Jul 20, 2011

How to store water mixable oils

How do you store the paints on your palette between painting sessions? When I used regular oil paints I used the method of putting them in a dish and submerging them in water. Obviously that doesn't work with water soluble oils.

Nowadays, I use plastic storage containers as my "palettes" and just seal the lid and toss them in the freezer. Since I like turkey sandwiches, I usually have a few of these floating around to recycle for my painting needs:

Of course, if you don't like turkey sandwiches (why don't you like turkey sandwiches???!), you can always buy containers like these:

It may seem tacky and cheap, but it actually works fairly well. Since I now only paint with 3 primaries and white I don't need a lot of palette space. But, if I do need more space, I can use a few separate containers, one for my blues and greens, another for reds and oranges, etc.

By actually putting paints on, and painting from, these containers, it saves a lot of time and headache not having to transfer them from a regular palette each time I clean up for the day. These small, light-weight containers are also very handy for traveling and doing plein air work.

By the way, you're not actually freezing the paint by putting it in the freezer (but the cold temperature slows down the evaporation rate, preserving the paint's moisture). The oil in the paint does not freeze at the temperature of the average household freezer. It needs to be several degrees colder than that to freeze. So, since the paint doesn't actually freeze, it doesn't hurt it and you don't have to wait for it to thaw. It's ready to paint with right out of the freezer. Here's an article that talks more about it if you want to know more about it:

Freezing Oil Paint

How do you usually store your paints? And what are some of the crazy ways you've tried that may, or may not have, worked?

Jul 15, 2011

Realisic and Painterly at the same time?

I am impressed with artists who can create "realistic" art and still have a "painterly" quality about it. When you think about the definitions of the terms it really doesn't seem like it should be hard to do both. But, in reality, it is. I have tried to do this more with my art recently but so far have not nailed it down.

To do a painterly work and still have it give a realistic feel requires near perfection in color and lighting. I recently discovered the blog of plein air artist, Eckhardt Milz.

He is a master of illusions, in a way.

Look at the painting of the moose in the water. At first glance it almost looks like a photograph. But upon closer inspection (click on the image .. twice .. for a larger view) you see it has a lovely painterly quality to it. This is not easy to do. Believe me, I've tried!

I guess this shows the importance of getting out of the studio and painting plein air, and not just relying on photographs. Easier said than done, of course!

In any case, I've seen very few artists who can do this well, painting both realistically and painterly at the same time. Howard Terpning is one of the few artists who come to mind in this regard. His work is amazing. If you haven't seen it go Google it now. Amazing stuff.

Jul 9, 2011

Water Mixable Oil Paints

I recently read a blog about a way to clean up oil paints without using harmful solvents. While the advice was sound, my first thought was, "Why not just use water mixable oils and avoid solvents altogether?" But then I remembered my recent visit to a local art supply store to buy some water mixables. They didn't have any. I asked the clerk why they didn't carry them. She said they didn't carry them because they just don't sell.

Hmm. Why not? Why aren't artist buying these? In fact, why aren't artists demanding them? Why would anyone want to subject themselves to toxic, smelly chemical solvents if they don't have to? I started asking around and soon discovered that most artists who had ever tried water mixable oils had tried them around the time they were first introduced back in 1992 by Grumbacher as MAX water soluble oils. Artists were quickly disappointed and frustrated by their gummy, tacky properties. I myself tried them and was seriously disappointed, promptly returning to my traditional oils, stinky solvents and all.

Nothing against Grumbacher, mind you. They make fine products. It was just the technology of the time. There were no companies who had got it quite right yet back then.

But years passed and things changed. Water mixable oils have come a LONG way since 1992.

Seriously, if you have not tried them in the last several years you really should give them a second chance. I switched from regular oils to water mixables several years ago and I haven't looked back. There is almost no difference between the look and feel of regular oils and water mixables these days. The only thing you give up is the toxic solvent!

I've tried a few different brands. I quickly fell in love with Van Gogh H2O water mixables because of their soft, creamy texture. I paint fairly detailed and soft oils work better for me. I can paint fine detail without having to thin them much, if at all. Van Gogh H2O water mixable oils were produced by Royal Talens and were considered "student grade" paints. I, however, was never disappointed in them. Nevertheless, Royal Talens decided to discontinue them and replace them with "artist grade" Cobra water mixable oils. I recently replaced some of my dwindling H2O paints with Cobra and I am just has happy as ever with them. They are wonderful! They have the same lovely creamy texture and beautifully rich colors as their H2O paints but now I know they are higher grade and that's just fine by me.

I have also tried Winsor Newton's Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours. It's a good product but a little too thick and stiff for me. It's harder to do the fine detail with a thicker paint.

I've also tried Holbein Duo water mixable oils. This is also a good product and I use them with my Cobras sometimes. Their "thickness" is somewhere in between Artisan and Cobra.

I personally prefer Cobra among the 3, not because the others are not good products, but because the smooth creamy texture of Cobra works well for the sort of fine detail I like to do.

They are all very good paints, much better then their 1990-something predecessors. Which brand you'd prefer depends on how you paint. If you paint impasto then Artisan is probably your best choice. If you paint fine detail, like me, give Cobra a try. If you're somewhere in the middle then Holbein Duos may be your best option.

Whatever your style of painting, please take the time to give water mixable oils another chance. They have improved a LOT since they were first introduced. If you're like me, you'll be so happy to be away from smelly, toxic solvents and know you're doing a good thing for your health by switching!

Comment below with your thoughts. Have you ever tried water mixables? How long ago? Have you tried them recently? How do you paint (detail, impasto)? Which brands do you like best?

Shop Art Supplies

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...