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  #1  
Old 18-02-08, 11:25 AM
Paul B Paul B is offline
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Default Oil over egg problems.

Hello this is my first question to this site. I have introduced my self in the other section. I hope that is correct. I cannot find instructions so I apologize if I am messing things up at all.

My problem is: I am painting oils over plain egg tempera (yolk,pigment,water) using the basic oil medium of Stand oil, turpentine and dammar varnish. The oil paint stays sticky for a very long time with dammar, and without it the paint stays wet for a very long time. I have experience of working with just oils so I know that this is taking far far longer to dry. My best guess of why this is happening is that the tempera is not dry enough? (I let it dry for a little over two weeks), but I don't know for sure if this is the cause.
There was a useful post on this forum called 'isolating layer for oil glazes' by otto 11/21/05. A reply for this post said that a layer of oil was put onto the egg tempera, the excess wiped off, a then oil paint painted wet on wet. I fear this would add to my non drying problems?
I know that usually tempera painters don't varnish their work, but if they do how long would they wait, and why? I can see this issue causing similar problems to ones that I am having. I read somewhere that dammar was good to use as an isolating varnish. I have tried this with the experiments so far.

So in a nutshell I suppose I am asking how do you put oil over egg. And do painters who choose this medium have to wait a year or so for the egg tempera layer to dry before continuing with the oil paint?

I hope this question is not to winded. Also I don't know what any of the things below this panel mean (parse links and number of poll options)., so I apoligize if this question comes to you a little messed up.

I would be very grateful if one of you could help me, I have struggled with this for years.
Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 19-02-08, 02:43 AM
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paintrman paintrman is offline
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Paul,

My guess is that the oil isn't drying because it is just sitting on top of the egg tempera and isn't soaking in...like it can when painted over gesso. It might also be the weather. I use alkyd medium (M. Graham's Walnut Alkyd Medium which doesn't have any solvents in it) instead of the traditional painting medium you described because it not only dries overnight or two days at the most, but it doesn't yellow or turn brittle like traditional mediums can. Once the oil glazes are dry then you must wait at least 6 months to a year for the painting to cure properly. Do I wait that long....nope. I can't wait that long because daddy needs to eat. Retouch varnish is a good idea if you can't wait but you need to know that it will bond to your painting if left on too long!

If you want to read the best book available about the topic, check out Koo Schadler's book. You can find her website by doing an internet search for Koo Schadler.
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  #3  
Old 19-02-08, 07:52 AM
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paintrman View Post
Paul,
Retouch varnish is a good idea if you can't wait but you need to know that it will bond to your painting if left on too long!
Retouch varnish WILL bond to your paintfilm, no matter what, unless you wait 6 - 8 months before applying it. A better way is to apply an ultra-thin isolating layer of Amber varnish. This will stay on forever and protect your final paintfilm against solvent attacks. Amber varnish goes back a long-long time in history and is in my opinion in any way superior compared with Damar. And that leads me to the topic subject;

Paul, what are the proportions of your medium mixture to your oil paint, and second, of how many parts of each ingredient is your medium constructed?

Understand that Damar is a soft resin, it will always be resoluble in solvents, and thus will be a weak factor in your paintfilm, especially if you finish your work with delicate glazing layers with Damar as a medium component. A much better choice would be to start looking at the hard resins, which are optically very bright and create a very strong paintfilm. Using Amber or Copal as a medium component will make it unnecessary to apply a final varnish, the work is finished and ready for the client as soon as you put down your last paintstroke. (see; http://www.jamescgroves.com/mediums.htm)
As for making your paintfilm dry faster, especially in the early layers I can recommend Lead Naphthenate, which can be bought from Natural Pigments.com or the SP store. Only the tiniest drop from the point of a needle is needed to speed the drying process. Lead dries from the inside out, is is a so much better, and safer alternative then just a surface drier like Cobalt.
Lead/Litharge has been used extensively by the old masters, but Alkyd is a big soup of a lot of components, not time tested, and should not be used (or confused!) as a replacement for a drier.

A medium constructed, for example, of 3 parts Standoil, 2 parts Amber varnish and 6 parts Turps or Spike oil with a very tiny amounth of Lead Naphthenate, will give you an excellent medium for your first oil layer. (I assume you work in layers) It'll be sticky-dry to dry the next day. Just drop the amounth of solvents in every new layer. Never make a soup of your paint with your medium, never-ever make it like 'watercolor'. Tiny amounts of medium will greatly improve your paint handling, and will not result in slow drying, sticky crap, but stay away from slow drying colors in your first layers anyway.

