Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Displaying Daily Paintings in the Bank

My local bank has very generously decided to support local artists by featuring their work on a couple of walls. They created a special hanging system with wires suspended from a bar along the ceiling.

They invite me to showcase my paintings a couple of times a year. I just hung a new show this month and this time I was able to incorporate my daily paintings. This is how I did it.

At first I wasn't sure how I could show my daily paintings without framing them all, but after seeing another artist with a similar system I came up with a "hanging ribbon" that can showcase about nine 5 x 7 paintings at a time.
This is how I did it. I bought five yards of black, two-inch wide grosgrain ribbon, the same amount of black, sticky-back velcro and a two-inch wide macrame hoop. I anchored the ribbon through the hoop at the top with a few stiches, and hemmed the bottom. I applied the velcro down the entire length of the ribbon, and stick a small square to the back of the painting. Then I just velcro the paintings onto the ribbon and hang it up. It looks quite nice, colorful and professional.
Each ribbon costs me about $10, that's mostly the cost of the velcro. I haven't figured out how to buy it in bulk. But that is definitely cheaper than framing each piece.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oil Painting Mediums

Recently I learned how to mix my own painting medium based on a recipe from the Old Masters. I love using this mixture. It has several advantages: 1) I can vary the percentage of fat/lean. 2) It doesn't smell. 3) It doesn't dry out in the container. 4) I mix up just what I need.

In the picture you can see the ingredients. They are all Winsor & Newton products.


(l-r) Linseed Stand oil, English Distilled Turpentine, Dammar Varnish, my container.

The recipe is as follows:

For the underpainting (Verdaccio or Grisaille):
  • 1 part Linseed Stand Oil

  • 1 part Dammar Varnish

  • 5 parts Distilled Turpentine

I call this mixture 1-1-5

For the middle layer:

  • 1 part Linseed Stand Oil

  • 1 part Dammar varnish
  • 4 parts Distilled Turpentine

I call this mixture 1-1-4

For the top or final layers:

  • 1 part Linseed Stand Oil

  • 1 part Dammar varnish

  • 3 parts Distilled Turpentine

I call this mixture 1-1-3.

I measure out the ingredients into small baby food jars and label them with 1-1-5, 1-1-4, and 1-1-3. You can see that 1-1-5 is the leanest because it has the most turpentine, and 1-1-3 is the fattest because it has the least turpentine. This allows you to follow the rule of "fat over lean."

When I was learning about this medium, I asked the question, "can you substitute regular Turpentine?" The answer is yes, but it will smell. English Turpentine has little to no odor. Regular Turpentine stinks to high heaven, if you ask me. I'd prefer to pay more for the English turpentine just to avoid the odor.

When using the medium, I use a small eye dropper to drop a few drops into my paint mixture before mixing it up with a painting knife.

As long as I'm painting in the style of the Old Masters, I'll continue to use this recipe because it is certainly better than any of the other mediums I've tried. Here's a few comments about those.
Liquin - a Winsor and Newton product designed to thin oil paints and helps them dry quickly. I used to use it exclusively. However, it has a very strong smell and tends to dry in the bottle before I can use it all up. I don't use it anymore. The smell bothers me. Plus my bottle dried all up.

Galkyd and Galkyd Lite - Gamblin products. After I stopped using Liquin I started experimenting with the Gamblin mediums and found that the Galkyds create a glossy painting surface that I like. Galkyds also don't smell much and you can use them as a varnish when your painting dries. But like Liquin, if you don't use them up fast enough they dry in the bottle. I quit using them when I learned how to mix my own medium based on the recipe from the Old Masters.

Daniel Smith Classic Painting Medium. I think I read that Richard Schmid used a formula similar to this one. It's a combination of Turpentine, Stand Oil and Damar Varnish, very similar to the Old Masters. However, it must contain regular turpentine because it smells really strong. In spite of the smell it thins the paint wonderfully, stays glossy, and doesn't dry up the container. I use it for my daily oil paintings because they don't take that long and I'm not doing any layers. But for longer paintings I can't stand the smell. You can only buy it at Daniel Smith Art Supply in Seattle.


Now, here's a picture of me working on a painting in the Old Master's style! Note: I'm in the final layers, using the 1-1-3 mixture.
Yup, that's me!