Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Need Your Opinion!

I'm trying something new here. Before I post the finished product I'm requesting the large community of blogger artists to put their two cents in. I have been working on this portrait for more than a year, maybe close to a year and a half. I can't seem to finish it. I'm very happy with the progress I have made, but I'm having some problems, the technical kind. What happens when after so much paint has been applied that you loose the texture of the canvas and the oil paint has nothing to grab on to when it is being applied?
This is what's happening to Steve's face. I have applied so many layers to the face that it has become this smooth glossy thing and when I want to paint on it the oil doesn't stick, and if I keep applying more color it starts to get muddy. Has any one encountered this problem before, and if so what did you do to get some texture back? I have been working this painting with Sun Thickened Linssed Oil and turp but I'm thinking of mixing cold wax medium to bring some of that texture but I'm some what hesitant. I'm always worried that mixing too many mediums could turn out to be disastrous to the longevity of the painting.
I hope one of you out there could help me out a little bit. Maybe I'm getting too precious with this painting. It always seem that I'm so close to being done but it never passes this stage. I keep repainting things. I would appreciate your comments greatly. Take care all and happy painting!


Pilan said...

Somewhere I heard or read about a spray on varnish. I must have read it because I do remember reading not the brush on varnish. I do not remember what kind of varnish it was. For some reason dammar comes to mind. Supposedly you just spray it on and then you can paint the new oil paint right on.

You may want to ask the painters Google blog list this question.

Good Luck.

btw, the shirt is excellent as well.

natepaints said...

One way to bring back the texture is to use a fine grit sandpapper, and lightly sand the area. Use 320 or 400 grit. You really don't need much tooth to hold the paint. To avoid this problem in the future, always add a little dammar varnish into the oil as you paint. You may also not be using enough pigment when painting. A traditonal glazing mix is actually, 1/3 oil, 1/3 varnish and 1/3 mineral spirits (turps). Best of luck!

Luis Colan said...

Thanks for your comments guys. I did thought of sanding down the surface but decided it was not a good idea since I use Lead White for flesh painting. This is the reason why I'm having problems since the lead white I use is from Kremer and they make their white too oily. I've used traditional glazing medium before but a conservator advised this might not be a good idea since dammer darkens dramatically with age. It is easy to remove as a varnish but not when it is mixed with the oil paint and its vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Luis --

For some reason I couldn't post a comment on your blog so I'm mailing

My guess is that you're using way too much oil. Also, sun-thickened is
very viscous. You might consider using regular refined linseed.

Are you abiding by the "fat over lean" rule?

Maybe, you could just mostly forego oil and start with a very lean
imprimatura and work up to straight tube color using less turp for each
layer 'till you get to the highlights.

Of course, none of that helps you with your current problem.

I think your best bet might be to scrape the thing down and let the
remainder cure for awhile. In the meantime, work on other things. When
it's cured enough, sand it down being careful not to sand through the
ground to the canvas. Sand slowly and wear a good mask. As long as you
avoid making dust in the air and wiping up with a wet sponge, the lead
shouldn't be that much of a problem. Support the canvas from underneath
with plywood or something to avoid stretching it. No need to sand it
completely off -- just sand it down enough to get rid the oily muck and
reveal the leaner layers. Then you can start fresh -- either on the same
image or turn it into a completely different painting. Painting on a used
canvas can often lead to great things. It's fun, too.

A couple more things:

It looks like your using a fan blender. Right? If so, throw it in the
trash. I think you're over blending -- way over blending. Well, you
could keep the fan, but put somewhere like in the back of a bottom draw
under a lot of stuff so it'll be there for those few times when you might
really have a use for it.

You don't actually need the canvas to hold your paint. If you follow
the "fat over lean" rule each layer will stick to the preceding one.

I hope I've been of some help.

-- Conor O'Brien

Anonymous said...

Hi Luis,

Your painting of Steve is very good...I hope you find a way to resolve
the problem. I am impressed with your composition and the handling of
his shirt. I also like your painting of the oil bottle and the quality
of light you captured. One day soon, I will start painting
still-lifes, and I am looking forward to painting my first bottle of
one sort or another.

I have little experience with painting, but will offer what little I
have to help with your painting of Steve, and you have probably thought
of these things already!: Maybe, if you let the surface dry, you can
go back in to work on it freshly again. Or, perhaps there is a way to
remove or sand-down a couple of layers of oily paint in that one area,
without making a worse mess. I find that when the painting is
partially dry, that is a nice time to gently go back it to do more
work. Please post your "Steve" solution, or let me know other
suggestions you receive. I'll ask Chris about this for you, when I get
to class on Saturday.

When I do paint, I prefer to work on a smooth surface (panel), or
canvas primed with several layers of gesso and sanding. i have found
corrections easier on a smooth panel. Otherwise, I battle with the
texture of the canvas, and it interferes with the way the light hits
the surface. I learned this from my drawing teacher at NYAA. My
limited experience tells me, when I place too much oily medium in any
one spot, it acts as a thinner and causes problems. Chris is teaching
me to get the drawing problems solved before I move to painting, or I
will mess with the painting surface too much, trying to resolve drawing

Best Regards,
Robin Kappy

Luis Colan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I could not access the comments for some unknown reason on your blog but....
I had a background that I decided was just awful for my portrait ...
it had dried thoroughly....
I sanded it lightly...don't remember what grit but common sense probably led me to fine paper...
painted the new background and it was "saved"....just remember to use same or more oil in your new layer of paint...that thick on thin thing

I have also done light sanding on paintings in areas that had gotten slick but would caution you to do it with extreme care on a face if you really want to when I get stuck with something not going right I just paint over it. (of course you don't want to sand all paint off...would affect gesso...also do not sand lead based paints...yeah..common sense again)

Now take all this with a grain of salt and do what your HEART tells you ;0)

ming said...

what i would do.. is flip the painting get some turpantine a cloth and maybe a tooth brush and start 'washing' the paint around the eye...

i would welcome the resulting mess as a new 'starting point. it's one of those point of no return choices..

i love taking those:)

Anonymous said...

Cut a raw potato in half and rub it over the whole painting. Then paint.

este é o meu corpo said...

great, fantastic work and blog.

Anonymous said...

Luis --

I agree about the dammar varnish as a medium ingredient. I know
linseed/damar/turp is a very common medium, but I've never thought it a good
idea because damar weakens the paint layer and it can be a problem as a
medium and as a glaze because it can be dissolved with turp. I usually
use only turp and regular linseed oil for a medium and not that much
linseed. I start very lean and work up to straight tube color, very
seldom using linseed which I use in small amounts in the glazes. Another
glazing method is to scumble straight transparent color instead of
applying a liquid glaze.

Conor O'Brien