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Old 04-12-2012, 10:03 AM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Interesting discussion Sid, and Ron. It struck me that we should also consider the notion that different oil colors contain different amounts of drying oil. In hand making paint, it is at times astounding how much oil goes into certain pigments, in the mulling process. This should be considered, as it is entirely possible to squeeze out a paint nut from two different tubes, add linseed oil to one of the nuts, and have its oil content still be lower than the other nut, to which nothing was added. Ivory black comes to mind.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:25 AM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: Fat over lean?

hi jt, yes that is a consideration too.
Meanwhile, I was able to find a thread where Amien is answering a question where they do say that adding solvent will make a paint mix leaner, and I do agree with this fully. My apologies to amien also, what i think is happening is that people are reading their bit on solvent not changing the oil to pigment ratio and then arguing that it does not make the paint leaner and therefore should not be a factor, when in fact, it is an important factor.
Here: http://www.amien.org/forums/showthre...t=solvent+lean
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:22 PM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: Fat over lean?

Another thread here from Amien where they are describing the process of painting thick over thin while incorporating the fat over lean rule:
summary of the process:
1st layer- thin soup consistency, thinned only with solvent thinner.(thin)
2nd layer- sour cream consistency, less thinned. (thicker)
3rd layer- tube consistency, straight paint or paint thinned with an oil.(thicker and/or oilier)
4th layer- impasto, or can add even more oil. (thickest, and/or oiliest)
Quote:
Our recommendation for oil painting is that the first layer can be thinned to the consistency of a thin soup with a thinner, alone. Immediately thereafter, a layer of paint is used to cover up the initial lay-in; this layer can also be thinned, but only a bit -- the paint should have the consistency of, perhaps, sour cream. The next layer can be paint straight from the tube, thinned with a medium that adds an oil -- following the rule of "fat over lean"; the medium can be any kind of an oil medium or oil/alkyd medium. The final layer should have even more medium added, and this is where the artist could incorporate scattered impasto.
this information is from Amien from this thread.
I noted earlier how I would incorporate glazes, that they would be over dried layers. Amien agrees with this logic in various other threads on their site.
I am building up a raft of information here in this thread that will serve as a repository for this question as it comes up again every week because I personally do not want to ever spend any more of my time discussing it and thus I or someone can just reference the information here and be done with it and I can just paint instead. .
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Last edited by sidbledsoe : 04-12-2012 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:56 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Im saying to myself "keep it simple stupid" but just starting to oil paint in layers today and I think examples seem to help me to explain this whole process better. Im still very new to oil painting.
This helped me.
Quote:
1st layer- thin soup consistency, thinned only with solvent thinner.(thin)
2nd layer- sour cream consistency, less thinned. (thicker)
3rd layer- tube consistency, straight paint or paint thinned with an oil.(thicker and/or oilier)
4th layer- impasto, or can add even more oil. (thickest, and/or oiliest)
Would this work for me? Just to make sure I got this right.
When glazing I can use just turpentine for the first layer. 2nd layer with less turp, 3rd layer add a little linseed,4th and so on add more linseed oil to each till the last layer use strait paint.
Simple dumb down terms for me lol. Sorry Im a newbie. Im sure there is different methods but will that work out for me?
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:18 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidbledsoe
Fat over lean just doesn't work. It is so narrow minded and tunnel visioned because it doesn't consider anything but one silly dimension of a complex, variable, multi-dimensional process. It needs to be scrapped because it does far more to confuse people than it has ever done to help them out. i am sorry my frustration level was low after another unrelated thing.

I am so happy that others are unhappy with this 'rule'

Thinners dry at different speeds: hardware store mineral spirits, turpentine, liquin, spike lavender, OMS,

Oils dry at different speeds: linseed, walnut, safflower, poppy, etc...

Old paint dries more quickly than new (or is that just my imagination/experience).

Pigments dry at different rates, even without taking into account such things as
manganese impurities.

Paint brands dry at different rates, due to additives and such.

Layer thickness is just yet another wrench in the works.

One cannot distill such complexity into a limerick, it must be accounted for
the hard way.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:23 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

its hard but it must be exploited to get the best results.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:43 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by plog
I am so happy that others are unhappy with this 'rule'

Thinners dry at different speeds: hardware store mineral spirits, turpentine, liquin, spike lavender, OMS,

Oils dry at different speeds: linseed, walnut, safflower, poppy, etc...

Old paint dries more quickly than new (or is that just my imagination/experience).

Pigments dry at different rates, even without taking into account such things as
manganese impurities.

Paint brands dry at different rates, due to additives and such.

Layer thickness is just yet another wrench in the works.

One cannot distill such complexity into a limerick, it must be accounted for
the hard way.


A good summary of why it is best to use the simplest medium you can, use that same medium throughout the painting, and paint in layers that are approximately the same thickness, in my opinion.

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Old 04-12-2012, 04:54 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by evan3585
Im saying to myself "keep it simple stupid" but just starting to oil paint in layers today and I think examples seem to help me to explain this whole process better. Im still very new to oil painting.
This helped me.

