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Old 04-28-2012, 09:48 AM
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how to get oil paint to "glow"

Hi all,

I think it's the first time I post in this particular forum, but I have been hanging out the Landscapes and Plein air forums for years.

Lately, I have found my paintings lack a certain "depth" which I attribute, at least partly, to the opacity of colours. I read recently that one should avoid using too much white to maintain as much transparency as possible, but I am finding that very challenging! How do you get light colours without white? Do you use a lot of cad yellow? I've also started using a blending/glazing medium which I really enjoy. I am normally a very direct painter since I spend years painting outdoors alla prima, but now I feel like I want to give my paintings more depth and use colours that are more luminous. Yet I don't really want to have to lay in 40 glazes to achieve this or I will never finish a painting .

What do you do to keep your colours fresh and "glowing"? Do you avoid using white as much as you can? Do you glaze, layer and use painting mediums? Any other ideas?
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:38 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

Hello! There are two things you could try here. First, are you using plain Titanium White? If so try using a "Mixing" white or Titanium-Zinc white. Zinc white is more transparent, softer and is better for tinting out colors than plain titanium. But, don't use a straight pure zinc white, get the mixed color. Many oil painters swear by the lead whites, and they are beautiful. As long as you are cautious with them and make sure to wear gloves or use a barrier cream you should be fine. If you want to give those a try they lend a very different look from titanium/zinc. They are usually sold as "Flake White" or "Cremnitz White". One of my favorites is the "Flemish White" made by Blue Ridge Oils. http://blueridgeartist.com/

Secondly it could be that your oil painting is just sinking into the acrylic gesso primer too much. One of the problems with the modern acrylic primer is that it is too absorbent. Oil painters really should work on a surface that is primed with oil primer which prevents the oil from soaking in and losing its depth. Experiment and try painting on a panel or canvas with an oil based primer and see if it doesn't make a difference. Oil primed surfaces are easily obtained from most online art supply retailers like Blick or Jerry's. Good luck and hope this helps!

Jason
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:47 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

interesting posts.
I'd use iridescent paint or iridescent medium for oil paint..
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:12 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

Hi Chantal, There may be a number of ways to interpret "glow." It would be useful for you to post an example or two of paintings that you feel really glow! The feeling of light - glowing nicely is almost always related to how you are managing values in your painting - and to some healthy extent the chroma of your colors. Saturating our somewhat darker values can give them the illusion of glow - since electrically charged paints don't seem to have been invented yet, we are limited to the value range of paint on our surface! ( which is a lot less than, say, a neon sign or a tv quietly glowing green-blue in someone's "man-cave."!! - But both can be painted nicely if we manage value and chroma carefully).

-Kevin
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:29 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

I have a painting that has a house in the middle ground. The windows glow like real life. I used lemon yellow, in three or four very thin glazes, and made sure the surrounding cabin area is dark enough to be a good contrast and make the windows pop.
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:01 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

maybe try a new medium. i use the alla prima method myself because of the quickness of completing a painting. i have experimented with lots of the gamblin mediums. i have a bottle of "neo megilp" by gambin paints, which gives colors a very vibrant effect, defiantly something to try at least once. it is a slow drying medium, but what makes it different is that it "sets up" after about 2 hours, making a gel. u can even pick up a 1 oz sample from most art supply stores for free. heres a pic of the painting...

heres gamblins literature...
"NEO MEGILP
NEO MEGILP Oil Painting Medium is a soft, silky gel. Neo Megilp maintains the body of the paint, and produces a luminous Turner-like atmosphere, while suspending and supporting paint in a soft gel. And it is made from contemporary materials so it will not turn yellow or dark as it did in the 17th and 18th centuries. Neo Megilp can also replace Maroger Medium for artists who love the working properties but are now concerned about Maroger's poor aging qualities."

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Old 04-28-2012, 02:50 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

Although I paint with WMO's, but maybe that helps something or at least a couple of tips ...

I mix in any color always some white *- usually titanium as well as some zinc white!

Also i mix in each color one of my mediums CREAMY - either "CREAMY" and/or "CREAMYcobra".
Then I give a lot of white middle "CREAMY +" & if I want to have more of that or 'buttery' then I gave extra/more CobraPaste.
And mix gently to *colors this WhiteMelange OR to do this when i paint AllaPrima & PleinAir with a brush and paint on the canvas ...

Lately, when I only work in the studio/artelier, I am using GOLD-Acrylic as underpainting -> then with oil glazes.
Seems wonderful and shines through and lights up or/and glow...!


