Thursday, September 24, 2015

Titanium vs Lead White



I spent some time recently experimenting with handmade white oil paint.  I thought I'd share a little comparison I made after mixing Chromium Oxide Green into three different whites, my handmade white, lead white, and titanium white.  Chromium Oxide Green is so easy to bend warm or cool so I thought it would be great to show just how warm lead is compared to the opaque cool of titanium.  

Lead white is very warm and somewhat translucent, it also dries very quickly.  Titanium white is ten times more opaque than lead, is cooling to color and slower to dry.  Titanium results in a chalky quality in painting that is not always desirable, compared to lead white. 


I've learned that combining calcite with lead white creates Ceruse or "lootwit" and was used by Rembrandt and Velazquez for translucent passages.  i also purchased some barite, after learning it is even more transparent than calcite and was used by the Old Masters with lead white as well, it was called Venice Ceruse, or Venetian white.
I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I tried to recreate the transparent quality of lead by mixing barite with titanium, resulting in a non toxic white that isn't cool and chalky.

The barite, titanium and my handmade SRO linseed oil created another ropey long paint.  To bulk it up I ended up adding a little bit of calcite as well, maybe 10% calcite.  The mixture was lovely!  So, would it be somewhat similar to lead?  I know my mixture will dry faster than commercially tubed titanium because of my handmade linseed oil.  Next was to mix with green and compare.  I was very pleased to see that my handmade white, while still not as warm as the lead, was still closer in color/value.  I took several pics in different lighting to share.











Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Art Talk, Rio Grande Art Association


 Swallow and Grapes  24"x30

This past weekend I gave a small talk and paint making demonstration for the local oil and acrylic painting group, the Rio Grande Art Association, in Albuquerque.  In my talk I discussed my indirect layering method and the influence of Flemish and Venetian painting technique.  After a brief history of the two styles I explained my modern approach and interpretation of these classical painting methods using layers and glazes.  After that I shared  a little bit about my paint making experiences and most recently, making hand refined linseed oil.  It was a fun experience and I met a lot of other great local artists.  I'm not used to public speaking so I was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I always enjoy talking about art! 




Here are some of the materials I brought for the paint making demo.  I brought several examples of traditional water washed oils, and also demonstrated how to make a calcite putty to add to the hand made paint, this was a lot of information to share in a very short amount of time!  


Above I am demonstrating paint making and recreating my favorite light mix of titanium white with a touch of yellow pigment and yellow ochre pigment. Making paint is a great time saver for creating your favorite color combinations which can be tubed for later use.  

 
happy painting!


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Hand Refined Linseed Oil from Flax oil



Sparrow and Nest  12"x12"


I just completed my first successful batch of hand refined linseed oil out of organic, cold-pressed Flaxseed oil.  I say 'successful' because the first batch I made I accidentally chose a bargain organic flax oil, an oil with additives in the ingredients (anti-oxidant mix with sunflower oil) that will cause my paint to never dry successfully over time.  I learned the hard way, READ the ingredients!!  I consider that my practice run because my second batch, with a very high quality pure flax oil, is beautiful and I'm over the  moon excited to make some paint and test it out to learn it's unique properties.  

I also have half of my new oil thickening in the sun, I plan to use that bodied oil for my hand made calcite putty medium.  I've learned that combining calcite with lead white creates Ceruse or 'lootwit' and was used by Rembrandt and Velazquez for translucent passages.  I also purchased some barite, after learning it is even more transparent than calcite and was used by the Old Masters with lead white as well, it was called Venice Ceruse, or Venetian white. 



here is the good quality oil I purchased to cleanse and make into linseed oil:





I've combined the oil with water, salt and sand.  A chemical reaction takes place and the mucilage and impurities are separated from the flax oil, they settle into the sand on the bottom, the cleansed oil floats above the salt water layer:  ingenious!  

After several mixes and changes in water/sand/salt I have the resulting oil, a bit cloudy from water particles still in the oil but cleansed of the mucilage, fatty acids (Omega 3s) and impurities that slow drying and yellow over time:





After setting in a glass tray in the sun for a few days to clear, we have the finished oil!  My own batch of hand refined SRO (salt refined organic) linseed oil will now have its own unique personality compared to the commercial hot pressed, alkali-refined linseed oils.  Commercial linseed is stripped of all the properties that create unique painterly effects.  This is due to the fact that they are refined in the same manner as vegetable oils are refined for consumption.  The qualities that are desirable in oil painting cause a fresh oil to go rancid and spoil, these materials are stripped from the oil in the commercial process to create a long shelf life.  Hand refined SRO oil keeps all the good stuff and eliminates the impurites and mucilage, resulting in an oil that the older painters prized in their hand made materials. 

My oil will create long, adhesive paint as opposed to 'short and bouncy', it will not yellow and will dry much more quickly now and to a strong, hard film.  These are exactly the characteristics I'm looking for in my painting practice.  If I were to heat this fresh oil to 100C on my stove for an hour, the resulting oil would create paint that is short, bouncy and dense.  My other half (that is thickening in the sun at the moment) will also have unique tendencies and rheology in my paints and mediums.  I love learning all the different painting qualities I can create, and am in complete control over, by processing my own materials.

ta da!