oil portrait painting
Daily painting: 365 day art project
If you’ve been reading my blog for the past couple weeks, you know I’ve been struggling to find a solution for painting these 4×4 inch oil portraits in less time. Since these panels are so small, I felt that taking 2 or more days to paint them was a ridiculous waste of time. I also needed to speed things up because I’m racing against the clock to get something painted and blogged every day for my 365 day art project. My original plan for this project was to complete a painting a day, but once I started painting in oils, it wasn’t possible.
I started using a fast drying medium with my oil paint, but I quickly ran into four problems. First, the medium thinned the paint too much, and it was a slippery, almost slimy mess. Second, I had to allow the first layer to dry overnight (or longer) before adding a second layer. Third, the drying wait time was killing me. I just wanted to get it done already. And, four, the fast drying medium was causing my oil palette to dry up too quickly, and I had to constantly scrape away dried up paint on my palette.
As I said yesterday, oils are expensive. The brand I use most now is Gamblin, and it can run anywhere from $10 to $22 for a tiny 37ml tube. Some brands are more expensive..like the Williamsburg handmade oils that my sister-in-law, Donna generously gave me last week. A 37ml tube can cost anywhere from $15 to $25+. And, to buy a 37ml tube of Winsor and Newton cobalt violet, have at least $31 on hand. This is why I hate scraping oil paint off my palette.
37ml tube of Gamblin oil paint next to my 4×4 inch painting to show size
The answer to my problems:
Yesterday, I stopped using the faster drying medium, and switched to Dorland’s wax medium instead. If you’ve never used Dorland’s before, the wax is soft, about the consistency of Crisco lard or slightly stiffer than butter. Looks like lard, too. This wax has many uses. I mostly use it to protect and seal my art journal pages..it prevents the pages from sticking together. I also use it to seal my paintings (although I don’t recommend using it on oil paintings until they have dried for several months. I prefer Gamsol varnish for sealing oil paintings because you can use it as soon as the painting is dry to the touch). I also use the wax in my oil paint as a medium.
I use Dorland’s so frequently that I have both the medium, and large size jug in my studio. I keep a small amount in containers on each of my work tables, so I always have it on hand..which is why it baffles me that I didn’t think to use it sooner when it was sitting right in front of me. Doh! Complete brain fart, I guess?
The painting above only has only one layer of paint, and other than needing a couple touchups here and there, I think it’s looking pretty finished. I could have completed the entire painting last night, but it was late, and I needed to get downstairs. If you look back at yesterday’s post, that painting also had one layer of paint, but it was a thin, almost runny, slimy feeling layer that had to dry overnight before I could add more paint to it. What a huge difference between the two paintings, eh? I’m happy I found a solution to my problem.