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  • The role of oxygen in polymer formation of oil paintApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-08-06 08:08:18 ... Most recent comment 2017-08-06 12:04:35
    Paint Additives Oil Paint Paint Mediums

    ​I have over some years been able to extend the life of oil paint on the palette and in small storage containers by the use of (Mark Carder's) Slow Dry Medium, in combination with the exclusion of air (oxygen). Mixed stock color is useable for two years and premixed values for two months in airtight glass jars.

    If I were to place a wet oil painting in an oxygen rich tent (storage bag) would I be able to accelerate drying to the point I could varnish earlier than the recommended six months?

    I were to place a wet painting and/or a wet palette in a carbon dioxide or argon rich tent would I be able to postpone the formation of a drying skin, thereby extending the open time of the paint and canvas?

    Thanks Denis

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    My understanding of the Carder medium is that it leverages the powerful antioxidant property of eugenol in essential oil of clove to inhibit drying. Eugenol is more powerful in this respect than preservatives like tocopherols, which are used to prevent rancidification of fats through the same mechanism. I suspect the Carder formula exceeds preservative-level concentrations that would be found in edible fats, though I don't think most clove oil is standardized for eugenol content.

    Providing a high-oxygen environment for a painting executed with large amounts of clove might optimize any autoxidation that was still possible, but in a closed environment, the essential oil would be much slower to leave the film. Maybe exposure to a current of moving air to chase off the essential oil as it evaporates would be more effective in restoring the ability of the film to dry. I'm sure an inert gas environment would retard drying.

    A few thoughts on this proposal:

    -Heavy manipulation of the drying rate of oil paint is risky.

    -Creating a high-oxygen environment can create a fire hazard, and (just guessing here) may affect the support material.

    -If oil paint in a jar with some air space hasn't formed a skin in two years, I would imagine oxidation has been virtually arrested.

    -Preserving batch-mixed oil colors is better done with collapsible tubes to exclude air, rather than adding preservatives.

    -Prevention of skinning can actually speed internal drying, depending on how it's done. Industrial paints often include an anti-skinning ingredient to ensure through-drying. One product on the market for speeding drying of artists' oils includes an anti-skinning agent as well. My point here is that, just because paint may seem wet and skin-free, doesn't mean it hasn't undergone oxidation.

    -This system (heavy application of retarders and alternating oxygen-rich and oxygen-starved tent environments) sounds impossibly complicated for even a sophisticated artist's studio. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-08-06 10:13:29
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks Matt.

    Appreciate the prompt and considered reply.


    2017-08-06 12:04:35

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