Beginning The Grove August 4, 2023 13:02
I've been spending a lot of time experimenting, but after all that, I've decided that what I like painting most are trees, skies, and water. Not necessarily as traditional landscapes but as subjects in themselves. My most recent painting, The Old One, really showed me how much better I paint with that sort of subject and also gave me plenty to think about in terms of experimentation with texture and color. So I started the next tree painting by painting over the gesso with Michael Harding's Transparent Oxide Red. I think this is the most wonderful transparent red iron oxide I have come across. I hope it will give a nice glow to my painting.
I've been adding Michael Harding oil paints to my stash for a while now. I love the rich colors but even more I love their squishy quality. They are so much easier for me to paint with. I think the only paint I've found that's similar in squish is Blockx, and that's just too expensive and slow drying due to the poppy seed oil. If I had a large studio, I wouldn't mind the drying time because I could keep five paintings in rotation like I used to. But my place is tiny and I don't anticipate having either more room or a separate studio any time soon. So instead, I will use up all the Williamsburg, M. Graham, and Winsor Newton paints I have and gradually switch over entirely to Michael Harding.
I've also got a ton of Princeton Select brushes in my Blick cart that I hope to purchase in a couple of weeks when I get my royalty payment. I went through my oil brushes the other day and tossed everything that was splayed, had hardened paint under the ferrule, or was just trashed due to my negligence. That meant about 3/4s of my brushes. I noticed that my Princeton Select brushes have stood the test of time really well. I also like the Bristlon brushes I got recently, but I haven't had them long enough to tell how well they will wear, so Princeton Select it is. I have also seen artists I admire using them.
The Sun and Oil Painting II April 28, 2022 04:39Using light to dry and brighten oil paint
Back to oil painting April 28, 2021 17:00
I've been thinking about doing oil painting again. I've missed it, especially the ability to blend and to glaze easily. I love working with watercolor on the watercolor ground, but it limits what I can do because it lifts so easily.
OTOH, oil paints take a while to dry. I used to deal with that problem when I had a separate studio by having several paintings going at once, like five. There would always be something ready to work on each day, and it helped me learn how to paint faster.
So this morning, I pulled out my oil painting carts and cleaned off all the tubes, which had gotten quite dusty, and the brushes, which were thick with cat hair (miss you, Blackie!) and dust. I used packing tape to easily clean the brushes and sorted through which ones seemed redeemable and which weren't. I also got rid of some that I knew I would not ever use, like the fan brushes and some grainers. I chose the cleanest ones to work with and put the brushes that had gotten stiff from old oil to soak in some citrus solvent. This is the only time I ever use solvent.
Since I'd forgotten a lot of what I knew when I last used my oils, I decided to use the walnut alkyd. This does speed up drying, and I remembered using it a lot in the past. But I forgot that it gave me a headache. I still have that headache 6 hours after finishing painting. So lesson remembered, and I will throw that stuff out.
I do usually paint oil only, no solvent, and typically have used walnut oil, although I've finished some paintings with a layer of sun-thickened poppy oil instead of varnish. It looks nice, doesn't yellow, is easy, and has no solvents. I've always wanted to try making my own paints with poppyseed oil. Nostalgia for a world I never knew, I guess. But I do own a few tubes of Blockx oil paint, which is made with poppyseed oil instead of linseed oil or walnut oil.
At any rate, I began working on a painting and quickly got frustrated, mainly because I forgot to oil in before starting to paint. Oh well. Another wonderful thing about oil paint is how easy it is to wipe off. I did that three times before I got anything that I thought was worth working further on. It's pretty terrible, but it's a start.
My apartment is a loft, so there isn't a lot of room to store wet oil paintings, but I thought to put them on top of the light fixtures I use for my mandrakes with a little fan blowing on them. The fixtures get warm but not hot, and this is out of the way. I can definitely put four paintings on the fixtures if I want to keep a good rotation of dried paintings going. Just not sure if I will enjoy the smell of the drying oil. It's not toxic or anything. I just don't like the scent. But at least now I not only can have all the windows open but I also bought an air purifier for a different reason, and that should help too.
After I got done, I broke out another canvas and started looking around in my cart to see what I had stored in there, and I came across mediums I'd bought in the past and not used. One of them is Siccatif de Courtrai. This is an 19th-century medium that contains lead and manganese as paint driers. I got spooked by lead in the past, in particular because in the past I often resorted to using my fingertips to blend edges of paint, and I know lead can be absorbed through the skin. So I never used the stuff.
But now I thought it would really help me to give it a try, since it is alleged to dry walnut or poppy-based paint in 8-12 hours without the wrinkling it might cause in the presence of linseed oil. If I could get a painting to dry overnight, that would be great.
I have a ton of walnut oil on hand--I bought a gallon a while ago--but I also have some poppyseed oil. So I'm going to try oiling out with that plus one drop of the siccatif. It's also recommended that one drop be added to each glob of paint the size of a quarter.
AND I ordered some gel finger cots, which I can use instead of my bare fingertips if I can't resist doing that.
I also see Tad Spurgeon has a new edition of his vastly wonderful book on oil painting, and that's on my list now too. I've got an older edition but would enjoy seeing what he's come up with since then. Looking forward to making stuff.