View Full Version : Galkyd

08-21-2000, 12:27 AM
Has anyone had a good experience with Galkyds? I am concerned that they seem to dry very fast and this may eventually become a problem with cracking and lack of luster in the paint.

08-21-2000, 09:34 PM
Hi, when you're a serious like me, you only use the best mediums in the world, that's why I use "Galkyd!"

Small voice from the audience: "Um, what's actually in Galkyd?"

It's Galkyd!

"Yes, you said that already, but what's IN it? What are the ingredients?"

Can't tell you that, kid. Trade secret.

My point? Never buy a pre-made medium that refuses to tell you what's in it. As a matter of fact, never buy any product that doesn't tell you what's in it. If a)you knew what was in it, and b)you knew anything about the chemistry of oils, turps, varnishes, and balsams, you'd drop the bottle on the floor for fear of its mere presence contaminating your artwork.

For example, if I was impressed with the texture and handling of a paint of a particular manufacturer, I would ask them what was in it and how they made it. If they told me it was a secret, I'd drop their product like a hot potato. What's the secret? The ingredients of a great tube of, say, ivory black, is cold pressed linseed oil (cleaned), and the ivory black pigment. At worst, the adulterants are chalks, barites, and waxes. If they won't tell you what's in it, you should shudder and move on. Are they afraid that you're suddenly going to buy all the raw materials from their suppliers and spend ALL of your time making them? No! I grind my own paints, but only because I have to. Not because it gives me a thrill ride. If there was a manufacturer who I KNEW to add only the genuine pigment and the right oil, I would buy from them consistently.

My point is: always be in full, absolute control of your mediums and materials. Don't emasculate yourself on the behalf of the mega-faceless art corporations.

For god's sake, artists gave the power of sales to galleries in the late 19th century. Don't you think artists are powerless enough as it is?

08-21-2000, 11:37 PM
Hi Wander ,
I found the regular ( thick ) galkyd to be too shiny and leathery - later paint layers would bead like crazy . Also it dries so fast that you have very little open time to manipulate a glaze - the paint starts crawling up on itself . Probably I was using too much though ...
I dont think you should worry too much about it drying too fast - as long as the layers underneath are dry to the touch . It seems very flexible . And believe me , a matte surface wont be a problem .

[This message has been edited by colinbarclay (edited August 21, 2000).]

08-22-2000, 11:03 PM
Originally posted by AIGottlieb:
Never buy a pre-made medium that refuses to tell you what's in it. As a matter of fact, never buy any product that doesn't tell you what's in it.

That certainly sounds like the pro-crypto socialists who want Microsoft to take the years of work they've put into their code and release it to be The People's Party Open Operating System.

Over the years we made hundreds and hundreds of experiments...expensive experiments, spent countless hours on overseas telephone calls, hundreds of letters, trips to various countries, bought expensive test equipment and, in my case, even went back to school to study some chemistry. Do you honestly feel that it's anyone's God-given right to have us share some proprietary secrets with them, just because they are a real live breathing human being? Either trust that we are making the best possible materials or don't. Very few artists are in the position to understand why we would use two different types of oil, two different resins, a thixotropic agent and a solvent to make our spray medium. Believe me, the chemistry is very complex. It's also absolutely permanent when used as directed. Of course any fool can screw it up by adding just a touch of their own ingredient to blindly customize it or use crappy paint or a poor support or slather the paint on inches thick; but used the way we recommend, we have had nothing but glowing reports on the glowing paintings.

There's much too much research and labor INVESTED in these things to blithely share the formulae in the spirit of naive friendship.

08-23-2000, 10:48 AM
I think there's a very black-and-white difference between the ingredients in a tube of paint and the code in a popular Microsoft program. In one case, finding out the code allows you to replicate the program (or whatever) on your own, personal home computer and sell it. Painting materials is quite a different universe. If I found out you use (just for argument) a super, high grade copal carnish in your spray medium, that won't allow me to suddenly be able to create at home that copal varnish. Related to what I said before, I can make my own soft varnishes, which is the simplest thing on earth to do. But if I KNEW that someone was selling perfect mastic varnish at a reasonable price, I would buy that repeatedly instead, thereby freeing up more of my time. Also, as with the tube of paint analogy, there should be no secret as to what is in it. The oil and the pigment. That's it.

