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November 16th, 2006 #1
Some notes on oil painting materials
You can get by with four colors (mentioned elsewhere on this forum). Black (or Payne's Grey), white (titanium covers best), yellow ochre, and Venetian Red. (Venetian Red is warmer than Indian Red). These were the colors of the ancients and were the mainstay of the old masters. You can make any basic color you need from these. These are very good for getting flesh colors. All other colors are eye candy and should be added as you gain experience and master these four.
My attachment shows four high quality pigs bristle filbert oil painting brushes at the top, a sable oil painter's filbert next, a large synthetic watercolor wash brush (useful for a lot of things) and a ratty old watercolor sable for blending. In addition, I use high quality Kolinsky sable watercolor brushes for fine work - #4 and #1. I'm told good artificial sables do almost as well and are much less expensive too.
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November 16th, 2006 #2
I suggest getting buttery paint, such as Rembrandt. Winsor&Newton and Grumbacher are too stiff.
November 16th, 2006 #3
MEDIUM AND SOLVENT
Painting medium is used to make the paint go on better. A good one is GRAHAM'S WALNUT/ALKYD painting medium, shown in the middle of the picture. You won't need alcohol, forget it!
Some of you can go in together and bring a SILICOIL BRUSH WASHING POT and fill it with some ODORLESS MINERAL SPIRIT. Gamblin's GAMSOL is the best. The two brush washing tanks on the right in the picture are similar to Silicoil's tank, but not quite as good.
November 16th, 2006 #4
SUPPORTS (What you paint on)
In Austin, I painted on a piece of FROSTED MYLAR taped to foamcore board. It's great for studies and sketches, is as thin as paper, easy to travel with, and very permanent. Good all around stuff.
I also paint on ABS 1/16" thick panels. ABS is a plastic. Buy it at a plastics supplier in a white sheet. You score/cut it with a razorblade. Sand the shiny smooth surface with 220,320, 400 wet-or-dry sandpaper and you have the best painting panel in the world. Indestructible.
November 16th, 2006 #5
Oil paint is not messy. 20th century modernist painters were messy.
Bring a roll of SCOT RAGS. If you're a cheapskate like I am, cut the sheets into four parts.
November 16th, 2006 #6
I made a picture mistake on the last post. It should have been this.
November 16th, 2006 #7
After growing up being told wood palettes were old fashioned, (oh, those dear dead days...) I eventually drifted into naturally using one. They are very practical for many reasons I'll speak about at the workshop.
Get one unfinished, sand and stain it, rub a few coats of shellac on the front and back. Sand between coats. This is about as hard as craftsmanship gets for artists! The shellac is not soluable in odorless mineral spirit, so your finish is safe.
Your palette can be the small size! Just like a Wacom Tablet, you don't need a large one to do great things.
Be sure your thumb hole is large enough and beveled to suit you, depending on whether you're right or left handed.
November 16th, 2006 #8Registered User
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wow, thanks for all this info, William, it will prove invaluable to the attendees and everyone here on conceptart.org.
i recall that steve asael used to tell us that he didnt like acrylic medium because it was "like painting on a tire". he had worries about its archival qualities, and that the suppleness of the base would crack the paint over the years.
The mylar sheets are flexible; how do you handle this problem? i like the idea of using space age materials as a base for archival art. do you encounter any chemical interactions between the oil paint, solvents and plastic?
thanks for taking the time to answer. im looking forward to your Tour of the Legion of Honor...
November 16th, 2006 #9
November 16th, 2006 #10
Oil paint is like painting with butter.
Acrylic is like painting with toothpaste.
Oil holds more pigment than acrylic medium does, so there is more intensity too. I also think it cleans up easier.
I have not used sheet Mylar for gallery paintings. If I did, I'd mount it on a solid backing like gatorfoam board.
Oil paint sticks wonderfully well to ABS. ABS is microscopically porous and the paint bites in and stays. No chemical problems. No problems with turps and ABS. Oils and ABS love each other. You do not need to prime your ABS before painting on it. If the painting doesn't work, you can sand the dry paint off. It takes a lot of sanding, but it's a very economical use of art materials.
A super solvent like acetone or Zylene will soften and eventually damage ABS, but one doesn't paint with those things.
November 17th, 2006 #11
November 17th, 2006 #12Registered User
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Im sorry, i meant acrylic gesso... my bad. you still answered my question though, thanks!
Originally Posted by William Whitaker
November 17th, 2006 #13Registered User
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also, could you perhaps show us a pic of how you hold your pallet? I never realized how you were supposed to hold one till i saw carl doing it, so maybe someone else might be wondering too... it would explain why you put your weight where you do as well....
November 17th, 2006 #14
MORE ON PALETTES AND HOW TO HOLD A PALETTE
Hold your palette so the big part, where you hold and mix your paint, is resting on your forearm. Poking through my collection of photos, I don't have a real clear shot of my holding a palette. Sorry!
