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  • The "fat over lean" principle in alkyd paintingApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-04-04 13:13:45 ... Most recent comment 2018-04-16 13:21:37
    Alkyd Drying Oils Paint Mediums Oil Paint

    When painting in oils, it is necessary to avoid putting layers of "lean" (faster-drying) paint over "fat" (slower-drying) paint.​ However, I'm not quite sure how this relates to using alkyd mediums with regular oil paints. The problem is that alkyds dry faster than oils, even though the mediums themselves contain drying oils as well. Therefore, it would seem that layers containing more medium (drying faster) should be painted before the layers containing less medium (drying slower), which is the opposite of using regular linseed or walnut oil in traditional oil painting. Is this correct? Or does it not matter, so long as the previous layer is touch dry (since the solvents in the medium would "bite into" the previous layer)? Also, I remember reading that if alkyd mediums are used, they should be used throughout, in all layers. Is that so?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    There is an excellent response regarding alkyds, flexibility, drying rates and "fat over lean" in this thread:

    If you feel this doesn't completely satisfy your request, feel free to post followup questions.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2018-04-04 20:26:07
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Thank you for the reply. I read the thread you linked and - as far as I can tell - so long as the differences in alkyd medium content between layers are minute, the fatness of any layer isn't as important. I'd assume that this also means that this also applies to layers that are semi-dry or touch dry, not fully dry?​

    2018-04-11 12:14:46
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    It is generally best to wait until initial layers a dry to the touch before continuing painting in oils and alkyds as the upper layer can slow down the oxidation of the lower layer. This can create a situation where upper layers are more brittle than those below them resulting in cracking. We see this phenomenon on many 18th-20th century paintings. The situation is exacerbated when driers are used in final layers.

    Brian Baade
    2018-04-16 13:21:37

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