Not every artist is a complete schmuck with art materials, and they should be given the chance to understand them thoroughly, not, as I said before, be further emasculated by ignorance. I am extraordinarily confident that the Dutch masters knew EXACTLY what was in their materials, and wouldn't have stood for the color maker guilds saying that the ingredients were a "trade secret."

Sorry, Rhoward. Gotta disagree with you on this one.

08-23-2000, 10:55 AM
I believe RHoward is referring to a question I sent him regarding what was in his spray medium he offers at Cenini. I was curious to know what I would be spraying but I do understand the business aspect of protecting your product.

08-23-2000, 11:16 AM
I see.

It's a dilemma, alright. On one hand you want your business to be protected, and on the other the artists have a right to know what the ingredients are. I don't have simple solution off the top of my head.

08-23-2000, 05:50 PM
The solution hinges on trust. I have a fondness for Benz automobiles because I can trust that they will behave in the way I want them to and that they are made to exacting standards. Some of the technical information about the computer operated suspension system on oue SL500 is fascinating, but they did not describe the type of steel they used nor who made the computer chips. Is it my "right" to know? Would I even understand their reasoning in choosing this or that approach? I rather doubt it.

If I knew a bit more, perhaps I could square that info with my vast bank of automotive ignorance and arrive at some pretty stupid conclusions. So much for the need to know

Cennini Forum http://studioproducts.com/forum/forum.html

08-23-2000, 08:24 PM
But Rhoward, I'm not talking about medieval peasants wanting to know the chemical makeup of a medium. I'm talking about educated artists who would actually understand when told to them. Until that artist is fully educated, then chances are that he is going to make some pretty errant conclusions. But when he's a Grand Poobah of art materials chemistry, well, that's what I'm talking about.

A mechanic could talk to me about my car, telling me that my car is low on glove compartment fluid (Windsor & Newton parallel), and I'd just nod and ask how much it would cost to fix. However, if a car mechanic visits an auto supply shop, the owner can talk all the technobabble he wants and the mechanic will always be able to understand him.

[This message has been edited by AIGottlieb (edited August 23, 2000).]

08-24-2000, 08:49 AM
Originally posted by AIGottlieb:
I'm not talking about medieval peasants wanting to know the chemical makeup of a medium. I'm talking about educated artists who would actually understand when told to them

Adrian, perhaps your associations with the seats of art education left you with a greater respects for them than I have, but I can only judge by what their final product (the students) are like. Most seem to be rudderless and without a clue, still adhering to The Official Art School Medium of equal parts damar, oil and turps (does anyone know what that's supposed to do?). But for those educated art school grads who you claim know this stuff, here goes:
I can speak only in terms of general chemical groups, but the educated student will immediately understand the logic in this formulation. The purpose of this medium is to, naturally, adhere to the four basic qualities of any painting medium (binding, adhesion, optical and handling qualities). Most important here were the handling qualities because it is applied as a thin film which acts primarily as a lubricant (secondarily an adhesive). Although thin enough to spray it should not drip. This means it should have thixotropic characteristics. The commonly available thixotropic agents all contain aromatic rings which react with UV to release free radicals. As all well-educated art students know, those free radicals cause the darkening and cracking of the paint film. Those same well-educated art students would then say that we must avoid those thixotropic agents with their aromatic benzene rings and aim toward an all-aliphatic constituency. Unfortunately, the aliphatic ingredients are not particularly thixotropic...at least they aren't thixotropic when used alone, but mixed in combination with other ingredients containing somewhat different aliphatic components, we were able to produce a thin film that had a reasonable degree of thixotropicity with none of the aromatic rings that would cause defects in the paint film.

