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  • INTRODUCTION TO OIL PAINT

    Don't be scared to try oil paints!

    Using oil paint might seem a bit scary at first – they require the use of chemicals, they are more expensive and generally considered harder to learn the proper techniques. This general introduction to oil paint should prove useful if you’re considering making the decision and try them out – even though they require more painting knowledge, it is worth getting into!

    So what really are oil paints?

    Oil paint is a traditional material that has been used in Europe since the 15th century. It basically consists of one or various pigments (organic and/or metallic based - these days synthetic versions are much more common) mixed with oil - typically linseed, poppy or sunflower.

    Different Solvents

    The most striking feature of oil paint is that they will not dissolve in water. But don’t let it discourage you! With enough knowledge, these chemicals will become less sinister!

    Turpentine

    Spirits

    Painting Medium

    If you are not sure about what kind of brush to use with oil paint, find more information here

    Curious what brand of oil paint to choose? Read our comparison here

    Painting Surfaces and Preparation

     There are two main surfaces for oil painting: stretched canvases, canvas boards or wooden panels. You can prepare your own preferred painting surface, or purchase them.

    Canvas stretching
    canvas boards
    Wooden panels

    It is advised to put a layer of (rabbit skin) glue onto the surface of the canvas before the Gesso, but it is essential when you’re working with wood, as otherwise it could curl due to the moisture in the paint. After two or three layers of glue another two or three layers of Gesso (a mixture of rabbit skin glue, water, and chalk that creates a flexible and absorbent layer between the canvas or wood and oil paint) are applied. It’s not necessary to paint too many layers, as it could result in dull colours if the heavy layers absorb the oil paint. In between preparatory layers you should always use sandpaper to smooth the surface.

    Oil Painting Techniques

    “Fat over lean” technique

    This is the basic principle of oil painting, which is the method of applying thinned down paint (high percentage of solvent) first, and gradually using less and less solvent. “Fat” refers to the oil paint that’s diluted with an oil medium (linseed or poppy seed oil) while “lean” means oil paint that’s diluted with turpentine or spirits. If the layers aren’t applied correctly, it could cause cracking.

      

      

    Artwork by Meredith Milstead

    “Alla Prima” / Wet on wet technique

    This is a technique where layers are applied without leaving the previous one to dry.

      

      

    Varnishing Your Painting

    No matter what kind of varnish you use, it is important to know when to varnish oil paintings - however dry they seem, they might not be completely!
    With other paints, the drying process is basically just evaporation – but not with oils. While the surface is seemingly and “physically” dry, truly it is an ongoing chemical process of oxidation, and after this stage the painting begins to age.

    Therefore, oil paints are advised to be varnished after at least half a year after the work has been finished. Otherwise, the varnish will work as a seal and won’t let oxygen pass through the layers effectively. Halting the oxidisation process will leave the deeper layers still wet, which on a long run will cause the surface layer to crack.

      

    Read more about varnishes here.

    How Do I Clean My Brushes Properly?

    Getting out of oil paint from your brushes might seem to be a struggle – but in reality, it’s not so hard! First of all, you don’t necessarily need to have completely clean brushes. It is easy to simply wipe your brush with a towel, or for a cleaner bristle, damp it with a bit of solvent, linseed oil or brush cleaner solution. Even when you’re starting a new painting, it is useful to have a bit of leftover paint in your brush, as it is perfect for sketching. As Mark Carder* demonstrates in his useful video, cleaning your brush frequently does more damage to the bristle than leaving paint in it! However, even if oil paint dries very slowly, you do have to take care of your brushes when you don’t intent to use them for a few weeks. In that case, the best way is to use some sort of spirit in a well ventilated area, and clean the brush with a (paper) towel.

    *make sure to check out his tips on "easy ways to take care of oil paintbrushes"

    Important!
    How to dispose of turps and other chemicals?

    It is essential to know how to dispose of hazardous waste properly when you’re working with such materials. It is not only illegal to pour them into the sink or on the ground, but highly dangerous to the environment. 

    When you no longer intend to use your paints or solvents, make sure you either donate it to someone who would use it or take care of them properly. One way is to let the used turpentine or brush cleaner to sit in their container while the paint separates – the clear liquid can be reused, the remaining paint then poured onto an absorbent surface such as cat litter, saw dust or concrete. Let it completely dry and them put it in a fire-safe trash container.

