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  • Alternatives to oiling out sunken oil paintApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-07-25 16:30:58 ... Most recent comment 2017-07-27 22:48:04
    Oil Paint


    I am working on some portraits where the accuracy of value is critical and for areas that have sunken in from previous sessions I have been oiling out by rubbing thin layers of linseed oil (I've tried raw, stand, refined, 50/50 linseed and Gamsol OMS) on the surface. I have read mixed reviews of putting an isolated layer of oil into the paint film structure, for fear of disrupting fat over lean, cracking, darkening, etc. It seems retouch varnish has similar concerns.

    Is this oiling out (or painting into a couch) a problematic practice, and if so, how can the color be restored in a more structural way while working? 

    Are there best practices to oiling out? Oil, technique ,etc.

    Grazie Mille

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    When applying medium or thinned oil to the dry painting, it's best to use only the minimum effective amount necessary to achieve pictorial objectives. One of the main reasons artists oil out paintings is to restore the wet appearance of colors, which makes it easier to duplicate mixtures in a subsequent session. A different painting medium might reduce the amount of color change from wet to dry, and eliminate at least some of the need to oil out. Traditional plant resin varnishes, particularly ones that yield a "candy" gloss, tend to yield good results in this regard but may not prove stable and durable with age. Some alkyd-based mediums can help preserve the wet-mixed appearance of colors, without the drawbacks of materials like damar and mastic.

    Other reasons one might oil out a dry picture are to facilitate suave brush movement without "break" in the strokes, and to meld layers seamlessly together. Fully loading the brush can promote smoother movement on a dry surface (to a degree), but most artists who routinely oil out between layers will probably not be satisfied without first lubricating and reducing the absorbency of the dry surface.

    When oiling out, the surface should not feel extremely wet- use only enough to allow a well-loaded brush to glide across the surface. It only takes a small amount of oil to facilitate subtle blending and other manipulations of the still-wet paint. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-25 20:58:49
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you! 

    So it sounds like my concerns for introducing a thin oil layer  -oiling out- are nothing to worry about? 

    But I like the suggestion to actively avoid the sunken in areas by adding more medium to the paint to begin with, especially the darks which seem to sink in more and more quickly loose their 'wet' appearance.

    Do we know of historical examples or painters who practiced oiling out either with or without detriment? 


    2017-07-26 15:19:39
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Da Vinci is known to have broadly manipulated paint with his fingers in creating the "sfumato" effect. ​It seems to me that this approach has something in common with "oiling out".

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-07-27 22:48:04

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