Last edited by Danny; 19-02-08 at 10:33 AM.
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  #4  
Old 19-02-08, 11:40 AM
Paul B Paul B is offline
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Thank you paintrman and Danny for your replies.

I appreciate you taking some time to construct your answers. Could I ask you both some further questions.

Paintrman; Does the Koo Schadler book deal with painting oil over egg tempera?

Paintrman and Danny ; Do you leave the egg tempera to dry, and for how long before putting on the oil layers?

Danny;
1.I see you are based in the Netherlands. Do 'Natural Pigments.com' ship the Lead Napthenate to you. On the website they say they will only post it inland. I live in England and cannot find a supplier here. Also, I can't find the 'SP store' online.
2.In two of my old books they say that copal varnish (and amber) yellows in time (more than linseed oil). Are you worried by that? It would be good to get the properties that you describe, but I am concerned that this might be the case. My guess is that you are ok with it because the copal is used as just one small component in the medium????
3.When you say do not make 'a soup' of your medium and never make it like 'watercolour', what do you mean?

Sorry to load more questions on to you. If you can spare the time to answer these questions I would be extremely grateful.

I am using Alkyd medium at the moment but I want to stop using it . It seems to handle the sticky non drying problem better than the other medium or just plain oil paint/stand oil/turps but it does not solve it. I dont like using the stuff, but am just using it now to get some paintings finished. I would love to paint as simply as possible, but this method keeps me struggling.

The medium I used was 5 parts turps/1 Dammar/1 stand. I add a lot more Turps for the first layer and reduce the added turps as I go on.

Although I will try and use Copal varnish instead of the Dammar as you suggest. I think the dammar is not the main cupret in terms of me ending up with a mess because just plain paint drys too slowly as well(though i appreciate your comments . Danny, did you have this problem, before you added the Lead naphthenate? Sorry that is yet another question. Is the slow drying of the oil layers a problem all artists using this system face or is it something I am doing wrong with my egg tempera layers?

I have tried painting on gesso, chalkground and prepared paper. All these have resulted in the same problem. If it is something just I am doing wrong with the egg layer. Could it be using to much egg medium with my pigments, painting egg layer too thickly, or putting on too many egg layers? I have done experiments by putting both the medium and just plain dammar on a raw gesso panel and prepared paper and the two substances both where touch dry in a matter of hours; so it must be the egg tempera messing stuff up? I also put both liquids on an old egg tempera painting that was rapidly and very very thinly painted and has been drying for many years. Once again the two liquids dried very rapidly. If you were to tell me you have to leave the egg to dry for a couple of months I would be much closer to the answer, but I have yet to find this written.

Sorry I have rambled on so much. I am climbing the walls with this one.

Thanks again for the replies so far.
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Old 19-02-08, 12:34 PM
Danny Danny is offline
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Paul, let me start-out that I don't have experience with oil-painting directly over egg tempera, but I'm certainly interested in doing so in the future.

I assume that if your egg tempera feels good, not sticky or strange, there would be no problem with your oil paint layers. Oil paint dries on a sheet of glass, without any absorption at all, so this is not the cause of your problems as far as I can see it. The use of egg tempera as an underpainting is time-tested and an excellent 'old-school' method.
I paint on rabbitskin glue gesso, sealed with a thin layer of shellac with little absorption.

What I mean with "never make a soup or 'watercolor' of your paint with your medium; > don't make the mistake of mixing large amounts of medium in your oil paint. Add a small part of medium to your paint (10-20%) or pick some paint with your brush and dip the tip or your brush in a bit of medium and apply it on your panel. That's the way to go. You could also apply a very thin layer of medium on your panel first and paint into that. But again; thin! This is especially a nice way of working when you're finishing with glazes, so you lubricate the paint surface slightly.

I bought my lead nap. from http://store.studioproducts.com/ , and as far as I know NaturalPigments ships internationally; (http://naturalpigments.com/help/deli...#International)
B.t.w., on the site of James Groves you'll find an authentic 19th Century Siccatif de Courtrai, which may be an excellent replacement for the Lead Napthenate! His Black Walnut oil is excellent as well (oil cooked with lead). All his products are made with Walnut oil, and thus hardly yellows. He ships international, and is a very kind man to do business with. I HIGHLY recommend his products.

