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Old 08-25-2007, 11:02 AM
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Sketchpad1 Sketchpad1 is offline
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Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

I was reading one of the recent posts on mediums and was thinking that it might be helpful to have a discussion regarding medium recipes and how and when to use them. Based on my experience mediums seems to be the most confusing topic in oil painting. When I started I wanted a better understanding of mediums and did a lot of research on Wet Canvas. Unfortunately, most of these discussions did not get into recipes and how to use these mediums, i.e. glazing, underpainting, etc. So I thought it would be great to start a post discussing your favorite medium recipes and how you use them.

To kick things off, I found the following excellent summary in my Utrecht Resource Guide:

Leanest Basic Painting Medium:
1 Part Linseed Oil + 5 Parts Gum Turpentine

Leaner Basic Painting Medium:
1/2 Part Linseed Oil + 1/2 Part Stand Oil + 5 Parts Gum Turpentine

Lean Basic Painting Medium:
1 Part Stand Oil + 5 Parts Gum Turpentine

All Purpose Lean Painting & Glazing Medium:
1 Part Utrecht Stand Oil + 1 Part Damar Varnish (5 lbs. cut) + 5 Parts Gum Turpentine

Fat Stand Oil Damar Concentrate:
1 Part Stand Oil + 1 Part Damar Varnish + 3 Parts Gum Turpentine

Very Fat Stand Oil Damar Concentrate
2 Parts Utrecht Stand Oil + 1 Part Damar Varnish

Very Fat Medium
1 Part Stand Oil + 1 Part Linseed Oil + 1/4 Part Dorland's Wax

Very Fat Medium
1 Part Stand Oil + 1/5 Part Damar Varnish + 1/4 Part Wax

Old World Glazing Medium
9 Parts Damar Varnish + 9 Parts Turpentine + 4 Parts Stand Oil + 2 Parts Venice Turpentine

Retouching Varnish
5 Parts Damar Varnish + 13 Parts Gum Turpentine

One comment I have is that you can substitute OMS for turpentine in the above if there is no Damar in the recipe, i.e. 1 Part Linseed Oil + 5 parts OMS.

I have used most of the lean mediums listed above and they work great. I really like the All Purpose Lean Painting Medium. Richard Schmid recommended this in one of his videos and it works great for creating transparent darks. I also use OMS/turpentine to thin oil paint. This is perfect to tone the canvas with a wash or for use in the early stages of the painting.

Please feel free to comment on how you would use any of the above or to provide recipes for you own favorite mediums. The more recipes the better.

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Old 08-25-2007, 11:12 AM
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Alex Sunder Alex Sunder is offline
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

OK, heres some recipes i have collected, i´ve found Bill´s medium really handy, easy to make and wondeful for use:

Bill Martin´s Glazing Medium

1 part Linseed Oil (anybody's brand, as long as it is artist quality). This is a fast-drying oil.
1 part Walnut Oil (I use M. Graham's,) This is a slow-drying oil.
1 part Venice Turpentine (This is not "turpentine", in the usual sense of the word, but is the "resin" in this mix.)
2 parts Oil Of Spike (This is the solvent--it is NOT a drying oil such as Linseed .)

or

Lean (5 parts Turpentine, 1 part Venice Turpentine, 1 part Stand Oil)
Medium(2 parts Oil of Spike, 2 parts Venice Turpentine, 1 part Linseed Oil)
Fat (2 parts Oil of Spike, 1 part Venice Turpentine, 2 parts Sun Thickened Linseed Oil)


Ralph Mayer´s

1 part stand oil
1 part damar
5 parts turpentine.

The turpentine can be increased to as much as 7 parts for more fluid underpainting and reduced proportionally in each successive layer as above.


Glossier glaze medium

2 parts sun-thickened or stand oil
2 parts damar
1 part Venice turpentine

dilute with spirit of turpentine.


Slow drying medium - soft blending


1 part stand oil
1 Venice turp
and spirit of turpentine.


