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Paints and Painting Mediums March 26, 2023 11:05

Mandrake work in progress

Recently I decided to switch to a different paint brand. I've got a ton of Williamsburg paints, but a year or so ago, I coveted a tube of Michael Harding Scarlet Lake and bought it for myself as a treat. Well, I loved it. And it was not only the color I loved, but the paint consistency--smooshy without it leaking oil all over. It was just so easy to manipulate, especially compared to the Williamsburg paints I have. They are wonderful and come in a jillion colors, but for me they are a bit stiff. I've always had to add things to them to suit me, usually some walnut oil.

Then I discovered Siccatif de Courtrai, which i've written about. This does affect the consistency slightly because it's based on (real) turpentine. Even though you add just only a couple drops per blob of paint on your palette, it helps make the paint be a little more spreadable. It still wasn't enough to make it as spreadable as I would like, but a couple years ago I tried oiling in or oiling out--applying a very thin layer of oil on dry paint, then wiping it off so only a whisper of oil is left. This made it much easier for me to paint some details. I had no idea how much it could extend drying time.

I still had the problem of never having a brush that was stiff enough to move the paint around but not so stiff it would leave tracks. Sheesh.

In February, I came into a little money thanks to a crypto gift, and I used $200 of it to buy a bunch of Michael Harding paints. They have completely changed how I paint.

Because yes, they are smooshy, for the most part (except the titanium), and so they really suit how I want to paint. And the colors are drenched. Gorgeous! Yes, they are more expensive than Williamsburg, but they are totally worth it for me.

At the same time, I found some brushes, quite cheap, that I like--Bristlon Silver. I never usually use rounds, but I bought some to do details. They are great for that. They keep their points but aren't so stiff that they feel like a broom. They work great with the Harding paints and I know I will get more of them. I especially want to add some filberts now, as all my filberts are in ragged shape.

I started a new painting and after doing the drawing, I started painting without remembering to oil in first. Because of the consistency of the Harding paint, I found that I did not need to. Wow!

I also found that the paint had dried the next day. I was shocked. I checked and found that none of the pigments I had used were fast driers. I thought it might be a one-off, some kind of accident. But it wasn't. This has been the case day after day. Using just the Siccatif de Courtrai and no oiling in or added oil, the  Harding paint is very spreadable in use and still dries the next day. 

This is life-changing in terms of my painting. And it comes after trying a number of different mediums in an effort to get away from using the Siccatif, since it has turpentine in it and my place is tiny now and has only two windows instead of eight. I need to have the fan on and both windows open when I paint (and for hours afterward) to ensure there is no buildup of turpentine fumes. I actually like the smell of the real thing, unlike the absolute formaldehyde-ridden crap that I've purchased from reputable art suppliers. But I know it's toxic and it does irritate my lungs. As for other solvents, no need to go there. 

In terms of mediums, I tried sun-thickened poppy oil I made years ago (it's really thick now), poppy oil with driers, and heat-treated walnut oil, and none of them really improved drying time at all compared with what would be the case with the untreated oils. I really dislike the smell of oxidizing linseed oil, so I don't consider that an option in medium form, although as a binder in my paints, it doesn't bother me. 

I still have a couple more mediums to try (for instance, I bought some cobalt to add to oil), but now I have the possibility of not having to use mediums at all, just paint straight from the tube. As soon as I finish this painting, I will give that a try. 

The Sun and Oil Painting II April 28, 2022 04:39

Using light to dry and brighten oil paint

The Sun and Oil Painting April 18, 2022 16:16

Many times I've read that exposing oil paintings to sunlight (in limited amounts) helps to brighten colors as well as helping them dry faster. The windows in my place point east and north, so I don't get a lot of direct sunlight, but it does slant in in the morning. I finished a recently sold painting with sun-thickened poppy oil (<--). Last time I did this, it took more than a week for the thin coating of poppy oil to dry. This time I decided to try using the sun. I exposed the painting to direct sunlight, propping it in an open window during the morning when direct sun shone on it. This has made the poppy oil coating almost dry in only two days. One more day should do it. Pretty cool!

Now that I've tried this, I'm going to use it to encourage faster drying in future paintings. I usually use walnut oil as a medium (if anything), but I would like to use poppy oil and to adopt more poppy-oil based paints, like Blockx. Outside of wishing to have as little yellowing as possible of my paintings, I have spiritual associations with the poppy. Still, even though I made sun-thickened poppy seed oil several years ago, I have not used it as a medium due to fears about its slow drying. In fact, instead I've used a historical lead/manganese drier in the form of siccatif de Courtrai, applying one tiny drop in each blob of paint on my palette. This really helps make the paint dry faster, but since I've been painting on stretched canvas instead of on panels or boards, I'm taking a risk with respect to possible cracking down the road. It would be great if I could get similar results simply from exposing paint to sunlight. Won't work in winter, but it should for the rest of the year. So I'll give it a try and will report back. 

I know I haven't been posting much, but I have been hellishly busy with the nft project I created (which will begin to be auctioned this week), with final edits on The Magic of the Sword of Moses, and with the proposal for my third book, which I am presently researching and writing. Yow!