Would this work for me? Just to make sure I got this right.
When glazing I can use just turpentine for the first layer. 2nd layer with less turp, 3rd layer add a little linseed,4th and so on add more linseed oil to each till the last layer use strait paint.
Simple dumb down terms for me lol. Sorry Im a newbie. Im sure there is different methods but will that work out for me?

Some painters do the following, which might be easier. They mix 3 different versions of their medium. Let's say one is 67% solvent, 33% oil; the 2nd is 50% - 50% mix solvent/oil; the 3rd is 33% solvent, 67% oil. First layer just add some turps, then additional layers start with #1 for a layer (or more), then medium #2, then #3.

Paint straight from the tube would not be fatter than any time you add oil. More oil=fatter. So, in general, paint from the tube is leaner than any of your mediums that contain oil.

Even easier. First layer, add some solvent. All other layers, use one medium (for example your 50%-50% mix). Just make sure you let each layer dry between. If each layer is approximately the same level of "fatness' you should be OK. The longer you let your layers dry in between, the better off you will be.

The above examples will work best if you keep your layer thickness consistent, too.

At least that is my personal interpretation of fat over lean, which obviously is not particularly clear to anyone.

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Last edited by DAK723 : 04-12-2012 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:34 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

When in doubt, make a sample! I had a bunch of paint colors, I wanted to see which dried faster so I could be sure to put the faster drying colors on the earlier layers and the slower drying colors on the final layers.

I made swatches of each and every day I touched them to see which were dry, I wrote next to them how many days they took each. Then I looked at the swatches when I was painting.

It was easy to do, I just used a piece of scrap primed canvas and laid out a bunch of colors on it that I planned to use for my painting. About a week later I knew what order to go about things.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:41 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
A good summary of why it is best to use the simplest medium you can, use that same medium throughout the painting, and paint in layers that are approximately the same thickness, in my opinion.

Don
I do agree with Don on this and Virgil Elliott also does in his book "Traditional Oil Painting", his recommendation is to keep is simple and limit medium usage as much as possible. He doesn't like using solvents for thinning either.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:36 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

While I'm not a conservator, I think I have experimented enough to make a recommendation: I don't think pure turpentine-thinned washes is the best way to start. I think turpentine plus a little oil or stand oil probably is(1 part in 10 may be enough). I have seen too many overthinned paintings. Some are cracked while others will probably come off if the varnish is removed. Even oil grounds can suck up a lot of oil, leaving the paint underbound.
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:24 PM
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Re: Fat over lean?

I seem to have had a post disappear!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by evan3585
Would this work for me? Just to make sure I got this right.
When glazing I can use just turpentine for the first layer. 2nd layer with less turp, 3rd layer add a little linseed,4th and so on add more linseed oil to each till the last layer use strait paint.
Definitely not.
As Don said, any oil added to paint makes it fatter, or more oily.
Your last layer of straight paint is leaner than the previous 3rd and 4th layer.
Once you add oil, your subsequent layers should have at least as much oil added.
(I like Don's "even easier" advice.)

Sid,
Regarding the AMIEN thread you quoted, I queried them as to what they meant.
Here is my question and their reply.
http://www.amien.org/forums/showthre...9031#post19031
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMIEN
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Francis
I'm bumping this thread because it is being used as support at Wet Canvas that solvent makes paint leaner.

I was under the impression that solvent evaporated and left the oil/pigment in the same ratio as it was before solvent was added, and therefore the end result was not a leaner paint film.
I also reference a comment from AMIEN here: (post 14)
http://www.amien.org/forums/showthre...ratio#post9698
Solvents play no role in the "rule of fat over lean." They evaporate. It's the amount of oil that counts. End of story.

But here is another thread where AMIEN states that adding solvent makes paint leaner: (Post 2)
http://www.amien.org/forums/showthre...ean-oil-paints
You can make a fat oil paint leaner by thinning it with a solvent, too -- you can also thin it too much!

I know this is an old thread, but can you please clarify your position on this question?
Does solvent make paint leaner in regard to painting fat over lean?
There seems to be a lot of confusion about this topic.

We think the solvent makes the paint momentarily leaner but as soon as it evaporates out of the oil film it's no longer leaner. Then, the relationship between the fatness of the new layer to the "leaness" of the lower layer is more important.

We also think a lot of artists want to put too fine a point on the whole issue of fat over lean. Keep it in mind as you paint; paint simply when you're using oils; finish the painting in two or three layers -- except if you're into glazing. Even then, keep the glazing simple and expeditious.

Make of that what you will.
Sid, we may never agree about this solvent/leaner thing.
You say:
"a solvent thinned layer acts and behaves like a "lean" paint layer. This is the proper way to think of using a solvent thinned paint layer in practice."
In what ways do you think a solvent thinned layer is like a lean layer?
Do you think it becomes less oily because of the the solvent? Less flexible?
Yes, it should dry faster, mainly because it is thinner, but this wouldn't be enough to equate it with leaner.
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Last edited by Ron Francis : 04-14-2012 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:10 PM
sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: Fat over lean?

