Painting with oils

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Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:35 am

This is a nightmare!! George, I know you use acrylics, but what do you know about oils? I'm using Grumbacher pre-tested. I mixed with linseed oil to thin it down as recommended in this book...now I've got decoys that are dripping wet 20hrs later. Laughing

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  george w on Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:30 pm

Davey, the truth is that decoys painted ages ago were likely done with LEAD based house paints--Whatever book suggested linseed oil to thin was blowing smoke--Adding the oil fattens the paint-Extending dry time, and encapsulating the pigment in a suspension--Turps will kind of dilute the oil, but then, you face the problme of having pigment on a surface with nothing to bind to. Kind of like using jo sonja for a decoy, then wondering why the paint comes off when you float it.
You can try japan dryer, to facilitate speed-up of the paint dry time, but, with oils, time is the biggest factor, and, the fatter you paint, or the thicker you paint, the longer it takes for the interior of that surface to eentually cure--Case in point, There are paintings done by Albert Pinkham Ryder, in the mid 1800's which are still nightmares for conservators.The paint, in some cases, still breaks through the skin which has been cured for a long time.
My suggestion for you--If you are going to hunt with these tools, use acrylics, if you want something that will grace a shelf somewhere, oil is the way to go.
I made a big decision back in 1967, when my MFA thesis discussed the switch from oil to acrylics, which at that time, was a fairly new material.
The neat features were that the canvas did not require prep, whereas, gesso was needed, to act as a barrier between the pigment and oils, to prevent rotting of the canvas.
If you really have a calling for oils, it might be worth taking a class at a local college, just to learn how the medium works, although finding folks who still use it may be a problem..The other journey is to keep playing, trying things that appear to work for you, keeping in mind that this stuff was NEVER REALLY meant for use on hunting tools. There are also various varnishes, which may be better suited for what you ae attempting, but adding more oil to the pigment will make it do just what you discovered. More thoughts---small amounts of media are better than large dollops.
Hope this little missal was of some help.


Last edited by george w on Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:33 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : more cars on the train of thought)

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:04 pm

Very helpful George, thank you. I like acrylic paints for my cork gunning decoys, on my cedar decoys I really want to try making oils work. I enjoy the classic look that it gives the decoy and the way the paint develops a patina over time. I can't turn out as many cedar decoys as I can cork. So I like to do a rig of corks and then a pair or two of cedar.

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:47 am

Just read your reply again George. You've offered the most helpful information I've gotten so far. I don't understand why many people in the carving community are unwilling to help with just providing information. I understand everyone probably has a secret tip or trick that they use, and thats fine. But half of these guys were at some point mentored by another accomplished carver, nothing is more evident of this than when you look at the similarities between their decoys. I wish I had somebody like Hillman or Strunk to learn a few things from, but so far I'm coming along I think.

Just in a few days of a LOT of experimenting with these tube oils, I've learned a few very important lessons. The most important being don't use linseed oil as a medium. Not yet anyway. I'm sure it has a use somewhere, but I'm avoiding it right now. My father inlaw has owned a hardwood flooring business for 30 years and he has a lot of knowledge and experience with oil based stains, paints, laquers etc. He helped me out yesterday and showed me that you can use turpenoid or mineral spirits to help the paint flow, but you have to know just how much to mix before the paint starts to loose its binder.

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  george w on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:50 am

Sometimes, the best way to learn is on your own. Of course, it is frustrating, but once you have gotten through all the experimenting, you will certainly feel a great sense of accomplishment--I think Thomas Edison was asked about all of his failures with lamp filaments and his reply, paraphrsed was-" I just discovered those things that would not work!"
Pigment plus binder is the paint--Less binder, more binder-thin and fat--As you reduce the pigment, you create glazes, or transparencies/transluscencies-That can be accomplished by removing the oil with a thinner-Turps, or by adding varnishes. If i have not harped on this--get Joseph Albers, Interaction of Color--yale univ press--paperback-a good read on what colors do and how our senses respond.
Teaching sometimes will produce a product, but not necessarily the spirit to continue the journey. Mentoring is a catalyst that creates the desire to learn.


Last edited by george w on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:51 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : sp)

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:26 pm

I wish we lived closer George, you're a very generous guy.

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  george w on Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:32 pm

just engaging in some problem solving--There are no secrets, if we hope to continue the tradition of making hunting decoys--As for the other stuff, i can appreciate the time and effort, but if i wanted to make a duck, i would sit on eggs!! Laughing

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:58 am

I really suck at painting, regardless of the medium. I've thought about taking an art class or something. What do you think George? I just can't for the life of me paint a realistic looking feather pattern on a hen. I like the colors...but thats about it. Still not finished though. Oils make you work sloooowww. Sorry for the shitty cell phone pic...but you wouldn't wanna see it in high quality anyway...just makes it look worse! Laughing But hey George, stand back 20yrds and she looks like a hen mallard!



Last edited by Davey Welsh on Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  george w on Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:02 am

IMPORTANT COMMENT COMING UP!! Try to remember that you are looking for an impression of tht feather or group, not necessarily realism, at least for a decoy Painting is a matter of trying to create patterns of light and dark in nature by using pigments, not light.
!Try a little off white on the top edge of the side feathers, but only the top--You might find a neat contrast between top and sides--Keep in mind, the white is titanium and a bit of raw umber--Then the wash with a waterer down burnt umber--oops, that's acrylics. I kind of assume you COULD create a similar wash using turps and burnt umber--SMALL amount-Problem with that wash may be adhesion, though.
If you can find someone to teach you how to manipulate paint--mix, move, etc, then get enrolled in a class--It certainly does not have to be for credit--Explain wht your intent is, Remember, when painting, it is a great idea to have a specimen on the bench, so you have a point of reference to mix toward.. The schedule you have is a guide, based upon matching with the bird--Usually, the order listed represents the larger quantity.
Bill can use some toning down--I am assuming that is cad orange, a bit of white, and some burnt umber? You probably need some more B U Man, this was some HEAVY information!! Wink


Last edited by george w on Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:06 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add on)

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Re: Painting with oils

Post  Davey Welsh on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:07 pm

Thanks George, very helpful! I still have to paint a few more layers on the bill. I'm working on establishing the undertones and then gradually working it down. As far as the feathers, do you think they're too thick or broad? I'm not trying to make it look entirely real, but nice to look at...as opposed to just blobs of paint. I think I may base coat it and try again, but go a little slower and try to make the feather edges thinner.

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