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Modestly-priced panels for oil

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) makes a good (and cheap!) support for painting and drawing. A 4′ x 8′ piece from a lumberyard is $20. That is 40 9″ x 12″ panels for less than .50$ per panel. If you don’t have a table saw, you can buy a pack of 12 pre-cut panels for 1$ –…

Oil of Cloves

I’ve been following a reader’s tip for slowing the drying time of oils. Responding to my complaint about how oil paint in jars dries too quickly, reader Clint Atkinson suggested that I put a piece of cloth soaked with oil of cloves in the jar. I’ve been following this tip for several weeks and it…

RGH vs Utrecht

A reader asks wether I prefer Utrecht flake white or RGH’s. To answer the question directly: I prefer Utrecht (barely). Utrecht covers better and has more body. To demonstrate this, I share a simple side-by-side comparison. (Note: I currently have some of RGH’s extra fine white. The extra-fine paint is ground in safflower oil, which…

Retouch varnish

When you work on an oil painting over an extended period, colors sometimes become dull. The upper paint layers merge with an earlier layers. This process is called sinking in. If the problem isn’t corrected, it gets worse as the painting progresses. A final varnish can mitigate the bad effects of sinking in, but how…

Alchemist’s alchemy

WHAT WAS THE SECRET OF THE OLD MASTERS? THE ALCHEMISTS KNEW…AND SO SHALL YOU! That bold claim was printed on the (hilarious) instruction sheet tied to the products sold by the Alchemist. The Alchemist no longer uses that hokey marketing gimmick directly, but that message still pervades their website. Claims to possess the secrets of…

St. Charles’ good book

Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters by Sir Charles Eastlake is the best resource–by far–for information about painting methods and materials. Just like the title states. The older studio traditions had already faded into the past when Sir Charles published the first volume in 1847, so the book is a…