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Old 05-08-2005, 03:28 AM
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Maroger Medium

Hello all,
I have seen many threads in the forum concerning the Maroger Medium.
If anyone has any questions about the medium, I'd be happy to answer them, as I have a lot of experience in this field. Thanks very much, and Happy Painting!
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Old 05-08-2005, 05:13 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Hi, it is not SP products tho is it.?

Any idea how your's compares.?

I use it - i like it - but i don't know what the heck i am doing. So if you would like to write a little blurb on it's qualities & how best to use it, i for one would be a willing listener.

Although i love the way you can pile the paint on without making mud - it does not seem to lend itself too well to blending. Not that i want to blend much these days, but i have been planning a candlelight painting & wondering how to go about painting the light of the candle in light of this.

I also use amber, which has a similar drawback.
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Old 05-08-2005, 01:50 PM
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Re: Maroger Medium

I use maroger's medium, also known as megilp. Once I started using it, I'm hooked on the stuff.

There are a couple of methods for using it ...

1. Mix a little bit into your paint nut. More than 10%-20% is too much, causing the paint on the canvas to become tacky too soon.

2. Rub some maroger thinly directly onto the canvas area to be painted, and paint into it; this technique is referred to as a 'couch'. I use my finger and thumb to apply it and rub it around, then my thumb to remove excess. Also, I only do an area that can be worked within about 20 minutes - I certainly don't try to cover a large canvas section all at once.

I have tried both steps at the same time, but that doesn't seem to work as well.

If you're using the SP maroger that you mix up, here's how I do it:
I make a small amount (about a tablespoon each of black oil and double mastic), add 3 drops water and 2 drops oil of clove; I mix it up and then tube it. The oil of clove (it takes only a wee bit) slows the tackiness, giving you more time for blending. For some reason, the addition of water keeps the maroger fresher. This information is available on the SP Cennini forum, but it is buried across older posts and hard to find. I've read that keeping the tube in the freezer when not in use extends maroger further, but I have had no problems by not doing that.

I plan to try pre-tubed maroger from Old Masters Maroger. The info on their site is worth reading, if only for the sake of knowing what's out there:
http://www.oldmastersmaroger.com/

Hope this helps.
Cheers!
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Old 05-08-2005, 02:04 PM
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Re: Maroger Medium

I note that Maroger's book is available to read online at:
http://carolallisonart.com/SecretFormulaIndex.html

Dave
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Old 05-09-2005, 04:18 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

As far as using Maroger goes, here's the scoop:

Maroger is the most versatile medium I have come across. It allows you to do almost anything, and this is because it is thixotropic, meaning that it congeals in the air, but becomes fluid again when you move it around. That property alone creates so many possibilities. It can be used to glaze because of its fluidity while in motion, but is also perfect for thick impasto because it sets up immediately and keeps a brushstroke from running or otherwise changing after it has been set down.

You can use Maroger by putting enough medium in each pigment to thin it down to the consistency of mayonaise. It's very convenient to paint when you are not worried about your brush sticking to the white pile, and sliding through the umber pile. While painting, you can add Maroger to certain passages where thinner paint is needed for the effect of translucency or transparency. After a couple of hours of painting, the medium will begin to "set up," or develop a slight pull to it, which allows for very subtle transitions from one color to another. For example, if you are painting in the chiaroscuro style, after painting in the shadows and light a beautiful "half-tone" transition between can be created simply by dragging the light slightly into the shadow, using the pull of the Maroger to guid your brush delicately. It is something that has to be experienced, since it is so particular and different from what other mediums allow.

As for SP's Maroger, I am not certain about the quality of their materials (i.e. Do they use filtered cold-pressed oil? etc.), but in general I am not a fan of the seperate jars method. Maroger straight out of the tube is far more convenient and consistent.

Quick note about Megylp: Most mediums called Megylp these days (Gamblin for one) ar actually polymer plastic imitations of the real Megylp. Megylp was the original name of Maroger, but the fact that Gamblin uses the word Maroger in small print on their label borders on false-advertising.
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Old 05-09-2005, 04:27 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

As for the candle effect:
The properties I mentioned (concerning the "pull" Maroger medium develops as it starts to set up) make Maroger ideal for this blended look you mention. The only difference is that it will take much less effort to create this look than actually blending it out. With one delicate brushstroke against the sublte resistence of the medium, such beautiful effects are effortlessly evinced.

