I recently spent some time in the studio replenishing my supply of handmade linseed oil. After working with my own oil for the past year and testing several other store-bought brands along the way, I am convinced I will never be without my handwashed organic linseed oil for mulling paint and making my own mediums. It has really revolutionized my painting process and I have not found a suitable replacement with the same working characteristics that can be purchased in a store. The majority of art store linseed oils are extremely slow drying, and create short, bouncy paint. My paint is long and stringy, smooths under the brushstroke and dries incredibly fast. You can read about the water washing process here. I also made a beautiful jar of sun dried linseed oil, nothing beats the hot New Mexico sun for creating the perfect bodied oil!
I have also discovered that different brands of organic flax oil have different properties when washed, I like the flora brand best so far but haven't experimented with a lot of other brands yet. When I think of the old masters and the oils and pigments they created I wonder how we can ever reproduce the paint quality they created in their artworks! I still have much to learn, but continue to experiment and enjoy being able to create different properties in my paints for different subject matter.
I've been experimenting with new pigments over the summer. It has been tricky to work with some of the pigments I've tried. Vicenza Earth is a pigment I purchased after reading about it's low opacity and glazing qualities. It is also used as a pigment extender, and I love many of these types of pigments!
I found the particle size to be so large and gritty it was impossible to use as a glaze, or extender. It left a texture in my paint that I found undesirable, but this is because I choose to have very smooth glass like surfaces in my final paintings. Sometimes it is difficult to spend time experimenting and end up with unexpected results. I have had mixed results making mediums with powdered leaded glass, and also making paint with the Smalt pigment. The Smalt was very difficult to work with. I did not document those in photos, but I will continue to update my blog with my painting endeavors in the future.
Still life with Plums and MacGillivray Warbler 16"x16" oil/panel by Sarah Siltala