HERE MY RECIPES:
=======================
• "CREAMY" - into a vessel per unit:
7 Artisan Linseed Oil, 4 Lukas Stand Oil, 1.5-2 Artisan Thinner, 1-1.5 Artisan FastDrying, 3-5 Artisan PaintingMedium, 1 Artisan ImpastoGel
===>>> PastosLiquid * [FirstLayer or for 'dilution']

• "CREAMYcobra" - also per unit of vessel:
14 Artisan Linseed Oil, 8 Lukas Stand Oil, 2-3 Artisan Thinner, 2-3 Artisan FastDrying , 6-10 Artisan PaintingMedium, 2-3 Artisan ImpastoGel & 2-4 CobraPaste
===>>> PastosButter * [medium-fast drying]

• "CREAMY +" - units per vessel:
20 Artisan PaintingMedium, 10 Artisan Stand Oil, 7 Lukas Stand Oil, 10 CobraPaste, 3 Artisan FastDrying, 5 Artisan ImpastoGel
===>>> PastosHoneyWax * [upper layer, or 'just' AllaPrima & dries quickly - SuperB for PleinAir]


TIP on Talens Cobra paste:
--------------------------------
"Cobra is a colorless Malpaste medium that you can mix in all proportions with oil paint. The paste has the same consistency as the Cobra oil paints and can in principle be Described as a water-oil color without pigment."



HERE YOU CAN SEE AGAIN THE RECIPES - but unfortunately only in German:
http://www.decinergy.at/cms/EINBLICKE.html
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:43 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

Thanks for all the great responses everyone!

Jason: yes, I am using Titanium white. Will get some mixing white and try it. I know lead white is more transparent, but with kids running around my studio, I am hesitant to try it... but I might be convinced. Also, an oil primer makes total sense! I do find my paints to be sinking in too much. I often used gesso boards because I like the slick surface, but the gesso may be absorbing too much paint. Will have to look into oil primers.

Kevin, you are indeed correct in saying that "glow" can be interpreted in many ways. I am referring, I think, to a certain transparency that one gets from reds and greens sometimes. I like Marc Delassio's work quite a bit (he is a plein air painter so I can relate). He rubs red oxide on his gessoed panels and then lets a bit show through. A great effect! But here is an example of what I really mean: http://jenniferpazienza.com/catalog.pdf. Jennifer is a local artist and I hope to take a workshop with her this summer. We also happen to work at the same university and she's promised me a studio tour soon! Again, I am a landscape/plein air artist so this is close to how I'd like to paint.

lumiere: Bonjour! I was in your corner of the world this time last year. Working on a streetscape of Aix-en-Provence right now! I agree, iridescent paints help. Lately I am favoring colours I never would have used in the past: prussian blue, viridian green, windsor blue... these are highly transparent and though at first they seem unnatural, if used correctly, they can be very efficient ways of making colours sing. Of course if I were using them correctly and succeeding then I wouldn't be here asking this question!

Mickey: yes, I think the contrast between darks and lights, especially transluscent lights, is a bit part of it. I have seen wonderful plein air paintings (like those by Micheal Richardson, over in the plein air forum) that just glow because he uses a lot of dull areas, and then just a few highlights that just pop! So I think there are various ways of achieving the feeling of light in oil paintings and my hope is that I'll get a few ideas from all of you kind folks!

Keith: Great painting! I will look into that medium. Hopefully someone carries it locally. Maybe you're right, maybe I need to experiment with mediums.

Decinergy: I used to paint with WMO but have gone back to regular oils. I just prefer the texture of real oils to wmo. Your technique intrigues me, however. Are you saying that you start with an acrylic underpainting, then start laying in oil glazes? Do you cover the entire acrylic underpainting or leave some showing through?
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Last edited by acadianartist : 04-28-2012 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:26 PM
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Thumbs up Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

THANK you very nice!

I am primarily a PleinAir & AllaPrima * - Painter and then/there I use my "CREAMY" mediums ...

In my Studio or Atelier - but this is new since some pictures:
GOLD-Acrylic Underpainting -> yes, the whole image is covered with gold, the picture is already 'prepared' or finished, ie light and dark shading.
Thereafter glazing or layering with oil.
Here I will share some parts free so that the GOLD can complet shine - but mostly i cover the complete picture ['painted over';-)].

I'm hung up, I either do a different medium from me - LIQUID-TRANSPARENT or LIQUID-WHITE - i cover all a very thin 'oil layer' of it and then paint it thin OR I paint directly onto the acrylic with oil and / or thinner ...
-> but this is sometimes or i need one of the mediums to thin the paint. In which LIQUID-WHITE give the color it's little white ...