    Next step is to find your local hazardous waste collection site:

    • https://www.gov.uk/hazardous-waste-disposal
    • http://www.williamtraceygroup.com/capabilities/special_hazardous_waste
    • http://www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/waste/special-waste/
    • https://www.biffa.co.uk/business-waste/where-we-operate/scotland/

    References:

    http://webartacademy.com/art/free-bonuses/The-Oil-Painting-Guide.pdf
    http://www.artistdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/HowToPaint_V3.pdf
    http://willkempartschool.com/glossary-for-oil-painting-terms-the-essential-guide-for-beginners/
    https://blog.udemy.com/oil-painting-techniques/
    http://www.thisland.illinois.edu/57ways/57ways_25.html

  • INTRODUCING ROYAL TALENS COBRA – THE WATER MIXABLE OIL PAINT

    What does water - mixable oil mean?

    Literally, it is possible to mix the Cobra oil series with water, without losing the properties of regular oil paints. Cobra oils contain the exact same materials as regular oil paints; the difference is that they are modified in order to mix with water.  Since they do contain oils, it is important to keep that in mind that they still can be mixed with turps and spirits as well, so when you’re using water you have to mix them little by little to enable the particles to mix well.

    (They can also be mixed with regular oil paints, but then they lose their ability to mix with water!)

     Why is Cobra good?

    Having a paint that has the same properties as traditional oil paints, but is also mixable with water has many advantages. Firstly, you don’t have to use harmful chemicals like turps and spirits, thus you don’t have to buy, carry and smell them in order to produce oil paintings. Secondly, since you’re only using water, it is safe to pour the remnants into the sink, making your life easier, as well as not having to worry about environmental damage.

    Thirdly, you don’t have to throw away your non-water soluble oil paints, as Cobra paints can be mixed with them.

    Get to know what artists think!

    Things to keep in mind with Cobra Solvent Free Oil Paint

     Artist and Study Quality

    Artist Quality
    Study Quality

    There are two types of the Cobra oil paints available – artist and study quality.

    The main difference between the two is that the artist quality paints consist of equal amount of pigments and binder, while study quality paints contain half of the amount of pigment with an additional material called extender. This way, it’s possible to create cheaper, but still good quality paint.

    Paint series

    You may also notice that the artist quality brand has 4 series that also have different prices. This is due to the fact that certain pigments are more difficult to get hold of, therefore their production costs are higher – it does not indicate that the more expensive colours are any better!

    The series numbers are indicated on the back of the tube!

    Mixing Colours

    Not surprisingly, the question whether Cobra oils and acrylics can be mixed may arise, and of course, both paints can be mixed with water! However, even though it is possible to mix them, it is not advised in the long run, as the drying process of water based paints is completely different to oil based paints. While acrylic paints remain flexible due to their plastic content, oil paints dry harder with age, resulting in cracking and other different damages of the painting.

    Cobra Painting Medium

    Building up a painting with the Cobra series works the same way as with regular oils – the principle of the “fat over lean” technique still applies. With this technique, you add your layers that should contain less and less solvent (water), which means more paint, thus more oil goes to the surface. However, if you don’t wish to use paint straight out of the tube for the last layer, or wish to have a very smooth effect, the Cobra Painting Medium is what you need.
    To make the fat over lean principle work, you will have to add more and more medium into the water you’re mixing with, this way the solvent will contain more oil even without adding very thick layers of paint.

    Glazing with Cobra

    Glazing is the application of a very transparent layer of paint on top of the others.

    The Cobra Glazing Medium is very similar to the Painting Medium, with the difference being that it doesn’t contain any water, so it is more flexible. The Glazing medium has to be applied directly out of the bottle to the last layer of the painting.

    Another possible way to use it is to put subtle colours into black and white paintings, by mixing the glazing medium with paint and applying it to the surface of the dried painting. This way the original brushstrokes remain untouched, and you can put on more colours or brush them off without affecting the finished painting.

    Cobra Odourless Spray Varnishes:

    Varnishes are applied in order to protect the painting from ageing as much as possible. It’s important to keep in mind that varnishing has to be done after at least a year has passed since the finishing of the work to allow the oils to dry properly.

