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View Full Version : Read thru the archives and am now confused about mediums ...


snakum
12-28-2001, 05:27 PM
I need a little advice if someone has the time ... here's the scenario ...

Becoming embolden by just a little success (very little) with pastels I bought a small set of Rowney oils and have been slinging paint all over the place this week. Much fun ... but not much results ... I'm confident that will come in time.

I've been reading everything I could find here about oil painting mediums and have even tried various combinations of mineral spirits and walnut oil (because that's all I happened to have on hand). However, I am now completely confused and my paint isn't drying and I feel like I just need to go with the old standby. So, I went out at lunch and picked up Grumbacher turpentine and W&N Linseed Oil (I'm not ready to tackle varnish or cleaning my linseed oil further, yet) and here's what I've managed to process out of my confusion ...

When I'm painting and I need my paint a little 'runnier' I dip my brush into the turpentine, pick up the paint, and lay into it. If I need a little 'transparency' without 'runny' I dip into a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil (three to one mixture) and then have at it.

Is this correct? I have a number of oil painting books at home from local libraries and I've read alot here, but I'm just not clear about the most basic things, still. Should I mix these substances into the paint with a pallet knife before I pick it up on the brush? Is the medium ratio of oil to turps correct? If I place three or four small, cleaned, lead fishing weights in my bottle of linseed oil will it make a noticable difference in drying time?

Thanks for your patient indulgence, this site has been a godsend for my new hobbies. :)

Thich Minh Snakum Thong

Rose Queen
12-28-2001, 07:40 PM
My only experience with oil paint was 40 or so years ago in paint-by-number kits, but I'm going to suggest you send a private message to Verdaccio (click the "members" button above to find him) because he can probably answer this question in two seconds flat. You might also want to do a search on WetCanvas for a recent post about "stand oil."

Happy paint slinging!



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Michael2
12-29-2001, 10:04 AM
Mediums is something that oil painters make out to be a lot more mysterious than they really are!

The paint that comes out of the tube is too thick to paint with, so it has to be thinned down with something. There is no right or wrong way to thin down the paint (so long as you follow the fat over lean rule, which says that in multilayers applications, the top layers should have a higher ratio of fat [oil] to lean [turpentine or other solvent]).

Oil paints do take a long time to dry. If you put some alkyd medium like Liquin in there they will dry a lot faster.

But anyway, don't worry so much about the medium, mineral spirits and linseed oil are fine to mix in with your paints and they are what is most commonly used.

Leopoldo1
12-29-2001, 11:07 AM
Well I think most of us would agree we would like to paint like Sargent and his medium was linseed oil only, so go figure. I tried them all, copal, damar, canada balsalm, mastic, maroger, linseed oil and plus the thinners like turps, turpenoid, oil of spike, clove oil to keep the palette open longer and black oil to speed the drying for a next day techinque. The great Russain artist Nicolai Fechin would squeeze out pigment onto a newspaper the night before so he had a dry thick pigment to work with for his glorious portraits. The important thing is to do and then discover your signature and instead of trying to stay in a tight set of rules. :oL

Michael2
12-29-2001, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by Leopoldo
Well I think most of us would agree we would like to paint like Sargent and his medium was linseed oil only, so go figure.

I didn't know that, but if true, it's a great example of how being a great painter isn't about the medium!

Unfortunately, Sargent's paintings are all cracked :( I strongly believe that if he mixed a little Liquin in with his paints, the resulting paint film would have been stronger and more flexible and less prone to cracking.

snakum
12-29-2001, 01:32 PM
As I understand it so far ... there are the 'glazers/layerers', the 'impasto-ers', and the 'all-at-oncers'. Which one of these was Sargent?

I LOVE what little I've seen of Sargent (and Ingres).

Minh Snakey Thong

Leopoldo1
12-29-2001, 02:06 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Michael
Unfortunately, Sargent's paintings are all cracked :( I strongly believe that if he mixed a little Liquin in with his paints, the resulting paint film would have been stronger and more flexible and less prone to cracking.

Mike that is not true. I seen a number of his paintings both at the special traveling showing in Seattle and just recently at the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, some were cracked but just as many were not! After my few modest years of painting I learned that cracking came from not so much the medium but the improper use of it and not following the fat over lean theory and from too much glazing or blending thin layer upon thin layer in order to work out ones realism. Below is a painting of mine that cracked with liquin as one of the ingredients for a medium. I don't use liquin anymore. :oL
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Dec-2001/creeper.jpg

Leopoldo1
12-29-2001, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by snakum
As I understand it so far ... there are the 'glazers/layerers', the 'impasto-ers', and the 'all-at-oncers'. Which one of these was Sargent?

I LOVE what little I've seen of Sargent (and Ingres).

Minh Snakey Thong

Upsidedown Minh,

I believe you would have to throw Sargent in with the 'all-at-oncers' even though this isn't entirely true, since he was know to lay down a brush stroke and then scrap it off sometimes over and over again until the look presented itself as a gorgeous alla prima brush stroke. I discovered that fact last year and now looking once again at his work it makes sense even though it all looked so effortless for him! :oL

Michael2
12-29-2001, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by Leopoldo
Below is a painting of mine that cracked with liquin as one of the ingredients for a medium. I don't use liquin anymore. :oL
[/B]

That kills the Liquin theory!

Or does it? I guess it doesn't magically prevent all cracking, but it's supposed make a more flexible paint film that's resistant to cracking as well as yellowing. Who am I to argue with the chemists at Winsor & Newton?