Atttributed to Rubens (at least some of his work)
3 parts Venice turpentine
2 parts sun-thickened oil
1 part damar
For the glossy look of the Flemish painters, the use of Venice turpentine is advisable in place of resins that have a greater tendency to darken and crack (amber, mastic, copal, etc.)


Damar & Beeswax

2 parts damar varnish
1 part beeswax
3 parts turpentine

1. With the exception of the turpentine, combine and warm the ingredients over an electric unit, stirring them until they combine completely.
2. Once the ingredients are combined, remove from the heat and slowly stir in the turpentine.
3. Cool the mixture and pour into a bottle.

This combination of resin and wax is excellent for final paint layers. This medium serves to thicken tube oil paints and help produce pleasing impasto effects. It reduces gloss and dries in one half hour.
Proved over many centuries for its permanence and impermeability, beeswax combines well with resins and oils, and reduces some of the high gloss while it thickens the paint. A great aid to paint handling.


From Cennini

2 part beeswax
2 part turps
1 part walnut oil
1/2 parts damar, 1 part damar neering the end.

You could vary it in sooo many ways. If it's too stiff, just add more oil. If it dries too slow, just add more varnish. The best one I tried was with Black Oil. Wooof!!! The film was strong, elastic. I've also tried it with Stand, Cold pressed, and they're all subtly different.


From Cennini Forum

1:1 Stand Oil and Canada Balsam
or 2 parts Stand Oil, 1 part Canada Balsam and a touch of turpentine (careful of delicate underpaint with the addition of solvent).
or 4 parts Black Oil, I part Canada Balsam

---

Thats pretty much of it.

Hope to find more recipes here. This is a great idea Sketchpad!

Alex
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:16 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

I hope you get lots of participation in this thread from the experienced artists because I personally know very little and wish to know more about how others use their mediums. I'll be following this thread closely.
Thanks for posting it.
Cindy
P.s. What Damar? Varnish?
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Last edited by Art_at_43 : 08-25-2007 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 08-25-2007, 12:18 PM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Alex,

Thanks for the excellent post. Also, thanks for adding Ralph Mayer's medium. I had mentioned it in my post, but did not give proper credit to Mr. Mayer.

Quote:
From Cennini

2 part beeswax
2 part turps
1 part walnut oil
1/2 parts damar, 1 part damar neering the end.
This one sounds interesting. I may have to give it a try.

Quote:
P.s. What Damar? Varnish?
Damar is a naturally occuring resin that comes from Indonesian tree sap. It can be bought in crystals and then dissolved with pure gum spirits of turpentine or purchased ready to use. It can be used as a final varnish or as part of a medium. Varnish is a protective film for finished paintings that is usually composed of a resin & solvent. For example a traditional varnish would be 4 Parts Damar (5lb cut) & 1 Part Turpentine. Modern varnishes are made with synthetic resins & solvent and can be bought ready made, i.e. Gamvar, W&N Artist Gloss Varnish, etc. Of course varnish is another topic all together.
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Last edited by Sketchpad1 : 08-25-2007 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:58 PM
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Garland Garland is offline
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Hi eveyone,

This thread is particularly interesting to me as I've been trying my hand with layering and end up with more gloss look than anything else. While visiting a commercial gallery in Spartanburg, SC I came across an old style painting with an attached letter documenting it was from the period of Rembrandt and possibly done by one of his students. What impressed me was the heavy-thick layer of clear substance placed over the pigments mostly in the center of the painting with an appearance than it thinned out to the edges. That painting was a portrait. I've been experimenting with Gamblin's Galkyd painting medium with mixed results, so I'm still in the learning stage. I figure I'm mixing stuff up here.
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Old 08-25-2007, 03:58 PM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Quote:
Alex,Thanks for the excellent post. Also, thanks for adding Ralph Mayer's medium. I had mentioned it in my post, but did not give proper credit to Mr. Mayer.
No problem. This subject is definetly my favorite. I forgot to enter the glossiness of each one. When i have more time, i will edit my last post and enter the data.

Quote:
This one sounds interesting. I may have to give it a try.
Fantastic handling properties. You should definetly try that. It´s somewhat opaque though, like semi-gloss.

I hope more people could share their recipes!

