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Hello MITRA forum, I just experienced an oil painting disaster. A series of oil paintings with Titanium white backgrounds yellowed and dulled after several months in my studio storage. Where did I go wrong?! Was it my ground? Oil paint pigment? Medium? Varnish? All of the above?! These are the materials I used:
1. RSG sizing on portrait linen over maple board.
2. Acrylic gesso ground (100% acrylic polymer).
3. Titanium white oil paint for the subject backgrounds. Paint tube notes Titanium Dioxide in safflower and poppy oil.
4. Neo Meglip medium. Described as a contemporary version of Maroger. Contains Petroleum Naphta.
5. Satin archival varnish. A mineral spirit acrylic aerosol w/UVLS. The fine print notes contains: Acetone, Propane, N-butane, Petroleum Distillates, Solvent Naphta, Trimethylbenzene.
Thank you for your thoughts!
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Just a couple of questions first. How were the paintings stored?
Were they in the dark for extended periods of time? How much medium was added?
While this has nothing to do with yellowing, why use RSG
under an acrylic dispersion ground? They are not incompatible but there is
really no reason to use the two together. You would be better to either use a
stiffer acrylic dispersion size or even better, more layers of acrylic dispersion
ground over a more standard acrylic dispersion size.
Regarding RSG and acrylic dispersion painting ground: maybe not incompatible, but I have seen crazing occur when a thinned application of acrylic gesso was layered over RSG. The water content of the gesso had obviously swelled or softened the glue and the primer split as it dried. The resulting film was firmly attached, and actually, if one were trying to achieve that effect, it would have been a perfect example!
Brian and Matthew, just a quick addition on using RSG. I like the strong adhesion of the linen to the maple board. The one time I tried acrylic dispersion size, it may not have been the correct material, but there were air bubbles. I didn't get the strong, even, adhesion I was looking for.
That is true. In fact, back when I did faux finishing, I
remember a recipe to create craqueleur by first coating a surface with animal
glue and then overpainting it with latex paint. This is, in essence, the same
layering as we have here.
To the OP
Have you read over our instructions for adhering fabric to
panel in our resources section in the PDF entitled “Rigid Supports” ?
Thank you for the link Brian. I just read it. Very informative! My apologies, I responded to your storage and medium question on the main page of the forum. Sorry about that. I am still trying to figure out the yellowing issue.
I doubt it's the varnish.
The Neo Meglip will be an alkyd which might cause a little yellowing, but not I imagine to the degree of "disaster."
Do you know if the titanium white is solely titianum oxide without any zinc white? Many years past I tested a series of whites and was surprised how much a titianum white bound in poppy or safflower had yellowed in a room not exposed to much sunlight. It was a single pigment artists range proporting to be of highest quality. Although the painted sample was lean I believed there might have been an very slight and even surface float of poppy oil in drying. This was not present in the titanium/zinc mixes, the lead/zinc safflower mixes, or the lead in safflower. The only sample that yellowed more was a lead/zinc primer in linseed.
Zinc oxide seems to reduce yellowing. Unfortunately it also increases embrittlement. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Thank you Marc! The fancy Italian oil paint says purely Titanium Dioxide as the pigment. Interesting about the varnish not being the culprit and the Galkyd medium possibly responsible. I completely agree with you about "Damned if you do, damned if you don't". That is right on!
Was it Maimeri Puro Titanium white? Because that's the colour with which I had the unexpected degree of yellowing. (Abet in a slightly gloomly studio.) I didn't mention it by name previously because it was so many years ago and I didn't want to presume it still had that same trait.
YES!!! Yikes! That is exactly the paint I used! Thank you for sharing your experience. I am thinking of using Gamblin's Radiant White for the background of the next series. Do you think all Galkyd mediums will yellow? Thanks, Maryam
Gamblin products haven't been available until recently in my country. Import of oil painting mediums by air is judged problematic. So to get to the point, I havent tried them. However I have heard their Galkyds are low yellowing. They're almost all certainly lower yellowing than linseed oil.
Jonathan Linton did a 5 year whites yellowing test which can be found online. Each white was only one sample however so it's possible that one sweeze from the tube could have variations in results due to oil separation. Also those paints might now have different formulations. The Radiant white yellowed considerably in the thick , but not much in the thin. It looks a lot like loose oil from the top of the tube, so I don't completely trust the sample. Can't help much beyond that I'm afraid.
Marc, thank you so much for pointing out the Jonathan Linton White Test. As my husband Nick, a fellow painter, says "worth many prostrations." You have been super helpful! As I try to figure things out, I am heartened by Claude Monet's "Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment."
The Jonathan Linton tests are admirable, but I do not think
that this should in any way be seen as definitive in terms of brand choice. It
seems to me that the only way to do a halfway representative test would be to expel
all of the oil paint from a tube and then mix it to a homogenous consistency.
Only then should the color be applied to a consistent substrate. It would also
have to be done using a drawdown tool so that the thickness od the compared
paints are uniform. Even with this there may be very slight differences in
terms of proportion of oil in the same brand and the same batch due to settling.
The presence and amounts of any stabilizer or thickeners from brand to brand would
have a pronounced affect on yellowing (as they have little covering power) even
if the exact same pigments and oil are used.