). I really admire his style. Just goes to show, it helps to gather information from many sources. Learn all that you can and make informed judgements about what you want to utilize.

Thank you again.

11-29-2001, 11:50 AM
I'm really enjoying this brief but instructional thread, since I'm flirting with using just such a mixture. Currently I use only a bit of mineral spirits as a medium. (Actually, I've "progressed" to using a little linseed in later stages.)

My question: BillieD - you've really piqued (is that how you spell it?) my curiosity. I'd love to know more about this artist you studied with. Does he have any images on the web? Who is he/she?

And Verdaccio: I just checked your website after having frequently enjoyed - and always respected - your posts. I am REALLY impressed. I'm love your work and am fascinated by your "Old Masters" technique

11-29-2001, 02:05 PM
just to clarify: a limited use of the medium (or almost any medium) is not specifically harmful. it's fine to use mediums that contain damar, as long as they are not overused or painted over with oilier layers before the damar-layers are dry. in a single layer technique like alla prima, the latter is not a concern. a final picture varnish is always the artists' decision, but it greatly enhances the longevity of the painting.

using only linseed oil can be very tricky. a great advantage to painting with a little damar is that its easier to control and increases drying times. unfortunately, it also increases gloss and brittleness. a good rule with mediums is: all things in moderation!