Alex
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Old 08-25-2007, 05:48 PM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

It is so very thoughtful of you, to take the time to organize and post these recipes. Thanks a million. I am getting my old moleskin book out, and writing them down. I have been wanting to try a few different glazes, but was so overwhelmed with other stuff, that I haven't had a chance to research it.

Really appreciate it ! You guys are the best.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:34 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

I'm dragging this one up from the depths again.
When I started painting in school in the early 80's, my instructor told us to mix up some medium: 1/3 Damar, 1/3 Linseed, 1/3 turpentine
this has worked pretty well for me although I have not been painting all these years and have a lot to learn.

I recently started to use some Holbein Fast Drying Medium, and that works pretty well. Probably some dryer in there. Sometimes it sets up too fast in sun/summer conditions so I am probably going back to my standard mix for a while.

I was looking at this archive thread and noticing all the various mixes. A lot more complex than the one I use. What's the advantage in various oils and expensive Venetian turp and Oil of Spike Lavender, etc? Do many artists vary the "fatness" incrementally from start to finish of a painting?

I know this is a simple question(s) with complex answers. Don't mean to open up a Pandora's box. Just looking for a bit more info here. Seems like I'm missing something with my simple approach.
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:47 PM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

I use Venice Turpentine (a balsam--sap of a larch tree) as a resin in my mix. A resin serves no specific use to a painter who used an alla prima approach, painting wet in wet, because he completes the painting while it is all still wet. However, I glaze, and for that purpose, I am always painting a wet application over a dried underpainting. There is often a tendency for the fresh paint/medium to bead up on the dried surface, and the addition of a resin helps to prevent, or reduce that tendency. Venice Turpentine has a tendency to "fuse the edges" between elements in a painting, rather than holding sharp edges, and I prefer that characteristic.

Damar (in the form of "Damar Varnish") is also a resin as is Copal, and Strausburg Turpentine (sp)?.

I use Oil Of Spike Lavender because of several of its properties: It has a slippery consistency in its application, as does the Walnut Oil which is also a main ingredient in my medium. Spike also is a more aggressive solvent than Turpentine, and a MUCH more aggressive solvent than Odorless Mineral Spirits. I also like it because it is a slower drier than Odorless Mineral Spirits, and a LOT slower than Turpentine. It smells very pleasant, like a bar of fresh soap, it is archival, and it is an excellent glazing ingredient in a medium. However, one slight disadvantage is that it is quite expensive. But, a little goes a very long way.

When I glaze, I apply my medium to the surface of my dried underpainting, and then I apply my paint right into this application while it is still wet. I use so very little medium as to be only detected by the slight sheen when glancing a reflected light off the surface.

Every one of the ingredients in my mix serves its own, specific purpose. Primarily, I want a medium that remains open (wet) on my palette, here in Arizona, where things dry extraordinarily fast, yet will dry after being applied to the canvas within a day or two. This medium of mine does exactly that.

I like the durable film strength of the Linseed Oil, the slippery feel, and slow-drying of the Walnut Oil. I like the slipperiness of the Oil Of Spike, the aggressive characteristic, and its slow-drying, as well. The Venice Turpentine (thick as molasses and chewing gum combined) prevents the beading of my fresh medium on the dried underpainting.

There is very little in my recipe that I feel I could do without.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:55 PM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by WFMartin
I use Venice Turpentine (a balsam--sap of a larch tree) as a resin in my mix. A resin serves no specific use to a painter who used an alla prima approach, painting wet in wet, because he completes the painting while it is all still wet. However, I glaze, and for that purpose, I am always painting a wet application over a dried underpainting. There is often a tendency for the fresh paint/medium to bead up on the dried surface, and the addition of a resin helps to prevent, or reduce that tendency. Venice Turpentine has a tendency to "fuse the edges" between elements in a painting, rather than holding sharp edges, and I prefer that characteristic.

Damar (in the form of "Damar Varnish") is also a resin as is Copal, and Strausburg Turpentine (sp)?.