Getting reasonable thixotropicity in a thin film is difficult. Too heavy a coat will defeat the purpose. The medium is meant to be painted into and not mixed with the paint. That simple method does more to insure a lasting and unchanged painting than will mixing with ANY medium. Mediums, by their very nature, are less stable than paint and should be used with discretion.

Diluting tube paints to the level of housepaint guarantees later problems with the paint film. It doesn't matter what medium you use as a diluent.

Cennini Forum http://studioproducts.com/forum/forum.html

08-24-2000, 10:43 PM
Yes ,Adrian, I am familiar with the Florence school. Knowing what I know after all these years in the profession, it is not a place at which I would choose to study.

I had a studio at the Fenway Studios when Gammell was running his operation there. As with the school in Florence and few other scattered here and there, they are more clubs than schools for producing people capable of going into the world of art in which we live. If we lived in the 16th or even 18th centuries, those schools would be better suited to producing students capable of more than just teaching other students to teach other students to teach the Sacred Writ and Holy Method.

Don't get me wrong,what they teach is more useful than what most art schools and (especially) university art departments teach, but they seem to be locked into a priesthood rather than teaching a trade. That they keep alive the torch is a good thing, but the thrust of all of them is similar to the guiding precepts behind those third generation Americans who train to go back to reclaim their grandparent's homeland from the evil regimes that drove their relatives from its shores. Just as those third generation kids who can scarecely speak Ukrainian or Srbian or whatever it was that Gramps spoke, have only a fantasy linking them with the "old country," so to do the students who labor over those dreadfully dark and dingy paintings meant to emulate some master who lived before central heating and modern medicine. They hope to, as Sir Herbet Read put it, "hammer the detritus of defunct empires into a new Golden Age of art" without understanding much about the times in which those masters lived and why their artwork was lively for the times in which they inhabited. Instead, those schools have everyone breathing the air from coffins exhumed long ago.

It would be viewed as silly for a contemporary music student to write in the style of Mozart and to purposely close his eyes to the existence of recordings, CDs, electronic instruments, the 12-tone scale and a hundred other changes and advances that have happened since Mozart was laid tro rest. Yet they have no problem with ressurecting a narrow (and poorly remembered) period of painting history and stick with it as if True Art died with Rembrandt.

The enforced blindness to any art that took place after that golden period is deemed unworthy of study. Back to the music analogy, that would mean that everyone from Rossini toRock would be shuttered away and never studied with any energy. Only a very narrow period in art history will be studied. What's even more interesting is that those "c;assical" schools teach absolutely nothing about pictorial composition save for some very, very rudimentary forms of what lies at the basis of the emotional message of art. They treat proper drawing and painting technique as the be-all and end-all of art rather than what they are...part of the rudiments, like learning to play the scales.

From what I have seen in the catalogues of those schools, there are some competent renderers teaching in those places. But nowhere have I seen signs of the contrived compositions that distinguished the old masters -- the scenes with a number of people engaged in some dramatic activity. Instead I see mostly one or two figures carefully rendered, but with no message. It's like witnessing skilled typist who think that they are novelists because their spelling is good.

Adrian, for me, Art was always what I wanted to do for a living not a hobby. Just because I make money at it does not mean that I don't love doing it. Sure, my attitude toward making art is very different from those frothy days of my youth when I was filled with romantic and unrealistic notions of what art was. I soon found that just technical skill was only the entrance requirement -- you had to be able to actually say something besides just demonstrate that you could paint all the fingers on a hand or get the eyes to look as though they were wet. That's what the students have to learn before they can pass from that apprenticeship stage to the journeyman stage (certainly not the stage of being a master). Whilst I have seen numerous of the teachers in those schools demand that they are treated like delicate princes and masters, the work issuing from their studios gives lie to their mastery.

This is not to say that those schools are scams. They do serve a purpose. But the reverence they demand of the students is something that would be more appropriately brought to a worship service in a church.

The field of art is far too all encompassing to be seen through that tiny perspective. It might be very possible that history will reveal Warhol to be every bit as important as Leonardo. Wouldn't it be awful if the prejudices we learned prevented us from seeing that? As I say, all these years in the profession gives one a different perspective.

