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  • Atypical oils in oil paintingApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-07-12 16:12:41 ... Most recent comment 2017-07-14 16:35:36
    Oil Paint

    What is the opinion on the usage of non-traditional drying oils? I have read about the usage of candlenut, perilla or tung oil in some art works, but there's not much I could find in terms of conservation issues regarding these.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Simply put, I would caution against this experimentation in one’s artwork. In general, these oils either create weak films, dry very slowly, or yellow too strongly, usually more than one at the same time. Ralph Mayer does discuss a number of these and enumerates their shortcomings. I sometimes find Mayer’s pronouncements a bit too conservative and sometimes slightly out of date but agree with him on these issues. Finally, why take the chances when alkali refined linseed oil is so cheap and available. If you do decide to experiment, do simple paintouts which would not be missed if they failed and please report your results back to us here.

    Brian Baade
    2017-07-12 16:25:17
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Here are a couple of references to two of the oils mentioned:

    "Tung oil appears to dry in about two days in moist air, but the resulting film is always wrinkled or cracked and uneven. In dry air about fourteen to twenty-one days are required and a smooth, coherent film is obtained. In either case it takes twenty-one to thirty days for the full gain in weight (12.9 to 13.3 per cent). From this it appears that tung oil is really a slow-drying oil, and that the rapid rate of drying in moist air is not 'drying' in the usual sense (i.e. oxidation and polymerization), but a colloidal change in which moisture acts as a coagulant... It is as unsaturated as linseed oil, but has considerably more tendency to gelatinize or separate in the heterogeneous phase, so that films produced are frequently dull or mat. It also yellows badly and may cause skin diseases."

    "(Perilla Oil) dries quickly but gives a dried film which is somewhat marred by irregular markings and spots."

    - "Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia" by R.J. Gettens and G.L. Stout

    "Chinese Wood Oil (tung oil) cannot be employed despite varius favorable qualities, because it forms an untransparent film when it dries, and may also cause skin diseases. Furthermore, it yellows badly."

    -"The Materials of the Artist and their Use in Painting" by Max Doerner

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-12 19:46:03
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks for the answers. I became interested in other oils when I read that some of them dry faster without the use of siccatives.

    As far as testing goes: what sort of a test setup would be the best? I was thinking of putting the samples outside, which would expose them to everything from extreme temperature and humidity changes to UV raditation. At the same time, I thought it would be good to use some sort of shielding to protect them from rain. However, with the UV-filtering effect of glass, I'm not sure what substitute would be best.

    Any comments/suggestions for a good experimental setup?

    2017-07-13 18:08:40
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    What is the specific objective? Is the purpose of the experiment to confirm reports of defects in paint films containing these oils? I wouldn't go into this with the realistic hope of yielding paint suitable for permanent art. Anyway, if the oil used as the paint vehicle is a hardware grade product, it might not be of standardized quality, and because of this, it might not be possible to duplicate results if you did get one sample that looked promising. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-13 19:33:19
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    The point is to see how atypical materials will compare with traditional materials - yellowing, fading, cracking, peeling, and so on. The reasoning behind exposing them to extreme conditions is that if they are really inferior from a conservation perspective, then their failure should become more apparent when stored in an environment that is much more harsh than an average interior.

    The oil is cosmetic grade, cold pressed, refined, with a certified range of specific fatty acid content.

    2017-07-14 16:35:36

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