My two year old paintings haven't cracked :)

Leopoldo1
12-29-2001, 06:15 PM
Originally posted by Michael
That kills the Liquin theory!

Heh Mike, I guess I made it sound like the cracking was due to the use of liquin, since I discontinued it's use, but that is not the case, it was how I mixed and applied the pigments, a learning experience.

All mediums in oil painting should be used for the aiding in the binding of the pigment particles, a more desired viscosity while painting and then the overall dried appearance of the paint film, usually more lustrious/rich looking. That fat over lean theory is a big one!:oL

ldallen
12-29-2001, 07:03 PM
I think the fat over lean theory is probably the most important factor. Also I don't think anyone mentioned that it is wise to use as little medium as possible. Milt (Bruin) recommended Cold Pressed Linseed oil which I have started using just recently and I LOVE it. I also use Garretts' Copal medium which is marvelous. William Whitaker advocates walnut oil (the pure kind you get in a health food store) and I am planning on trying that, too. I might use a little turp in my initial sketch - but never after that.

Have fun with your endeavor!!

paintfool
12-29-2001, 09:16 PM
You've been missed! :)
I love my liquin and i'm a big fan of stand oil. I think that the thing is to find what works for you and adhere to the fat over lean rule, as well as what Les has mentioned: Do not use more medium than what you have to to achieve the desired effects. I believe that a lot of cracking can be eliminated by learning to use mediums as a tool but not as a large portion of your application. All things in moderation...
Cheryl

Leopoldo1
12-29-2001, 10:00 PM
Originally posted by paintfool
You've been missed! :)

Thanks Cheryl, you kind hearted Moderator!

Michael2
12-30-2001, 12:57 AM
Originally posted by ldallen
Milt (Bruin) recommended Cold Pressed Linseed oil which I have started using just recently and I LOVE it.

Now that's interesting, because I KNOW that I've read somewhere that refined linseed oil is more archival.

Michael2
12-30-2001, 12:38 PM
"As a paint vehicle, alkyds create a paint film that is comparable in stability to that of traditional oils. In fact, Dr. Marion Mecklenburg, Senior Research Scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, has been researching the stability of oil films since 1978, attempting to identify the factors that contribute to the most secure paint film possible. Winsor & Newton Alkyd Oil Colours have shown extraordinary stability and stretchability.

With few exceptions, tests on twenty-year old Winsor & Newton alkyds show the paint film remaining stretchable up to 10% before breaking. Thatís amazing, considering that traditional oil colours of the same age exhibit stretchability of only 1-2%."

I think that should make it clear that if one painted strictly with alkyd paints, using no oil non-alkyd oils at all, the resulting paintings would have much superior archival characteristics over traditional oil paintings.

Now, it's a different question as to what mixes of oils and alkyds do. But as far as I've read, the alkyd mixes in with the oil to create a paint film that imparts some of the alkyd benefits of greater flexibility and less yellowing.

Why not just paint with the pure alkyd paints that W&N manufactures? Well, frankly, they just aren't that wonderful to work with. Besides not having the buttery consistency of linseed oil paints, the alkyd resin holds much less pigment than linseed oil, so the resulting paints are very transparent in comparison to artists' quality oil paints.

belladonna
01-01-2002, 04:58 PM
I use to have a lot of trouble with shiny and dull spots in my work when I used turpentine and oil separately. I was very frustrated with it all till I started using a Grumbacher premixed medium. (grumbacher oil painting medium #1) It is a mix of turpentine, copal and poppy seed oil. I have been using it for about 20 years now with no ill effects that I can see so far. For me a premixed medium is the way to go. Saves me a lot of fussing and the end result is far more consistent, but then, I'm a lazy painter. My first under painting is still done with just turps though. They also make a nice clear tube gel made from refined linseed oil that is great for glazing.

sarkana
01-01-2002, 06:44 PM
a medium is a very very individual thing. i would never be caught dead with a bottle of liquin but i know tons of painters who swear by the stuff. i can't stand the smell of alkyds and believe their archivability is debatable. in my own experience, liquin proved much more yellowing and less flexible than linseed alone. but i digress.

for me, a medium needs a resin. my medium recipes consist of a solvent, a resin, and an oil. for the finishing layers, i use straight walnut oil. walnut oil with a drop of coblat drier in it is a fantastic medium!

but here are 2 solvent/resin/oil recipes. they are great for glazing but also for more general painting. #1 dries in hours, #2 needs a day or two. more recipes at http://store.yahoo.com/sarkana/recipes.html

PAINTING MEDIUM 1

* 1 cup damar varnish
* 1 cup stand oil
* 3 cups pure gum turpentine
don't use odorless or any other turpentine substitute in this recipe. damar is not perfectly soluble in anything but turpentine. stand oil is used for its non-yellowing qualities, but linseed oil is okay and will pretty much work.

PAINTING MEDIUM 2

* 1 part venetian turpentine
* 1 part walnut oil
* 4 parts pure gum turpentine
* splash oil of spike lavender (optional)
let this one sit overnight to give the elements a chance to combine. thin with genuine turp, the odorless stuff is not strong enough to thin most natural resins.

snakum
01-01-2002, 08:14 PM
Thanks for the assistance everyone, you guys are the most gracious and most (infinitely) patient group of professionals I've come across on the net.

Sarkana - I'm slang'n your Medium #1 today as I try glazing for the first time. I'll post the result if comes out looking even remotely like a painting.

Thanks again all!

Minh Thong