Tips and Studies

Baseline yourself

Regardless of where you are in your career, you will do well to establish a baseline for your oil-painting toolkit. The baseline provides a powerful framework that you can use to analyze materials and techniques. At some point in your journey, you begin to question the received wisdom that guided you at the outset. This…

Fat over lean

So you’ve embraced the two related studio aphorisms I discussed in this recent post: fat over lean, and make the lights thick but keep the darks thin. In practical terms what does this mean? Oil paint, tube paint, is stiff and unmalleable. Adding oils and solvents to the paint makes it manageable. But these additions…

Turpentine diaries 12/31/2018

Art is filled with aphorisms. Fat over lean, for instance, is a famous adage. The meaning for this old saw that is the most straightforward is to paint thickly-applied paint over thinly-applied paint. Why this distinction? Well, if you paint in layers, that is, if you paint over previously painted areas, you ignore this practice…

Homemade-drying walnut oil

I wrote before about the drying linseed oil I prepared. I decided to continue my investigations by preparing some drying walnut oil, the results of which you can see in the accompanying photograph. The walnut oil is clearer than the linseed oil and has the same excellent handling qualities. How did I prepare it? I…

Finished? Not finished? Finished? Not finished?

How do you know when a painting is finished?Many artists have trouble determining when a painting is finished. It can be excruciatingly painful to let a painting go, especially after you worked on it for a long time. If like me, you focus on problems as you work, it can be easy to fixate on…

Homemade drying oil

Homemade drying oil.The crude container that I made with a lead sheet contains 16 oz. of cold-pressed walnut oil. I’ll leave the oil in the container for several months before straining it into a jar, like the one in the upper-left of the photo. The lead imparts drying qualities to the oil making it excellent…

Turpentine diaries 5/27/18

The Woman in Red Pants is not over-large so I finished the underpainting, shown here, in 2 sessions. The Woman in Red Pants is 36″ x 48.”  We live in a great time when information about nearly every subject is at-hand, right?  Create a battery?  Create an electric motor?  Build a house?  There is also…

Preparing a canvas surface for oil painting

This is a companion to my canvas stretching post. After you stretch a perfectly taut and square canvas, you’re ready to prepare the surface. Our goal is threefold: protect the canvas protect the paint create a perfect surface  Why do we have to protect the canvas?  Oil is acidic, so if you paint directly on…