I use Oil Of Spike Lavender because of several of its properties: It has a slippery consistency in its application, as does the Walnut Oil which is also a main ingredient in my medium. Spike also is a more aggressive solvent than Turpentine, and a MUCH more aggressive solvent than Odorless Mineral Spirits. I also like it because it is a slower drier than Odorless Mineral Spirits, and a LOT slower than Turpentine. It smells very pleasant, like a bar of fresh soap, it is archival, and it is an excellent glazing ingredient in a medium. However, one slight disadvantage is that it is quite expensive. But, a little goes a very long way.

When I glaze, I apply my medium to the surface of my dried underpainting, and then I apply my paint right into this application while it is still wet. I use so very little medium as to be only detected by the slight sheen when glancing a reflected light off the surface.

Every one of the ingredients in my mix serves its own, specific purpose. Primarily, I want a medium that remains open (wet) on my palette, here in Arizona, where things dry extraordinarily fast, yet will dry after being applied to the canvas within a day or two. This medium of mine does exactly that.

I like the durable film strength of the Linseed Oil, the slippery feel, and slow-drying of the Walnut Oil. I like the slipperiness of the Oil Of Spike, the aggressive characteristic, and its slow-drying, as well. The Venice Turpentine (thick as molasses and chewing gum combined) prevents the beading of my fresh medium on the dried underpainting.

There is very little in my recipe that I feel I could do without.
Very useful information once again. Thank you Bill.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:31 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

I'm almost afraid to ask this .... ignorant question. What is the meaning of Lean, fat etc? Is it like thin to thick? I have had no formal classes in painting so I'm still learning.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:27 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by phobia
I'm almost afraid to ask this .... ignorant question. What is the meaning of Lean, fat etc? Is it like thin to thick? I have had no formal classes in painting so I'm still learning.

Fat = lots of oil
Lean = least oil (turpentine or mineral spirits or "oil" of spike lavender used)
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:20 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by phobia
I'm almost afraid to ask this .... ignorant question. What is the meaning of Lean, fat etc? Is it like thin to thick? I have had no formal classes in painting so I'm still learning.

There is a Frequently Asked Questions thread at the top of the forum where many fundamentals are covered
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:42 AM
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackdogpaint
Fat = lots of oil
Lean = least oil (turpentine or mineral spirits or "oil" of spike lavender used)

That seems to be "it" in a nutshell.

Fatness or leanness has to do with the oil to solvent ratio--more oil than solvent is a "fat" medium. More solvent than oil is a "lean" medium.

It has very little to do with viscosity (thick or thin). For example, I could use Stand Oil which is very "thick" (viscous), and dilute it with 5 parts of Turpentine, which would make it about the consistency of straight, Linseed Oil, but it would be an extraordinarily lean medium. So, while this diluted Stand Oil Medium may be the same consistency (viscosity) as the straight, Linseed Oil, it is much, much more lean than pure, Linseed Oil.

This concept actually is very handy, when you wish to work with lean and fat mediums, but want to maintain the same, approximate viscosity throughout.

Fat mediums (high oil to solvent ratio) tend to cause the painted film to flex as it dries slowly, so it is not appropriate to apply a lean medium (high solvent to oil ratio) over such a slow-drying, flexing layer of paint, because doing so can lead to the cracking of the upper, more brittle, faster-drying, lean layer.

Also, consider the idea that this very appropriate concept of painting fat over lean is not violated by painting fat over fat, or lean over lean. At no time are you placing a more brittle layer over a more flexible layer.

I always create my mediums by mixing some oil and some solvent together. Using a drying oil, alone (the "fattest" of all mediums), can cause very slow drying of the paint, and using a solvent, alone (the "leanest" of all mediums), can cause the paint to become underbound, a condition in which the oil binder of the paint is literally "washed off" the particles of pigment, leaving it to chalk off when touched, even after it has dried.

I enjoy these questions, and I hope that I have offered some bit of sound advice to you regarding this concept.
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Last edited by WFMartin : 09-07-2011 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:23 PM
blackdogpaint blackdogpaint is offline
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Re: Oil Paint Mediums - Recipes

How's that for completeness and clarity? Thanks again Bill.
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