Quote:
Do you think it becomes less oily because of the the solvent? Less flexible?
I think I said a lot about this already, but maybe not enough yet
Solvent physically and significantly thins oil paint and thus the paint film that you apply.
Here again is the video of what happens when a solvent thinned layer is painted over a thick paint film that then shrinks and causes the solvent thinned layer to crack (Watch it Amien, pls).
Here is another page by Gamblin saying adding solvent makes paint leaner, adding oil makes it fatter.
Here is a pdf from Gamblin explaining again how adding solvent makes the paint film leaner.

Winsor Newton's chemist Ian Maginnis says it makes paint leaner, here.

Amien thinks it makes it leaner, Here:
Quote:
We think the solvent makes the paint momentarily leaner
momentarily, I guess that means when it matters most, when you are painting with the stuff and it is in the process of drying Fully dried fat oil paint with no solvent in it is effectively "lean" in terms of what matters and that is the flux in the paint film. It is the flux that matters, not necessarily the ratio of oil to pigment. They are all hung up on a silly technical misguided rule of thumb and definition for what fat and lean is, to the exclusion of common sense.

As long as everyone keeps ramming this myopic fat and lean stuff down everyone else's throats, and then they just forget all about drying time, drying rates, expansion/contraction curves for different oils, thickness of paint films, solvent addition, siccatives, resins, alkyds, and all other factors, this confusion will never ever stop.
Don't count on Amien to ever say they made a mistake, they will back out of a corner first. That thread that you revived states precisely the opposite advice to what they posted as the answer to Louis about solvent not making paint leaner. In one thread they said "no it doesn't, end of story" and then in another thread they said "yes it does" followed later by, in essence, "oops". When you put them on the spot they said (paraphrased) "well it does make it lean at first, but then it doesn't, anyway don't worry bout that stuff too much, now go away kid and quit botherin us"
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Last edited by sidbledsoe : 04-14-2012 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:41 AM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Ah, then you're primarily talking about short term drying time. Much depends on how quickly the solvent evaporates from the paint film then. If it evaporates before the paint goes through the bulk of its dimensional changes, then it would have little effect, otherwise it is well worth taking into consideration.
However, I was searching Ralph Mayer for information and found this on solvents:
The artist's handbook of materials and techniques, fourth edition.
Page 161.
Quote:
Thinning: free use of turpentine or its equivalent is a thinner or a dilutent is a necessary part of the process in the majority of oil and oleoresinous painting techniques, and with experience the painter learns to introduce just the right amount to make his manipulations easy and bring the thickness off his paint layers under control without impairing the structural strength and durability of the film. It should be clearly understood that the sole purpose of thinners is manipulative and that none of them have any reactive effects on the paint.
Page 385.
Quote:
The various volatile liquids which are suitable for use as paint and varnish thinners differ from one another only in such properties as rate of evaporation, solvent action, odor, etc. None of them has any binding or film producing qualities, and none has any drying affect on paints and varnishes except as it allows the paint or varnish to be spread in a thinner film, the greater proportion of the oil or resin being therefore exposed to the drying action of the air.

At any rate, flexible over inflexible is a concern over the life of the painting, not just the time when the paint goes through its initial dimensional changes. Fatter layers are more flexible throughout the life of the painting and is an important consideration with movement of a canvas:
Page 170
Quote:
The spontaneous volume changes and movements involved in the drying of oil films are somewhat different in type from the movements which may occur in dried or aged films. It should be remembered that the former actions are temporary, that is, they take place only once, at the time of drying, during a period when the flexibility of all elements of the paint structure is greater and more uniform it will be in the finally dried painting.
The movements which affect the permanence of a dried painting and which are induced by external forces, temperature and humidity fluctuations, and the like, are permanent hazards. The well painted picture is designed to withstand these forces when they occur in average normal degree; when they occur in the extreme severity they may exert their destructive effects at any time during the life of the painting; cracking, peeling, and other such defects are liable to be the result of faulty practice at any time after the various layers of the painting structure have dried and assumed the greater part of their final characteristics.
As a general rule, the defects which a direct result of the application of overpainting while the under painting is not in the ideal stage to receive it, should occur within six months. The choice of materials and methods for building up a structure that will withstand at age and variable external conditions is a more important consideration than the order of painting on newly dried surfaces.

Again, make of this what you will.
Maybe Mayer is as silly as AMIEN.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:38 AM
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Re: Fat over lean?

Ralphy boy is saying the same things I have been saying. I said the solvent doesn't catalyze the polymerization of the oil, but does have a physical thinning effect. That is a good book by Mayer.
I agree with all else he says. He is also not saying that the addition of solvent does absolutely nothing whatsoever and should be of no consideration or consequence in proper painting procedure. I have listed dozens of reliable experts that have the same opinion about thinning paint with solvent, including Amien. I would say ridiculous or even harmful is a better word than silly when the opposite advice is given. When the painting is cracked it won't do any good to complain that the ratio of oil to pigment was the same.
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