In toto, Maroger is something that can be used as a TOOL. Medium is not meant to be some additive just for the sake of thinning paint. It is to be a tool used by the painter to facilitate techinique, which in turn expands the painter's horisons.
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Old 05-09-2005, 12:27 PM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Michael:

Silly Me!
I just noticed you ARE old master's maroger.
Actually, I have several questions about your product, but it's probably better if I simply contact the company directly. I'm not sure that this forum is the place to discuss pros and cons of your product or compare your product to similar ones available from others.

I agree that Maroger's Medium (Megylp) is very versatile. It's my favorite medium to use.

cheers!
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Old 05-09-2005, 08:32 PM
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Re: Maroger Medium

I began this thread for the sake of education and discussion, so certainly any issue would be a good one to talk about here. But I appreciate the consideration!
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:25 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmasters
Hello all,
I have seen many threads in the forum concerning the Maroger Medium.
If anyone has any questions about the medium, I'd be happy to answer them, as I have a lot of experience in this field. Thanks very much, and Happy Painting!

I have used the Old Masters' Maroger medium that "oldmasters" is selling. It works very nicely. I am not currently using it for a few reasons. Perhaps "oldmaster" can allay some of my concerns:

1. It smells horrible, and I work indoors. Not much to be done about that, I guess.

2. I have read reports that it will eventually darken, crack, or both.

3. It contains lead.

By the way, I have also read that Maroger was wrong when he conjectured that the old masters used megilp.

I am using Gamblin Neo Megilp, an alkyd-based substitute. It is not as silky as the Old Masters brand stuff, but it gets the job done.


[Added later] I did a quick google. Your competitor Gamblin has text on their web site saying it will darken and crack. The proprietor of that company posts here too. Perhaps you two could discuss the issue.

I also found this link, in which someone who purports to have been a restorer at the Met. Museum makes the same claim: http://www.1art.com/wwwart/messages/726.html
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Last edited by jdadson : 05-10-2005 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:29 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

If you list your concerns, I'd be happy to answer any questions.
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Old 05-10-2005, 02:08 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmasters
If you list your concerns, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

You caught me while I was still editing. See the message now.

Thanks,
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:03 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Hi Jive,

1. The smell - some people dislike the smell, others actually love the smell. It actually reminds me of a quote from my friend David Leffel, "The nose knows." Good Maroger should smell "good" compared with poorer brands (I hate to list them here).

3. Let me skip to #3 and leave the meat for last. Lead content - Maroger does in fact contain lead (approx. 2%). Of course this is negligable if being comapred to lead-white paint (flake, cremnitz, etc.) which is for all intents and purposes 100% lead. To my mind the lead topic has been a bit overblown. Of course we recommend caution while using and keeping the medium out of reach of children, and all of that. However, lead is a very large particle and therefore behaves a certain way. It is too heavy to rise up in fumes so there is little danger of breathing it (unless you are in the habit of sanding your paintings and thus pulverising them). Also, the particle is larger than a skin pore and therefore is not readily absorbed by the skin unless through a cut or cavity (such as the mouth). Of course lead in gasoline which is burned and inserted into the environment gave way to unleaded gasoline with good reason, and since indoor house paint with lead was chipping off the walls and being eaten by children, banning lead for that purpose was not a bad idea either. But lead in a controlled environment such as used in painting is probably less dangerous than cadmium colors and plenty of other things that have just been ignored and not given such PR by the press. Titian used tons of lead in his studio (in powder form, no doubt) and he lived to be 99.

2. The darkenning and cracking issue. This comes up often and is interesting indeed. The fact is that Maroger is a tricky medium to make...it is not like heating up some Campbells soup. It requires expertise and experience to make good Maroger. However, there have been hundreds of articles written with half-cocked versions of the recipe and many of these have proliferated. Thus, the unwary have gotten a hold of this "Old Masters Recipe" in a *******ized form and have had terrible results. This is not the fault of the original medium, but rather of the irresponsible makers. It is akin to a 14 year-old trying to fly a plane only to crash into the hangar, and then saying that airplanes don't work and flight by a machine is impossible. A lot of what people say about Maroger is taken from Meyer's Artist Handbook - more on this in a minute.

