This is a big question so I think that I will answer
within the body of your question(s). My answers will be in red.
I might win the prize for bringing the most problematic query to the forum.
The reason being that my methods of using oil paint are unorthodox, and I don't
have the most scientific of minds. But please don't be too hasty to judge my
methods. I have spent years of time and money getting to the point I have, and
I am approaching you now seeking a little reassurance/guidance, but also
knowing that you may not be able to give it.
Where to begin. Essentially, I dilute oil paint to the extent of
being able to pour apply it (alarm bells ringing already, I know).
This is only a problem if you are diluting the paint
with a superabundance of solvent. Pourable should be fine, watercolor wash-like
I mix oil paint in different concentrations, with a combination of solvent
and medium, that when poured onto a flat laid rigid support (these days
a primed Aluminium Composite board), they interact and react against each
other in desirable and unpredictable ways as they meet and combine- natural
forms, even fractal patterns, appear within the very dilute paint. detail.jpg
Once this layer is dry, after a few weeks, I paint glazes on top in a more
What I seek in pouring oils, is a contradiction really: Stable instability.
I know the basics...that if you just dilute oil paint with solvent it can't
bind properly and will chalk off.. so I've always been careful to add
oil/alkyd medium of some kind. I also know the fat over
lean rule. But when I am throwing it all on together in one liquid
layer- I can't really apply it that rule in the same way...
Diluting is not the problem, it is over diluting. In
addition, adding additional binder changes the whole dynamic. The aim is to
create a paint that moves in the manner you require AND that contains the
proper binding strength to avoid flaking, powdering, or delamination.
Having the disparate paints flowing into each other
does mitigate some of the issues encountered when layering paints with vastly
different PVCs indiscriminately. The addition of the proper amount of alkyd
medium to this “soup” would probably make this less of a source of concern as well.
The first year I was making paintings like this I used just solutions made
of Turpentine and Linseed Oil, but I encountered drying and yellowing
problems which I since have understood… I then adapted my method and
started using drying mediums instead of linseed oil.
Most mediums will yellow if there is too much in the
paint film. Yes, linseed oil yellows the most initially but all will contribute
some yellowing overtime. You were probably adding more linseed oil to the
mixture than was necessary to compensate for the dilution. Did you see any
The main successful recipe I have used is:
- Liquin mixed with Zest it solvent, and Oil
This would work but honestly, the gelling component
in the Liquin (if it is the standard Liquin) is fighting the ability for the
paint to flow. The Liquin is specifically formulated to hold the stroke where
it is put. If I were attempting this, I would use a flowing alkyd solution medium
(like Galkyd but there are many suitable versions of this on the market) in
just the proportion to create a stable film with the desired gloss and no more.
I think and hope I am using enough of each, for the paint to be just
strong enough to cure and not peel off. It has has made many successful dry and
even paintings over the last 3 years. It gives a very thin, flat surface,
almost like watercolour, once dry. It has had and almost enamel surface
which succesffully took glaze on top. But I do find that it has sunk
in significantly since I changed primer to Thixtropic alkyd primer (which
i thought would be better on Aluminium panels) but I have read that
some primers make sinking in worse. I used to use an oil primer, which I
think I will return to.
The more absorbent the primer/ground the more you
will see sinking in.
Q: Does it matter if a painting surface is sunk in... if I don't
mind the look of it being uneven? Is the worry that any varnish will bond
with the paint and not be able to be removed? – does this even matter? Can I
use a few thin coats of spray retouching varnish to seal it and then later a
proper varnish on top? Would that top layer of varnish be able to be removed if
I did that? Is there a big danger of the painting yellowing /darkening a lot
like this, even if I use thin layers of spray varnish? (winsor and newton).
The only problem with the Liquin is that it darkens over time, and
actually has over quite a short period of time in recent paintings:
(liquin) early 2017.jpg with detail
(liquin) late 2017.jpg . I don't mind how it has changed and
darkened.. but I would like to know if you think it will continue to darken
more and more..