I hope this could help !? ;-)


WHAT I FORGOT TO SAY: i think you can also(?) use the Talens CobraPaste for normal oils ... OR you look by Talens for the same medium but for regular oils ... !!!?!!!?!!!
AND MAKE MY MEDIUMS (from regular mediums) TOO OR YOUR OWN ... !?!?!?!
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:01 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

With all due respect to those answering your question, I don't think you need any different materials. Looking over the paintings that you have given as examples, you can try to achieve "glow" working with what you have. Nor do these paintings seem to have been done using glazing - at least primarily. As Kevin mentioned, it is using a carefully developed value pattern - as well as using chromatic contrast that seems to be creating the glow you like.

I see certain things repeated in a number of the paintings you link to. There are a lot of white areas or a strong light-valued area that very gradually get darker. Within that transition are very light values and very soft edges. Creating those soft edges and the very gradual value transitions seem to be what makes these paintings glow. There is a lot of blending of edges which seems most likely done wet into wet. This does not mean the entire painting was done in one sitting, but I really don't see any evidence of glazing. Not to say it wasn't glazed, but the point I am making is that can be done (probably easier) without glazing.

Another thing I noticed in a couple paintings is the use of very strong saturated color contrasting with neutralized or grayed colors. This contrast will make the color seem more intense.

That's the way I see it - could be wrong, of course, but most of the time it isn't the materials - just technique!

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Old 04-28-2012, 05:25 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

I agree with DAK723 above, although I do think experimenting a bit with different whites can be helpful (lead white is very different from titanium)

But overall, it depends much more on successful perception of color, and the ability to mix them. I have tried lots of painting mediums, and I have found that they rarely help. Just use a medium that you are comfortable with (I thin a little with plain oil, others use oil-turpentine mixes), and work on getting comfortable with color mixing, values, and edges. Remember: the glow you see is an illusion created with colors, just like the sky and the clouds in the paintings are illusions. People frequently think that there must be some sort of "depth" or "deep glow" in the medium used, and a friend of mine once asked if Rembrandt used gold leaf in his paint, but no; it is all about putting down the right combination of colors, values and edges (by edges I mean that a blurred edge can look soft, and sometimes give the impression of glow).
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:36 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

> I read recently that one should avoid using too much white to maintain as much transparency as possible, but I am finding that very challenging! How do you get light colours without white?


For me, avoiding the use of white always leaves my canvas looking like
a watercolor. I like to use white liberally, then glaze over it for a
glowing effect. The light passes through the top paint film, hits the
light color beneath, reflects off it, travels once more through the
glaze, then to the viewer's eye. This creates a nice glow for anyone
viewing the painting in-person, but IMO, the effect seems to be
reletively lost on cameras.

Another, quite different technique is to employ, maybe even
exagerate reflected light. Hmm, I am wondering if I read that
simulating lens flare is also a technique for creating a glow?
My mind is starting to go......AND IT'S TOO LITTLE TO BE OUT BY ITSELF!
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:21 PM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

I think the one most important thing is keeping the paint you lay down pure.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:14 AM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

And don't forget that paintings you see on your computerscreen actually glow, because your screen emits light. Paint in real life doesn't do that, of course. Comparing your real life paintings to computer screen paintings is an unfair comparison.

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Old 04-29-2012, 07:26 AM
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Re: how to get oil paint to "glow"

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
With all due respect to those answering your question, I don't think you need any different materials. Looking over the paintings that you have given as examples, you can try to achieve "glow" working with what you have. Nor do these paintings seem to have been done using glazing - at least primarily. As Kevin mentioned, it is using a carefully developed value pattern - as well as using chromatic contrast that seems to be creating the glow you like.

I see certain things repeated in a number of the paintings you link to. There are a lot of white areas or a strong light-valued area that very gradually get darker. Within that transition are very light values and very soft edges. Creating those soft edges and the very gradual value transitions seem to be what makes these paintings glow. There is a lot of blending of edges which seems most likely done wet into wet. This does not mean the entire painting was done in one sitting, but I really don't see any evidence of glazing. Not to say it wasn't glazed, but the point I am making is that can be done (probably easier) without glazing.

Another thing I noticed in a couple paintings is the use of very strong saturated color contrasting with neutralized or grayed colors. This contrast will make the color seem more intense.

That's the way I see it - could be wrong, of course, but most of the time it isn't the materials - just technique!

Don

I think you're right Don... I don't think Jennifer uses glazes, or if she does, very sparsely, and Marc certainly doesn't (who has time for plein air work?). And yes, Jennifer is very big on blending edges. Another thing I like about both those artists (and I am referring to Marc's landscapes here more than his portraits) is the freshness and spontaneity of the work. Don't get me wrong, those who built up their art using countless glazes and working in a very planned, methodical way, have an amazing talent. But it is the spirit and energy of a painting that grab me more than the technique. I guess what I am trying to say is that I would like my paintings to have more of that energy and vigour without loosing all the spontaneity of plein air work. That said, I do think the right medium can help. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
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