Maroger himself was a restorer and head of the technical labs at the Louvre. Pinning the word of one restorer against another does little to prove anything. But experience can prove something. Take for instance, my good friend and mentor David A Leffel (of Art Students League fame). He made his own Maroger for 30 years. I own a painting which he made in 1962 or so, which was painted with his Maroger. In fact, he even VARNISHED the painting with Maroger, because this was before he started using Mastic Varnish. The painting today (almost 45 years later) looks just as good as the day he painted it. No darkenning, no cracks, etc. And it is David who taught me to make the medium. I am a painter myself and I would not dream of using anything I didn't trust. And getting back to Meyer, this is a man who wrote a book on THOUSANDS of art materials (canvases, paints, varnishes, mediums, etc.). How much experience could he have with any single one of these materials? I trust the time proven paintings of Leffel, Sherrie McGraw, Maroger's paintings himself, etc. before I pay attention to what Meyer wrote based on hearsay, or the failures of irresponsible medium makers who made a poor product with poor materials and no knowledge of the chemistry involved in making Maroger.

This brings up a very important issue of conservation, but I will make a seperate posting to give the eyes some relief.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:05 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

I apologize that one of my words was ex-ed out with asterices, but it was not an explative at all. The word was "b a s t a r d i z e d", which of course had no offensive implication.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:25 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

Thank you for the courteous reply. I am very familiar with the work of David Leffel and Sherrie MaGraw. They are indeed marvelous.

Concerning Maroger's own work, I have read that his own paintings have darkened badly. One cannot compare the scholarship of his time with what is known to today's restorers.

Considering that I will almost certainly be, uh, posthumous 50 years from today, perhaps I shouldn't worry about it too much. On the one hand, I am heartened by the fact that it is now known with some certainty that Rembrandt pretty much stuck to plain linseed oil, with an occasional walnut, and (very rarely), an egg thrown into the mix. But on the other hand, the megilp is awfully nice to work with. Choices, choices.

Since I posted the questions above, I found a long thread in another BB on the subject. There are ardent advocates on both sides: http://forum.portraitartist.com/prin...6&page=1&pp=10
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:32 AM
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Re: Maroger Medium

More on the Conservation Issue.

This really must be told a bit historically to depict the full picture, because the main topic at hand is that artists today are quite divorced from their materials and not intimately involved with them in many cases.

One must think back to the Old Master days and the Apprentice System, back before the tin tube was invented. In those days, the only people on earth who had any access at all to art materials were professional artists and their students. It was the job of the students to grind the paints, prepare the mediums, stretch the canvas, etc. Each of these tasks was done in a manner that had been proven to work by the artists/chemists of centuries past (interestingly enough, the science of chemistry started only for the sake of using it as it pertained to art, and this by the monks in the middle ages). Under a system of this sort, it is easily seen that each artist had intimate knowledge of the materials used and it is no wonder their work has lasted 500+ years.

However, the invention of the tin tube eventually led to what we have now: a society where anyone off the street can walk into an art store and buy everything necessary to start painting--without any prior knowledge or training. Since this is how most painters start out today, it is understandable that there is a great deal of trepidation and fear when an artist is asked to choose materials wisely without having any real knowledge on which to base any decisions. Most artists turn to books, which are of course filled with nothing but contradictions; one restorer says this, another says that, etc. This fills the artist with an incomplete picture, and with little broken bits of information.

For instance, the same artist who is worried about Maroger cracking will paint on a store-bought, gesso-primed, cotton canvas which is absolutely guaranteed to crack. Or they will trust a $5 jar of synthetic plastic medium from a very large and unaccountable company who does not even list the ingredients on the bottle and which has not withstood the test of time. In other words, small pieces of information from unreliable sources are blown out of propotion and applied in a quite meaningless fashion.

The solution to this problem is for aritsts to take the responsibility for their own understanding of their materials, and to use the Old Masters whose works have lasted well as an example.

Here is another small point concerning restorers. Take this into account:

ANY RESTORER OR CONSERVATOR WOULD TELL YOU TO ONLY PAINT ON PANEL AND NEVER ON CANVAS.

This is because canvas, of course, eventually falls apart and must be relined in order to be saved (i.e. The Night Watch and hundreds if not thousands of other examples). So as artists we must have some perspective. Are we really all going to stop working on canvas because of this? No, because we use the materials which best facilitate our technique and vision. Artists are artists, and restorers are restorers. It is not exactly our job to make their lives easier for them. It is our job to learn to paint and strive for understanding. Understanding, above all things, sets us free from fear in all things, be it art materials, the art of painting, or life itself.
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