First photo below shows my palette resting on my left forearm (I'm right handed). A little metal cup holding painting medium (in this case Graham's Walnut/Alkyd medium) is clipped to the upper part of the palette. I have room left over in my left hand to hold extra brushes and a mahlstick.. I rest the end of the mahlstick on the edge of the canvas and rest (and steady) my painting hand on the length of the stick. This keeps my hand out of the wet paint! I apologize that my subject doesn't look like a space alien.
Second photo, more of the same.
November 17th, 2006 #15
I advocate painting on a toned ground, a neutral cool tone making it easier to get glowing flesh colors fast. For more moody effects, try lay in several colors in an abstract pattern and work complimentary colors over them, letting the undertones influence the final effect.
Here I tone a white support with a thin mix of a neutral color (Raw Umber+ultramarine blue, or my current favorite, Mars Black.) I thin it way down with turps or mineral spirits, add some Alkyd resin or other painting medium to make it stick better and dry faster, brush or wipe it on, and wipe the tone back to a light midtone value. It works best if the tone has a few days to dry before doing your painting on it.
Finally, I'm attaching a 1 1/2 hour head study I did as a demo for a group of high school art teachers last week. This shows the effect of color over a toned ground (Mars black, very thin). This is also a good example of how I start a painting.
November 17th, 2006 #16
for those of you who are interested in my non-space alien model (and I'm sure one of you must be) here is a recent 12x9" painting of her on ABS panel. If you live in Santa Fe, you can see it at the Nedra Matteucci Gallery on Paseo de Peralta.
November 17th, 2006 #17
Thanks a lot William! I have just started oilpainting, and I cant wait for the tour (or the workshop for that matter!)
Of course, Ive encounterde a few problems, mailny that I went out and bought 20 paints (mainly Rembrants, but got some GamblinWindsor Newton, Sennelier and Holbein too, just too see what I prefered) I find that the Rembrnats oil separates from the
pigment. Is this a problem?
Thsi is a list of what I got:
Cadmium Lemon Yellow
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Medium
Permanent Madder Light
I feel as if im trying to rune before learning how to crawl. Should I exclude a number of these? I was aiming to get a warm, neutral and cool of each color.
Also, I tried a wodden palate, but when mixing/picking up colors witht he brush, I found that it really tore down on the bristles. I did not however sand and seal the palate first, except with some stand oil.
Anyways, I went and bought a large white plastic pallet, and a wodden one covered with white laminate. Will I be laughed out of the room with these?
The brushes I use ( or try at least) are Princeton 5200 Bs, mainly brights, and Princeton 4000B.
As a painting medium we are told to mix 2 parts turpenoid, one part stand oil and one part Damar Varnish.
Hopefully this can be of help to someone else too.
With great respect
[url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden
This would be my Pleine Air blog
November 17th, 2006 #18Originally Posted by timpaatkins
Actually, this is a sign of a better quality paint Tim. I'll tell you why at the workshop. Remind me!
PAINTS YOU HAVE:
Looks like you are ready for anything! All the various brands are just fine. You can loosen up the stiffer ones with painting medium.
The stand oil/damar medium is very much 1950's abstract expressionism - good for fast, thick and loose, not so good for contemporary concept work. If you can't find the Graham Walnut/Alkyd medium, then buy some alkyd resin, (GALKYD or LIQUIN). Mix your alkyd resin half-and-half with some SUN THICKENED OIL. Go to some trouble to find a fairly small bottle to put this in - you won't need very much of it at the workshop and it is best not to mix too much at one time. You can add a bit of turpentine or mineral spirit to the mix at the workshop if you need to. Sometimes you don't need to.
I suggest you sand the paint off your wood palette, make a stain out of some of your Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna (about half-and-half) add some alkyd resin to it, and water it down with turpentine or mineral spirit. Use this to stain your palette - wipe it on, then wipe it back to taste. Let it dry two or three days, then buy a small can of SHELLAC at a home center (Home Depot or somesuch), dip a wad of paper towel in the shellac and wipe it on your palette quickly - front and back. Let dry for an hour and then lightly sand and rub on two or three more coats. Give it a final careful light sanding, and you're done!
If you can afford it, buy at least one hog's bristle filbert, maybe a #2.
I will never laugh at you or anybody else who's trying their best. There is a great deal to learn and there is no shame in that. Be thankful that you will only get better as you get older, since you will get older regardless!
November 17th, 2006 #19
November 18th, 2006 #20Registered User
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About ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic resin,) my own experience is a cautionary tale. I first heard about using the surface for oils about a year ago. Thought it could be nice not having to size or prime a surface for oils. I found a large sheet at a local sign supply warehouse (up in Montreal at the time) which I sanded well and cut up into small pieces. I painted on some sample colors for testing; some straight out of the tube, others wixed with different mediums I use. It took forever for the oils to harden on the surface, well over a month. During that time the paint wasn't sticking at all. It could be wiped off with a rag or fingernail very easily. Even now after the paint's cured it can still be scratched off; although, not as easily.