Cennini Forum http://studioproducts.com/forum/forum.html

[This message has been edited by rhoward (edited August 24, 2000).]

08-25-2000, 12:24 AM
If you were trying to confuse me, don't worry! You succeeded. That's why I'm trying to learn all this, so that I don't get confused by this. This is my craft, so I want to understand this inside and out, top to bottom.

I feel kind of petty for defending my school, but I think you've got the wrong idea of where I'm coming from. Have you seen the results of our school? Check out the school's web page at www.florenceacademyofart.com, (http://www.florenceacademyofart.com,) and tell me if you have just as much disdain for them.

I hope I've never said, even insinuated, that I knew everything about the chemistry of our materials. But that's not to say that I'm not trying to. If I did know everything, I wouldn't be here trading notes.

[This message has been edited by AIGottlieb (edited August 24, 2000).]

08-25-2000, 10:53 AM
I have to agree with you on one very important point. It is certainly true that too many (not all. I've known the exceptions) atelier students tend to see high technical skill as art unto itself. I thought your secretary analogy was great. I'm going to keep that one for the future. This is why I refer to all my works as studies, rather than works of art. Even when I turn out the golden boy of the year, the best painting I've ever done up to that point in my life, it's still just a technical exercise.

I believe (a hardly controversial or original belief) that the impressionists got into gear because they were tired of the incredible tightness of the academies. I'm referring in this case to rules in painting, such as that the neck is grayer or creamier; that the cheeks and nose are always redder; the forehead is always creamier, etc. etc. etc. This is great as a loose guide, but people were actually painting necks the "correct color," ignoring the "deviations" in any of their models. I can see how this could disillusion people. But I also think that the impressionist (by the way, I'm going somewhere with this, Rhoward. Bear with me) and expressionist movement totally over-reacted. They completely took apart all of the academia and threw out the baby with the bath water. This wasn't necessary. The same scenario had happened a couple hundred years earlier when a young rebel named Rembrandt Van Rijn ignored a blossoming set of rules much seen in the 19th century. He rebelled by painting what he saw. He went back to the humanism of naturalist realism. He did NOT tear down all of the establishment. And now he lives in most peoples' minds as the greatest genius ever to put brush to canvas.

The Dutch era in oil painting was the Golden Age of art, in my humble opinion, and there is every reason in the world to emulate it. I see nobody alive today, nobody at all, who is worth emulating. The best painter today would be incredibly mediocre at best to the Dutch. And that's being mighty generous.

What is "realism" today? To all too many people it means copying from photographs. Now hey, I'm not a total extremist. Photographs can be great for organizing compositions and working on the drawing when the model isn't there (most people won't sit for more than a very few sittings, these days). But every time I see a painting copied in totum from a photographed, it looks like it's been copied from...well, a photograph. It looks so flat, and even a very, very good copy feels stale. I feel like I should admire its supposed technical skill, but I don't feel anything sublime in it whatsoever. So I admire the technical skill (at best) and soon move on to the next piece, never giving it a second's thought. This should not be emulated if you want to paint like a naturalist realist.

I can understand the philosophy of living in the present, and to not grasping for a dead Golden Age. But I see nothing in the naturalist realist styles of today that particularly inspire me, or can hope to compare with the Masters. But art history is my weakest point. Please tell me who is living today that I SHOULD emulate.

08-25-2000, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by AIGottlieb:
Please tell me who is living today that I SHOULD emulate.

I will give you the most difficult and challenging answer...YOU. I Know that sounds like those cutesy-poo pronunciamentoes from most professional art teachers...especially the ones who haven't a clue as to their own individuality.

Believe me, Adrian, I am still struggling with defining my own vision. Thus far, I've conclueded that I don't like to render, I like to lay in a stroke that is the right color, shape and value for that particular passage. That's damned difficult. Especially if you don't want to modify it with glazes.
The other thing I've noticed is that I tend tostress design elements, especially repeating shapes to create rythmns. Past that, I've been a long time in coming to anything one would call a style. Two of my partners hit solid styles when they were still in their 20's and have developed along a straight path, polishing and growing within the constraints of that style. Still, the same philosophical problems confront us as when we were younger artists.

