Sunday, September 30, 2012

Medium and Marks


Summer Dress
16 x 12
Paint straight out of the tube is usually just a smidge too thick and toothpaste-like to move easily across the canvas.  And that's where the fun and games of oil paint mediums begin.

There is a staggering range of paint-additive possibilities.  Painters can choose from: solvents, oils, alkyds, wax, chalk dust, commercially-made mediums such as Liquin and maroger medium, varnishes, driers, egg white (I read that on a site once) and much more.  

While I tend to keep it simple and use only walnut oil or a 50/50 mixture of oil and mineral spirits, I do, occasionally yearn to achieve a new type of brush mark, so I experiment with other mediums.  In my studio are the nearly-full containers of many such experiments.  

This painting was made using a 50/50 mix of stand oil and mineral spirits.  Stand oil is a traditional medium  made from heat-treating linseed oil.  It flows thick and slow like molasses and creates a shiny, enamel-like surface if used alone.  By cutting it with mineral spirits, it's possible to speed up the brush strokes that you can achieve with this oil, but they are still pretty slow and mannered.  And that's not a bad thing.  

I like the expressive, juicy marks that this painting has.  Brush strokes end differently than with a fast-flowing medium like walnut oil; they are thick at the end, not thin and broken.  Layering is also different as the pressure needed to release the paint from the brush is firmer than with walnut and so it replaces more of the underpainting as it goes on.  There is greater coverage and fewer open, broken marks when working wet-in-wet.  I kept the palette of this piece very limited in order to showcase the marks more than anything else; I was that pleased with them.  

Still, I won't use this medium very often, especially not on large pieces because it slows me down too much.  My hand wants to race like the hare, and stand oil is the tortoise of the paint medium world.  

Happy painting!

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