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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    7

    Default oil paints that dry dull

    Hi!

    I've been quite frustrated over time when I've returned to the canvas I'm working on to find that an area that had looked dark has dried without luster and looks much lighter.

    I paint on linen canvas sized with "rabbit skin" glue, grounded with lead white and then a Neapolitan dark brown mixture of oil pigments, but this has happened with other grounds too.

    I've heard that this means that the color is "sinking" into the canvas. Sometimes oiling it out with some straight linseed oil (if that's the medium I'm using) or a mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits (Grumtine or Best Klean) will bring back the shine and hence the darkness/transparency, but not always. Even retouch varnish doesn't always help in the worst areas.

    I've noticed that if I use more medium (linseed oil in my current painting), the dark colors dry shinier, hence darker.

    Also, is there any way to get my lights (pigments mixed with Cremnitz or Flake w/ Mica) to the same luster as my dark, transparent colors?

    Thanks.
    Deborah Feller, MFA
    NYC
    Last edited by Deborah Feller, MFA; 04-01-2007 at 07:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Chagrin Falls, OH
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    1,362

    Default Matte oil paints

    Quote Originally Posted by Deborah Feller, MFA View Post
    Hi!

    I've been quite frustrated over time when I've returned to the canvas I'm working on to find that an area that had looked dark has dried without luster and looks much lighter.

    I paint on linen canvas sized with "rabbit skin" glue, grounded with lead white and then a Neapolitan dark brown mixture of oil pigments, but this has happened with other grounds too.

    I've heard that this means that the color is "sinking" into the canvas. Sometimes oiling it out with some straight linseed oil (if that's the medium I'm using) or a mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits (Grumtine or Best Klean) will bring back the shine and hence the darkness/transparency, but not always. Even retouch varnish doesn't always help in the worst areas.

    I've noticed that if I use more medium (linseed oil in my current painting), the dark colors dry shinier, hence darker.

    Also, is there any way to get my lights (pigments mixed with Cremnitz or Flake w/ Mica) to the same luster as my dark, transparent colors?

    Thanks.
    Deborah Feller, MFA
    NYC
    Deborah,

    Robert L. Feller is a quite well known conservation scientist with an interest in varnishes and lightfastness. Do you know him?

    The problem you are experiencing seems to be more common these days, as oil paints have changed consideratbly from previous years. Consumer/artist demand has forced manufacturers to make commercial lines of oil paints that all have about the same buttery texture and all dry at about the same rate. These paints therefore have more additives that oil paints from 25 years ago. The additives may be the source of the problem, and it is particularly noticable in dark colors.

    But there is another potential problem: artists' techniques. Many of today's artists like the look of matte oil paints, and do not like to varnish the paintings (or don't know how to do it properly). The result of this can be annoying, if not a disaster: the blooming, or efflorescence of the additives out to the surface of the paints.

    Oil painting has technical rules; following them ought to solve all of your difficulties. If an artist strictly follows the traditional rule of "fat over lean," where oiler paint is applied over less oily paint, the problem you're having might not occur. I recommend that oil painters use a bit of thinner in the first layer, much less thinner in the second layer, and a painting medium in the third layer. In this final layer, mistakes should be scraped away and fresh paint re-applied with a medium.

    If you like the matte appearance, varnish the painting (after it's completely dry) with a gloss varnish and then matte the varnish with an application of a matte varnish or a beeswax paste. You will get the matte look, and also prevent the efflorescence.

    I have seen this work for some artists, though they seem not to like to have to go through the extra steps. As the contemporary English musical artist once said, "You can't always get what you want." (I bet you know the name of that artist!)
    The AMIEN Staff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Going for the glow

    Thanks, Mark, for your speedy reply.

    I've come across Robert L. Feller's name in a book recently but before that I'd never heard of him.

    I actually prefer the gloss on my paintings because it makes the darkers deeper. I will keep in mind what you say about fat over lean which of course I am well aware of.

    I've always been nervous about varnishing my finished paintings having read directions and worried that I would screw up things. Plus I rush then to the framers once they are touch dry and I know they need at least 6 mos drying time before varnishing.

    It's been a while since I've looked, but I suspent your book had some good directions for varnishing. What do you recommend now for varnishing oil paintings?

    Thanks.

    Oh, yes. Rolling Stones on the song!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Chagrin Falls, OH
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    Default Varnishing

    Quote Originally Posted by Deborah Feller, MFA View Post
    Thanks, Mark, for your speedy reply.

    I've come across Robert L. Feller's name in a book recently but before that I'd never heard of him.

    I actually prefer the gloss on my paintings because it makes the darkers deeper. I will keep in mind what you say about fat over lean which of course I am well aware of.

    I've always been nervous about varnishing my finished paintings having read directions and worried that I would screw up things. Plus I rush then to the framers once they are touch dry and I know they need at least 6 mos drying time before varnishing.

    It's been a while since I've looked, but I suspent your book had some good directions for varnishing. What do you recommend now for varnishing oil paintings?

