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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Best White for ImprimaturaApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-06-03 13:37:10 ... Most recent comment 2018-06-09 10:05:58
    Alkyd Grounds / Priming Oil Paint Pigments

    ​Hello MITRA folks! Can you recommend the best white oil paint (used thinly) for both a straight white Imprimatura and a pale colored Imprimatura? Thin, of course, and non-Zinc. I'm also wondering if a product like Gamblin Ground could be used? Whatever I use needs to be non-yellowing if some areas are left exposed, and also needs to take varnish the same as further layers of oil paint. Hope that's clear. I used to do this with a Zinc-based paint, but apparently that is NOT a viable option anymore. Thanks for your thoughts.

Answers and Comments

  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​And, unless I use an oil-based ground like Gamblin Ground for this application, I'd be working without solvents, even in the Imprimatura. Thank you for your suggestions.

    2018-06-03 17:19:54
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    There is really no better white than lead white for oil painting. It is superior in flexibility and permanence. It is, however, less “white” than zinc and titanium and is both expensive and toxic. It is easy to use lead white safely but some would prefer to avoid both the expense and issues of toxicity disposal. So in lieu of lead white you really only have titanium white. Zinc white has been shown to be very problematic even in small proportion. Other whites lack the opacity to be used as an all-purpose white (barium sulfate, etc) Titanium dioxide on its own has issues as well. It tends to make very weak paint films. Unfortunately, for oil paint, all whites other than lead are a compromise. That is not to say that permanent paintings cannot be made using titanium white, only that it is inferior to lead white. 

    One could certainly use Gamblin’s ground, which is titanium white and calcium carbonate in an alkyd binder. It should take varnish in a similar manner as the rest of your painting and should remain white.

    Brian Baade
    2018-06-08 22:27:26
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you for this very clear and technical answer, Brian. Much appreciated.

    2018-06-09 10:05:58

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