    Other Properties of Cobra Oil Paints:

    Study Quality

    Artist Quality

    References:

  • Our easy and comprehensive guide to varnishes!

    All the things you need to know about varnishing your work

    Feeling confused about the endless array of different varnishing options available in art shops?

    Well don’t worry, we’re here to clarify things! Below you’ll find a comprehensive list that we’ve compiled which explains which varnish is best for which medium, what it does and what it can be used for.

    The main reasons to varnish a picture are to a) protect its surface from dust, dirt and any imperfections that may result on the picture surface and b) to leave your image with a glossy or matt sheen. What in fact you are doing by varnishing paint is closing the surface off to oxygen, thereby preventing it from oxidising and discolouring over time. In theory therefore, your paint should remain in the same condition it was when you varnished it.

    You can even mix matt and glossy varnishes to give lots of structure., but make sure you use the spray form though if you don't want to influence the painting, as a spray varnish does not influence the painting, the same way a brush on varnish does.

    We stock most of our varnishes in bottles of 75ml, 250ml and 1000ml, and also in a 400ml spray can. Glossy and matt finishes are fairly self explanatory, and a satin finish is somewhere in between the two. Whether you prefer a gloss, matt or satin finish is very much down to individual preferences, whilst remembering that a high gloss finish can end up quite reflective, and a matt finish won’t boost your colours like a gloss varnish will.

    We’ll go step-by-step through each medium that you’re looking to varnish over, starting with acrylics.

    ACRYLICS VARNISHESAcrylic Varnish

    If you’re working with acrylic paint, you’ll want an acrylic varnish! It’s important that you give yourself a flexible layer of varnish on top of your acrylics, otherwise you’ll find that the paint might begin to crack off if it adheres to a non-flexible varnish. We stock matt, satin, gloss and high gloss in our Amsterdam range for acrylic paintings. We also sell a varnish for our Amsterdam Deco paints, which are used for textiles, glass and porcelain. It’s worth noting that if you might want to remove your varnish later on, you can use a gel medium to form what’s known as an isolation coat – a permanent, protective barrier between the painting and the varnish.

    As the acrylic varnish has a "flexible" surface, they are also suitable for use on oil paintings

    PicVarnishOIL VARNISHES

    If you’re working with oil based products, we have several options depending on your preferences. Varnishes should technically only be used if the painting is completely dry. We have a standard synthetic picture varnish, dammar varnish, retouching varnish and our Cobra (solvent free ) varnish.

    • Our standard picture varnish is a synthetic form of a traditional varnish, and should only be applied when completely dry
    • Made from dammar resin, by dissolving resin in turpentine, dammar varnish is a traditional varnish used for hundreds of years. Watch out though as it can be prone to yellowing. cobra
    • Retouching varnish is used to bring out dull colours where the paint has sunk in, and provides temporary protection for paintings that are still drying.
    • Finally, our Cobra range of varnishes is more environmentally friendly, and less toxic to use as they correspond to our solvent-free range of Cobra products.

    All the oil varnishes have an "inflexible" surface and for that reason should only be used on top of oil paint.

    Why do I need to wait at least 6 months to a year before varnishing my oil painting?

    When your oil paintings is no longer wet on the outside and the inside, the drying process then transforms to an ageing one as the oxygen continues to combine with the oil paint.

    As varnish effectively closes the surface to the oxygen in the air,  the ageing process almost stops altogether. If the varnish was not present, this is process would eventually cause cracks in the surface of the paint (known as ageing). So you see, if you varnish too soon, it will never dry!

    OIL PASTEL, WATERCOLOUR, GOUACHE & OTHERS            wcvARNISH

    We have a specific varnish which is made for and named after each of these mediums. We also stock a clear lacquer which provides a durable and scratch-resistant layer for painted surfaces, but is for objects and furniture rather than paintings or pictures. Gum Arabic makes gouache more transparent and increases gloss and elasticity. GArabicOx gall prevents beading and improves the adhesion of water-based paints to their support.

    We also stock varnish removers which remove varnish from the brushes you are using. If you have any further questions, just pop in to us on Perth Road and we’ll do our best to help!

     

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