I want to talk about alkyds. Since that is not a discussion topic it would seem appropriate to ask here due to their compatibility with oils.
It seems that alkyds have become a ghost medium. I see little discussed or promoted about them lately . I don't know any other artists who use them.
I have a little experience with them. I wanted to move away from underpainting with acrylics. After discussions in the mid-nineties on the rec.arts.fine forum about acrylic underpainting being inappropriate for oil works, one person when as far as contacting Grumbacher who had to concede that the practice of acrylic underpainting is indeed inappropriate for oil paintings. The reason being acrylics need a stable support while oils require a flexible support. While an oil on board may fair better with an acrylic base I wanted to try to switch to the alkyds.
The problem: There just isn't enough information on the subject. When reading one item on the subject regarding the process of using alkyds I was left frustrated by the final warning, that you still have to follow the at over lean rule. While the pigments used in alkyds should have the same absorption rates by pigment to oils, but the reasons we pay attention to the oil absorption rate to begin with is in large part due to drying time. Here there is a difference. Titanium white oil form the tube and titanium white alkyd from the tube will not dry at the same rates. Thus it is difficult to apply the fat over lean rule to alkyds especially if you want to use them for more than just underpainting.
While I can learn much simply by experimenting on my own it is a slow process and some results take time. I turned here hoping someone has more information or experience that they would share. Thanks, sharon
Gamblin makes an alkyd paint called Fast Matt which is designed for under-painting because it has a matt surface and leaves some tooth for additional layers of regular oil.
I often use alkyd mediums like Liquin and others to speed up drying. Personally, I wouldn't worry about mixing alkyds with regular oils or interweaving them. Many times painters from many years ago and now work on oil paintings, put them away and continue working on them months later. Obviously the drying rates are different and the paints seem to bond fine. Oil paints skin over and then the material below the skin dries at a slower rate.
If you study the molecular activity of drying paint, there's no doubt that the most ideal is to do the entire painting in one sitting. But somehow, without any chemical knowledge, oil paintings done 100 years ago have held up fine. You really don't see oil painting flaking apart. They do loose their grip on canvas once they become brittle but that's the unfortunate nature of canvas more so than oil paint. (it flexes)
I'm going to buy some Fast Mat basic colors and white for under paintings. I have white alkyd and use it with my regular oils and all's well but 100 years from now, who knows? Someone at the Met will have to restore them.
Thanks for the link to fastmatte. I had originally read that alkyds could be mixed at a 50% ratio to turps or as I use OMS. I found this mixture to be unsatisfactory for the underpainting so am happy to try the mixture of galkyd and gamsol. This may work better. Many of my paintings are done alla prima however one of the things I want to do is substitute alkyd white for all of my regular oil white tinting needs. Will that work, I wonder? I would think the faster drying time would work well with the faster rates of other oils rather than slow drying titanium white. I also know of artists who use white gesso as a replacement for slow drying white oils but had not tried that one yet. The white gesso would seem to work with some of the same properties of fastmatte, that is matte finish with a tooth.
Another thing I found interesting is that comments that alkyds dry to the touch in 24 hours. However I have during long painting sessions that the paint is dry to the touch in something more like eight hours. If you paint for very long periods the best practice seems to be mixing small quantities of color and then mixing more as needed.
For some reason cad red takes forever to dry. Sometimes I scrape my pallet clean when the paint is hardening up a bit and the cad red is always soft. the earth colors seem to dry the fastest. I use Alkyd white with other paints but sometime or many times there's no white in the mixture and I add a little liquin knowing this.
I guess we're just impatient.
Impatient, yes probably. So many ideas, so little time... And really all I started out looking for was a replacement for my underpainting that didn't include acrylic. But something about alkyds kept pulling me back, like techniques that require a dry paint layer in continue with glazing or dry brush strokes. I had used alkyd mediums in the past but I do like working with the paints and seeing what I you do with them.
I use Alkyds from time to time, not only Liquin which I use the most.
I mix oil paints with Alkyds, however with the previous layer totally dried. If you like fast speed drying then Alkyds are good but you can achieve the same or very similar results with oil paints plus additives, there are so many options in the market that is really more than we need :-)
Sometimes I also use an underpainting and then the first two layers with Alkyds and then go back to oil until I finish the detailed painting. The only reason is that I prefer slower drying time at the last steps and I want to go very quickly at the preliminary stages.
hope this helps
Yes, thanks Pedro. I like the idea of two alkyd layers and then going to oil. However I know that if I experiment with that I am still going to want to use alkyd oil anytime I need white in the mix. I tried my oil whites with galkyd medium but so far prefer the alkyd white.