About yellowing of Amber and Copal; Let me tell you, do you think Damar will not yellow in time? It certainly will. Damar will yellow for sure. Take a look at the Mona Lisa. The final varnish layer(s), which is most likely a Damar or Mastic resin varnish, has so dramatically yellowed, that the original colors disappeared. Now, the addition of a resin in your medium should, just like a medium by itself, be applied to your paint in small amounts. Keep your layers thin. All excessive uses of mediums in thick heavy layers (the faulty soup and watercolor techniques) will result in terrible constructed oil paintings that will yellow badly. It certainly is not necessary to add a resin to your oil paint, I like the way it handles, it's optical qualities and it's resistance to solvents. Dali used it, it's been around since the 15th century (maybe even earlier), and if I'm correct, one of the first varnishing methods for finished egg tempera paintings. But many painters now, and from the past worked with just oil. It's a personal preference. I make use of Amber, it's so concentrated, you only need very tiny amounts, it'll take you a long time before you finish a small bottle. (Unless you paint your house with it.) Be sure to check all info on James Groves site, it's an interesting read.

A friend of mine started working with Amber products from Alchemist; http://ambervarnish.com/index.php?pr=choose_products
I don't have any personal experience with Alchemist products, but it might be worth checking out.

The medium you use is lean enough, I wouldn't thin it down any further with solvents if I was you. You'll underbound your oil paint film too much if adding to much solvents, leaving you a weak paintfilm.

Take a good look at which pigments you use, some dry very slow, go for average to fast drying colors. If you don't know for sure, check the site of Michael Harding ; http://www.michaelharding.co.uk/colours.php
He tells you the oil content and the drying speed of each of his colors, it might be handy if you're not familiar. By the way, his paint is top quality as is Old Holland, not to fat and a large pigment load.

Last edited by Danny; 19-02-08 at 01:36 PM.
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  #6  
Old 19-02-08, 01:20 PM
Paul B Paul B is offline
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Thanks for all your help Danny. I really appreciate it. I will order some of the things you have recomended today.
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Old 19-02-08, 02:44 PM
Danny Danny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B View Post
Thanks for all your help Danny. I really appreciate it. I will order some of the things you have recomended today.
You're welcome, and good luck Paul!

One note; You already made an egg tempera underpainting as I understand. The need of solvents in your medium don't have to be that much at all. I start with an underpainting in oil paint, so I start working lean with more solvents, but you already skipped the underpainting stage with tempera. I wouldn't make a too lean medium.

Last edited by Danny; 19-02-08 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 19-02-08, 03:42 PM
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paintrman paintrman is offline
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Of course oil paint will dry on glass...eventually! The problem could be many things. The oil paint you are using might have too much oil in it. The brand matters a lot. I use only Winser and Newton or M. Graham oil paint. As Danny pointed out, adding too much medium can cause problems. Only use a drop or two to thin as needed. And, as I pointed out earlier, weather can keep things from drying some times.

Koo Schadler's book devotes the last section to painting oil over egg tempera. It is a fantastic book. I have been using the technique for some time now and haven't had any of the problems you are experiencing. I do use alkyd medium though and I noticed you don't want to use it. However, I find that the body of research I have read (for the most part) thinks it is a superior medium to use. I have used Damar and Retouch and (too many to list) for over 25 years and can honestly say that the yellowing and cracking isn't fun to deal with. I always dread getting calls from past clients wanting me to look at their painting. I literally have nightmares of getting these calls.

Check out Koo's book. I have loaned it to a friend so I can't check the "troubleshooting" section for you but I think she discusses problems similar to yours. I also recommend checking out the M. Graham website for further info on painting without solvents and for more info on their Alkyd medium. http://www.mgraham.com/
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Old 19-02-08, 03:51 PM
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paintrman paintrman is offline
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Sorry, forgot to mention that I start painting my oil layer about a day later. I think the safest thing is to wait about two weeks. I usually put my painting in the sun for an afternoon because it helps it "set up". The next day, I start the oil layer.
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Old 19-02-08, 05:17 PM
Paul B Paul B is offline
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Thanks Paintrman. That has made things even clearer. I will get a copy of that book.
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