I'm certain what I got was true ABS, but there are different varieties. It's a composite of those three materials and how they're mixed apparantly makes a big difference in their usefulness. For those of you considering it, I'd advise testing it out first.
There are places now assembling panels for artists using ABS, and (although I haven't tried them yet) I hear good things about them. You might be able to get some free samples as well.
or contact Doug Higden at
Also, you might be interested in the Solid Ground panels from Hudson Highland which are made with polyvinyl resins.
I've never tried oils on frosted mylar, but I've used vinyl paint and inks. I may have to test that out as well.
November 18th, 2006 #21
Thank you for these notes, sir! I greatly respect your work. Thanks for the inspiration.
What are the best ateliers and or schools, in your opinion, for figurative drawing, painting, and sculpture?
November 18th, 2006 #22
Interesting reading, even for those of us who won't be at the workshop, thanks for posting these.
November 19th, 2006 #23
Thanks heaps for this information, I'm gonna buy some oil painting materials with my birthday money coming soon. I was trying to figure out what to buy when I found this thread.
November 19th, 2006 #24
November 19th, 2006 #25
ha I feel like such a slob..
I paint on primed paper (watercolour blocks to be precise)
I use 7 colors, find I can get any where I need to be with them
I have 4 brushes (boar brstle fliberts, 2 sizes)
I have total respect for you folks who do it the right way
but I hope that no one is scared away by the massive quantity of arcane detail
because even with my quick and dirty half assedd methods ..oil paint is my joy. And that is wher every one who wades into the sea of oils... needs to get to
To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.
November 19th, 2006 #26
Thanks for this information.
Is Linseed oil ok as a painting medium? I used it alot in high school.
November 19th, 2006 #27
Follow David Kassan around! He is a first rate young painter (what I refer to as a real Samurai) with a great future and lots of good information and instruction to give us. I’m very pleased to see he’s on this forum. His paintings are simply wonderful – cutting edge. He's loaded with talent and experience, and like most people with superb art gifts, he's a nice guy - secure and easy in his abilty.
David, I use Mylar for a lot of my preliminary studies because you can stack so much of it in such a small space and it’s exceedingly permanent and doesn’t need a priming coat of any kind. I haven’t figured out how to mount it on a support for framed wall art yet, so I restrict it to studies.
Chaosrocks,Sounds to me like you are awfully smart! Very wise to limit your palette and add to it only as you feel the need. Primed paper is a fine support. In fact my first oil was painted on unprimed paper fifty-seven years ago, and it’s still in great shape, still around in spite of the dire warnings in books. I recommend Frosted Mylar as an easy material, but you can also put a pad of tracing paper to good use for tests, color charts and certain studies. Oil paint won’t soak through tracing paper and you can stack a great many dried sheets and not take up much space. I talk a lot about saving space, because a few stretched canvases add up to a big stack in a hurry.
I’m happy to read you’re not overloaded with brushes. You can add to them as you need them. I probably have spent a million dollars on brushes over the years…. Whoever said painting would be inexpensive?
I hope I don’t scare anyone away by my confusing detailed posts either. I honestly think oil painting is simpler than acrylic painting.
Linseed oil is fine, but it dries slowly and your strokes will tend to run sometimes. Sunthickened Linseed oil is better because it dries faster, and feels just a bit better under the brush. Mediums that have a bit of resin in them, (I recommend alkyd or mastic resin) will help your paint strokes to stay put and not slide south as you paint.
November 19th, 2006 #28
I think I can safely say that wherever you may eventually teach will be a university or college art program worth attending! Currently, almost none of them are worth the costs. What heartens me most is that fabulous talents of your generation are coming forth to revolutionize the art world – the world of art training. Your lines are gorgeous and your inspiration and contributions are wonderful.
I’m not up on current schools, but of course the Art Center comes to mind, as does the Academy of Art University. I’m not the best person to ask about schools. I’ve been away from that field too long. I’m marginally involved with the Academy of Art, but nothing else.
November 19th, 2006 #29
Thanks a lot! Those are highly encouraging words coming from you, and I really appreciate them! I regret that I won't be able to attend the MB Workshop and see your great demos, but hopefully I can have the privilege of attending the Florence Workshop.
Thanks for the advice about schools, I agree that places like CA are really making art education so much better - I really wish this place had been around when I was an undergraduate student.
Once again, thank you for the advice and comments!
November 19th, 2006 #30
Thanks for the great info Mr. Whitaker. Can't wait for the tour and the workshop.
Now, where in Utah would you recommend one studies art? I would prefer the Salt Lake Valley (or Provo) as if I need to re-locate I would just as soon move to California. Even more preferably from a teacher that rhythms with mhitaker. (Kidding! ) And I've already tried to get Rebecca to re-locate as well.
Last edited by Idiot Apathy; November 20th, 2006 at 12:43 AM.