Because of this darkening issue, but still wanting to avoid
yellowing oil.. The second and most recent recipe I am trying is :
-'Drying Poppy Oil' with Zest it solvent and the oil
The yellowing seen with Liquin would likely occur
with the poppy oil as well. I believe that you are just adding too much additional
binder to your pourable paint.
I have started experimenting with this because poppy oil is supposed to be
good for pale colours… and I use a lot of white, very pale and muted colour
fields. (which is another issue.. finding the best white for using large
amounts..currently using Permalba Original. But thinking of trying lead
white?! As if I hadn't already made like hard enough for myself!). drying
poppy oil detail.jpg I knew poppy oil itself would be far too
slow drying for what I do, but thought the one with driers added to it might
work? The early stages of the experiment and I have managed to achieve a
dry and even surface.. glossier than the liquin ones. But I have yet to
try painting glazes on top of this layer. Q: I have heard that poppy
oil is more likely to crack, is this true also of drying
poppy oil? In which case, would you say the surface I have now
that seems smooth and slippery, will eventually crack over time?
is true that poppy oil creates a less satisfactory film than linseed oil. Many
will debate whether this is important or a very minor issue. I would personally
use a fluid alkyd paint medium diluted in a proper amount of solvent if I were
attempting your technique using oil paint rather than any of the unmodified drying
uncontrolled addition of driers with contribute to embrittlement and even
yellowing. In the proper amount they can be a godsend. Again, I would use a
fast drying fluid alkyd medium which already has the optimal amount of driers
added by the manufacturer.
I am certainly an advocate for lead white when used
on traditional paintings, but I don’t really think that it would add that much
to what you are seeking, especially as you are painting on panels. The lead
white contributes flexibility and film stability but it is inherently more
yellow and possesses a significantly lower covering power than titanium white
both of which appear to be needed in your work. It is also important to not add
too muc medium in your final glazes. Glazes are inherently more transparent and
therefore, unable to mask the certain yellowing of the binder. A proper glaze consistency is likely less
fluid that you think. Some of the spreading of the glaze should be by spreading
with the brush .
So there you have it.
I don't know of any oil painters historically to employ methods like these,
I do know artists that have done this kind of thing using Acrylic or resins. I
can only find one other artist online that claims to be using a similar
technique in oil:
But other than his comparative technique, I have not found any other
information to help me navigate this process. I suspect that would be
because it is unadvised to be diluting and pouring oil paint in such a way for
all the potential instabilities it causes.. But it is partly the
instability that makes me want to paint in this way in the first place! You see
I am happy with the paintings currently as they are.. in the short term,
they seem stable. But I am concerned with the long term. I would obviously
like to avoid Extreme yellowing and and peeling off of any paintings in the
future! It is not the end of the world if they change and crack a little bit.
But if it is going to be a lot, then I would feel unethical in selling the
works. OR I do you think I should include a clause when selling that says
I can not vouch for the archival quality of the work?
I am aware that what I am trying to achieve would be probably be far easier
and perhaps more straightforward if I used acrylics instead- (it would sure be
a lot cheaper!)… but I am not quite ready to give up on the beautiful effects I
can achieve using oil paint, everything I have invested in experimenting.
Yes, acrylic dispersion paints are easier to experiment
with and be confident it producing a stable paint film. I also understand your
desire to continue using oils.
Any tips, or even educated guesses, on ways I could be doing this
better - mediums that are good for making a strong but pourable paint film?!
Ratios I should keep to? or other ways to keep the work stable for as
long as possible... would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! sorry this
has been such a long and confused essay...
I discussed some of this above. It is really not
possible to give exact ratios other than to say that the paint should not be
diluted beyond a pourable consistency. I would do some tests with different
concentrations of added alkyd on scraps of canvas or panel to find a happy
medium between paint that is not too fat which would yellow and one which is
I hope this was of some help. In addition, others
may have suggestions as well. Finally, feel free to ask for clarification if I
missed something here.