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Question asked 2017-08-19 11:48:53 ...
Most recent comment 2017-08-22 21:59:14
I've read somewhere that shellac-based India Ink can be used for underdrawing before proceeding with an oil painting. Is that durable? Would the ink have to be full-strength, not diluted? I'm looking for an alternative to a solvent-thinned underdrawing that would still show through an Imprimatura. Would an ink underdrawing have to be completely covered by oil paint to be durable? I've seen Golden's article (Just Paint, Oct. 1, 2015) on underpainting alternatives (acrylics, watercolors, safflower oil-thinned paint and egg-oil-water thinned paint) and always wondered if those solvent-free alternatives needed to be completely covered with oil paint in order to be durable? For example, would a perimeter line in a solvent-free underdrawing need to be restated with full-bodied oil paint in order to be durable? Thank you for any thoughts.
Answers and Comments
Ink underdrawings were very common in early oil techniques,
especially the Flemish. These were very likely water based and were bound in either
in animal glue or gum and drawn on the glue-chalk ground. The underdrawing was
generally then sealed in by an oil containing, usually pigmented layer often
called an imprimatura.
Shellac-based ink is a later form of ink and it is usually
called “waterproof India ink” by convention. The ink was generally made with
lamp black pigment and bound in a shellac soap, created by heating the shellac
flakes with an alkali, often borax. The ink is water thinnable but dries water
There is no real problem using such an ink as an
underdrawing as long as a few considerations are kept in mind. First, make sure
you know what is in the ink. Carbon black pigmented inks are probably appropriate
while dye based ink are certainly not. Dye-based inks will likely fade over time
and may even blead through paint layers. Also, India ink may or may not adhere
well to a canvas or panel that has a rich or very smooth oil ground. However, As
long as the ink does not bleed and it is not applied in an unbroken, coherent
layer, this should still be an appropriate underdrawing material. Additionally,
the ink should not be applied in rich puddles as this could result in slick
glossy patches that may promote paint delamination. Finally, one does have to
think about solubility as the work may need to cleaned or have a varnish
removed in the future. These shellac-bound inks will be sensitive to ethanol
and acetone, and perhaps other solvents that might be employed in a
conservation treatment. If all of the underdrawing is covered by oil paint,
than this is far less of an issue. However, there are more than a few paintings
by my one of my favorite artists, Gustave Moreau, where it appears that he did
precisely this; he left exposed ink underdrawing and even ink embellishments
applied over lower paint layers.
Like so many other issues in materials and techniques, it is
probably best practice to record your materials and working methods somewhere
on the painting to guide conservators in the future.
I hope that was of some help.
We do not really see any issue with this mixture. The main thing to keep in mind is to avoid creating any discernible film as this could contribute to possible problems with adhesion/delamination later on. As for thinning out water-miscible oil paints...sure...that could also be fine however realize that WM oil paints are fairly new to the world of art materials. Not enough time has transpired for us to make any definitive statements regarding durability, longevity, etc. and one brand may differ vastly from the next in terms of additives.
The only added consideration to think about here is that the
water you use to thin your water miscible oil paint will likely pick up your
watercolor underdrawing. An ink that dries water insoluble would not have this
Sorry, after rereading your post, it is clear that this is what you meant. Somehow I missed that on the first pass.
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