Friday, January 9, 2015

Go big or go home

Three at the Beach
48 x 60
This is the largest painting I've attempted to date.  It's been a work in progress for the past several months and has many, many layers.  The photo doesn't show it to its best advantage because it's darned hard to avoid any glare across such a broad expanse of canvas, and, after too much effort, I gave up.  The boy on the left is actually darker than shown.

But enough about camera stuff.  This piece required me to use a medium that I became familiar with in Alex Kanevsky's workshop last year: Liquin.  It's a quick dry medium used to extend paint.  It makes a tough, flexible film and it's what Alex uses to create the multi-layered work that he's famous for.  I don't know if it would be possible to use my usual medium of oil and OMS to create such a large number of layers safely; I'd be worried that the paint would crack.

It was great to be able to apply a layer of paint, and find it dry in one or two days.  That allowed me to stay interested in the painting in a way that would have been difficult if I had to wait for the usual 10 days or more for drying.

The downside of Liquin is its smell.  A bit like rubber cement or some other heady chemical, it did make my head spin if the studio door wasn't open while I worked.  It also destroyed a few brushes along the way as it seems impossible to totally clean it out of the bristles.  Some nice hogs' hair brushes are now decorative sticks thanks to Liquin.

The figures in the painting came from photos that I took at the beach last summer.  I liked the meandering, diffident feel to the poses of the figures on the right juxtaposed with the intensity of the boy on the left.  He seemed to contain a lot of energy in his small body and it was all focused on something at his feet; the water lapping?  A minnow?  The suction of the wet sand?  Everything's interesting when you're young, on summer vacation, and the sunshine is warm on your skin.

Happy painting!


Roberta Murray said...

Wow, beautiful piece. I haven't notice Liquin causing my brushes harm, but I don't use it all that often. And I may not be a discerning about the condition of my brushes either. I'll pay attention.

Ingrid Christensen said...

You're probably just a better cleaner than I am, Roberta. Mine are glued together!

Maria Bennett Hock said...

beautiful painting! thanks for the info about the liquin...I used it for a while but could not get used to the odor...although it does do a good job extending paint and helping with drying time.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Maria!
Drying time is the hardest part about being an oil painter. It almost makes me want to turn to acrylics. Almost.

Susan Williamson said...

Have you tried Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel? I am an oil painting newbie, but think this material has the same working properties without the toxic fumes.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Hi Susan,
I have used the solvent free gel, but the problem with it is that it's 100% fat. Most of the alkyds (like Galkyd - another stinky one) are 40% fat or thereabouts so you can follow the fat over lean rule easily. To lay down fat on fat makes me nervous about the integrity of the paint film.

Having said that, I do like the gel for alla prima painting, though I find I seldom use it. Forgetfulness!

Teri said...

Hi Ingrid - what a challenge to do such a large painting. It came out fantastic!
I just wanted to tell you about something I learned from my art teacher Jane Terzis. (fantastic artist btw) She had us make a medium from 1 part Walnut Alkyd Medium and 4 parts Liquin Original. We were NOT using mineral solvents or turpentine because her experience with those were affecting her health.
We also cleaned our brushes with Walnut Oil by M.Graham&Co. (not the cooking kind) and olive oil soap. If I don't have olive oil soap, I use Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap and I have heard that some painters use Murphy's Oil Soap with good results.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks for the recipe, Teri. It must dry in a jiff.

I use Dr. Brommer's, too: the castile soap. I love that stuff.

Happy painting!

Janna Kumi said...

Hi Ingrid

I was reading your post on liquin. I used to use it, but found it too tough on the body (got a headache!) and that's not good. I too use Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel. If you are concerned about 'fat over lean', have you asked Gamblin about their test results? It seems to me that they would not get a product out there which would end up cracking paint. In the end, I'd strongly suggest you not breathe these nasty fumes emitted by liquin, then we'll have you with us for much longer... :-)

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Janna. I, too, have avoided Liquin since finishing this piece. I'm back to my usual oil/oms mix or straight oil. Life is too short to shorten it further with daily toxic exposure.
About the gel: I don't think it's a bad product; just not suited to multiple layers. It's a great choice for alla prima work.
Many thanks for the comment.


Donna MacDonald said...

Hi Ingrid - I have been meaning to tell you about the air filter that I'm using. I use only Gamsol and thought the toxin level in the air was acceptable. Then my son came home from University for Christmas and was having problems with his asthma (which he had mostly outgrown). Carolyn Anderson had told me about "Rabbit Air" a filtration system that she has. So I bought one and my son hasn't had a problem since. She has recommended it to several students with health concerns.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks for that, Donna!
I'll look into that system. I use Gamsol, too, and thought it was ok, bit the thought of working in indoor pollution is not appealing. That could explain some health issues of late.