For me, the biggest breakthrough came about five years ago when I just didn't give a damn anymore. I had mastered my technique and method and, over the years had done so many pictures that I've long since lost count. I got to the point where it was no longer a holy crusade and I just didn't care about what people thought of the work as long as they paid for it...give me your money, not your opinions. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif

Whilst I do not admire Damian Hirst's work, I admire the fact that he teaches his students how to make a living in today's art world. That means knowing how to go after the big bucks grants. Of course, if they want to be bought up by Saatchi, they have to conform to a set of standards. Is that whoring one's talent? Sure, but so is painting the portraits of a bunch of local militiamen and assigning them so much space according to the amount they paid, as Rembrandt did with the Night Watch.

There's so much more to making art than just technical skills. A good example is a contemporary painter I admire greatly -- Chuck Close. I did not much like his early stuff, but after he had his stroke and was partially paralyzed, he work took off in a new direction because, not despite, his physical infirmity. This artist used his brain to break down each section of his pixelated pictures to individual color studies. Each one of those "pixels" contains a great deal of brushwork and color...very abstract and often quite original in color concept. When the viewer backs way up from the picture, it comes together into a photorealistic piece. How he balances the colors used in each of those little blocks is the work of an amazing mind.

As with the aging Matisse, Chuck Close must wear a hand brace and have the brush attached to the brace. Working from a wheelchair, he designed a hydraulic easel that raises and lowers his huge canvases into the floor. It even turns the painting. Close is an example of prodigious talent and lots of heart. But what's most exciting is that after a paralyzing stroke, he came back stronger than ever and proced works that will be important for a long time.

Lucien Freud is another contemporary whose work is admirable, especially the small studies. I am als very fond of Hockney and how he is re-investigating Cubism. That was a movement that was discarded well before it had been fully explored.

Being a painter in this time is almost an anachronism -- especially being a traditionalist. The great art of our era is the cinema. It attracts the best and brightest talent and, though often crippled by peurile story lines, the level of artistry is truly unfathomable. Very few painting will move people in the way a film can. For me, that's what is lacking from most of today's realist paintings -- heart!

In my own way, I try to evoke an emotion in my pictures. It's not accidental. I begin with the emotion in mind and then use every compositional and color device at my disposal to put that idea forward. Just depicting a set of features is easy and any mediocre painter can pull it off. But defining a specific characteristic of the sitter and then having most viewers come to the same conclusion is where art lies. When something is left up to the interpretation of the viewer, the artist has not worked hard enough or does not have the talent to convey clear and simple messages.

As for using photos, the only thing to rememeber is that the camera has only one eye. How important is that to the way we see? Cover one eye and run down a flight of stairs and you see what I mean (after they stitch you up). Over the years, as an illustrator, I learned to use photos in a convincing fashion -- a fashion built on the way two eyes observes. It's all in the edges. That's why I promote the method I show with the spray medium at http://studioproducts.com/demo/demo.html
Using that method assures that most of ones edges are soft, as they appear to the human eye. With just a few well chosen hard edges, the pieces take on a feeling of depth and weight. It has little to do with whether one used photos or a model, but with how they used photos or a model.

You've got a lot ahead of you and I don't envy you your youth. I was fortunate to have started in a time that was kinder to young artists. You'll need all the fortitude that you can muster to avoid getting sucked into some form of ancestor worship. Be Here Now.


Cennini Forum http://studioproducts.com/forum/forum.html

09-09-2000, 04:37 AM
Seems to me that the question asked concerned Gamblin's Galkyd. I have used the galkad lite, and liked it, but........I was teaching, and bought a quart of the stuff. Because I wasn't painting every day (because I taught 4) I didn't notice that the contents of the container, when opened, started setting up. The air let into the container when I was working. i.e. putting a small amount into a medium cup. Caused the entire contents to turn to jelly. When I called Gamblin, they said I should have put the quart's contents into a number of small bottles. The advice was far too late. I stopped using the product.
Almost without being aware of it, I started using Weber's Res.n.gel which I like.
The alkayd resin is far more durable than dammar. I have mostly stopped thinking about my medium, and now just use it.