    Thanks.

    Oh, yes. Rolling Stones on the song!
    Deborah.

    The new edition of my book does indeed contain directions for varnishing, and recommendations for the types of varnishes to use on oil paintings. You can use the acrylic solution varnishes, a ketone resin varnish, or a styrene resin varnish.

    The procedure for varnishing is not that hard to learn to do properly, though it does require a bit of practice. For some reason, a lot of contemporary artists have forgotten how to do it.

    Please don't rush your paintings to the framers without at least putting on a bit of a retouch varnish to protect the surfaces. A retouch varnish is just a diluted regular varnish, on the order of 1 part varnish to 4 or 5 parts of its diluent; it can be applied to a surfaced-dried oil painting of normal thickness without much harm -- and then you have to remember to apply the final varnish when the painting is completely dry in six months to a year.
    The AMIEN Staff

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    173

    Default

    Deborah
    If you like all done well, then you have to use the best paints too. Also consider using Copal or Amber, but it will require months to master how to use it properly. If you use cheap paints nothing will works well, by the way.
    Sinking mostly occurs with Burnt Umber (and like) of cheap paints. Later on you can get further surprise from that pints too.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Chagrin Falls, OH
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    Default Copal and Amber

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel_OB View Post
    Deborah
    If you like all done well, then you have to use the best paints too. Also consider using Copal or Amber, but it will require months to master how to use it properly. If you use cheap paints nothing will works well, by the way.
    Sinking mostly occurs with Burnt Umber (and like) of cheap paints. Later on you can get further surprise from that pints too.
    Daniel_OB,

    As you know, we can not support the recommendation to use the natural resins, amber and copal.
    The AMIEN Staff

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by markg View Post
    Deborah.

    The new edition of my book does indeed contain directions for varnishing, and recommendations for the types of varnishes to use on oil paintings. You can use the acrylic solution varnishes, a ketone resin varnish, or a styrene resin varnish.

    The procedure for varnishing is not that hard to learn to do properly, though it does require a bit of practice. For some reason, a lot of contemporary artists have forgotten how to do it.

    Please don't rush your paintings to the framers without at least putting on a bit of a retouch varnish to protect the surfaces. A retouch varnish is just a diluted regular varnish, on the order of 1 part varnish to 4 or 5 parts of its diluent; it can be applied to a surfaced-dried oil painting of normal thickness without much harm -- and then you have to remember to apply the final varnish when the painting is completely dry in six months to a year.

    Hi Mark, Deborah and Daniel

    Just a quick question to Mark here,

    I recently had to finish a painting fast for entry to a prize and wanted to coat it with some retouch varnish. However the last coat of paint had only been dry for about 12 hours. Nevertheless, it did feel totally dry-- after a dry, warm night assisted by central heating and a regular lamp left on facing it (not too close) for many hours. I paint thinly and use a commercial brand of oil paint made with cold-pressed linseed oil (so presumably fast-drying) and rarely have to wait long for my paint to dry.

    My question is: is there a minimum drying time required before retouch-varnishing, or is it simply a matter of judgement? I realize there is no guarantee with anything and I'm willing to take a bit of a risk here and there--but try to avoid doing anything clearly inadvisable.

    Jenny
    Last edited by JennyK; 09-29-2008 at 07:29 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    173

    Default

    Before retouch varnish is applied the surface of the paints has to be dry to touch (dry only at the surface is enough). It take a day up to a week (in average) depend of paint, kind of oil, and amount of oil in the paint.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Chagrin Falls, OH
    Posts
    1,362

    Default Drying time for oil paints before retouch varnishing

    Quote Originally Posted by JennyK View Post
    Hi Mark, Deborah and Daniel

    Just a quick question to Mark here,

    I recently had to finish a painting fast for entry to a prize and wanted to coat it with some retouch varnish. However the last coat of paint had only been dry for about 12 hours. Nevertheless, it did feel totally dry-- after a dry, warm night assisted by central heating and a regular lamp left on facing it (not too close) for many hours. I paint thinly and use a commercial brand of oil paint made with cold-pressed linseed oil (so presumably fast-drying) and rarely have to wait long for my paint to dry.

    My question is: is there a minimum drying time required before retouch-varnishing, or is it simply a matter of judgment? I realize there is no guarantee with anything and I'm willing to take a bit of a risk here and there--but try to avoid doing anything clearly inadvisable.

    Jenny
    Jenny (and Daniel_OB),

    Dry to the touch is good enough on a thin paint film. Likewise, apply a well-thinned retouch varnish.

    Then, and this is a big deal: you have to remember to put on the final varnish in about six months or a year.
    The AMIEN Staff

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by markg View Post
    Jenny (and Daniel_OB),

    Dry to the touch is good enough on a thin paint film. Likewise, apply a well-thinned retouch varnish.

    Then, and this is a big deal: you have to remember to put on the final varnish in about six months or a year.
    Thanks Mark. That's good to know,

    Jenny

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