God Blesses!

357 Mag
10-09-2000, 03:38 PM
How about getting out of the dark and into the light? Forget the old masters for awhile and study impressionism. Look at Ted Goershner's book. What he can do with 2 strokes as opposed to 3 layers and 20 glazes is amazing.

10-10-2000, 06:14 AM
357, why don't you post your work so I can perhaps judge more than your cover.

10-17-2000, 06:12 PM
A lot of information on Galkyd is available on the Gamblin Artist' Oil Colors web site. They have a variety of mediums and also offer helpful advice on how to use them.

I happen to like their products a lot. Their paints are excellent.


[This message has been edited by bk7251 (edited October 17, 2000).]

08-21-2005, 10:13 PM
I am a simple artist who try to know what he does and what he uses for that. So the content of commercial mediums is still an absolute secret to me. But as a professional artist, I can't admit any ignorance. On the stretcher back wooden parts of my paintings, I always write the exact list of all the materials I used, and how I used them. And no one one try to make the same in order to steel me a buyer.
I know that the binder of some alkyd housepaints contains a polyamid modified long-oil alkyd resin which imparts a good resistance to running or sagging of the wet film. The paint viscosity increases when you let it untouched, but decreases rapidly when you work it, in order to offer an easily brushable paste. This is more or less a rheological behaviour we can call thixotropic. I also know that it exists some formulations in which the rheology and the ageing qualities of the paint are even improved by mixing this modified alkyd with metacrylate resins diluted in mineral spirits. I suppose a medium called galkyd would contain such stuffs? We will never know.
About the trade secrets: in food industry, there are some laws which force the manufacturers to reveal the products ingredients. As far as i know, the food companies are not knocked down by such rules. But people have the right to know if their biscuits are made with hydrogenated soybean oil or with butter. Governments consider that it is a matter of public health to reveal what you put exactly in your body while eating. And the people don't boycott the food companies. They simply can make an enlighted choice.
It is not the case for artists. Some consider art to be only as the fifth wheel of the car. It is a mean to earn money. Some others consider it as important as food or oxygen for human beings. They are even ready to spent money for it. Compare Salvador Dali with Ad Reinhardt... I consider art as an important thing. So important that it could be by the less as well treated as human food. I am sure that if we force the manufacturers to write everything they put in their tubes, they will cry as if they were killed. But it would not be the terrible thing they pretend. And painters could have their materials really chosen by themselves, good or bad. It would also make instantaneously disappear the swindle suspicion they feel about their suppliers.

08-21-2005, 10:36 PM
Hi, when you're a serious like me, you only use the best mediums in the world, that's why I use "Galkyd!"

Small voice from the audience: "Um, what's actually in Galkyd?"

It's Galkyd!

"Yes, you said that already, but what's IN it? What are the ingredients?"

Can't tell you that, kid. Trade secret.

My point? Never buy a pre-made medium that refuses to tell you what's in it. As a matter of fact, never buy any product that doesn't tell you what's in it.

I take it you don't eat a lot of sausage.

08-21-2005, 10:44 PM
A lot of information on Galkyd is available on the Gamblin Artist' Oil Colors web site. They have a variety of mediums and also offer helpful advice on how to use them.

I happen to like their products a lot. Their paints are excellent.


[This message has been edited by bk7251 (edited October 17, 2000).]

All they say is that it's an "alkyd resin/petroleum solvent mixture."

I liked Gamblin when I first started painting, but I'm not so keen on them any more.

08-22-2005, 11:09 AM
All I can say is -- I dont WANT to know whats in Scrapple :)

08-22-2005, 01:26 PM
I take it you don't eat a lot of sausage.This is an old thread, AIGottlieb hasn't been around for three years.