Sunday, July 22, 2012


My Fastmatte Palette
This summer, I am field testing a set of colors from Gamblin called FASTMATTE, made with Alkyd resin and linseed oil.  Why?  Well, when my sap green takes a week to dry in Hawaii, I know that change needed.  At the very least, a little medium added to my oils.  But what if I go even farther and use alkyd-based paints?  They would be compatible with my oils, yet dry faster.  I could slow the drying if I want.  I can change the surface quality by using a varnish, if I want.  And it would be nice to try something that dries a little faster when I am travelling.

So, why not go to Acrylic?  That dries too fast for me.  I like to push one color into another, wet into wet.  I have watched acrylic painters struggle with drying on their palette, and I don't want any part of that.  For me, the obvious choice is to try an alkyd.

It isn't that big a step.  I almost always travel with an alkyd white.  Most paint manufacturers make this with a mixture of drying oil and alkyd resin, in some undisclosed balance.  The alkyd white assists most of my colors in drying just a little faster than they might with a white made only with oil.  Since Gamblin, who makes most of the oil colors I use, came out this year with a full line of alkyd paints, it seems only reasonable to give them a try.

Oregon Coast, rainy weather, 50 degrees.

Okay, I'm not really giving it a rainy weather test here.  It is pouring outside and windy.  I am sitting in my van with the sliding door open, painting in/outdoors.  Plenty of humidity, but I have heated up the van interior, so it is probably 68 in here.

The medium I am using is 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol.  I use it in small amounts to thin the paint on my palette.  Most of the colors come out of the tube in a relatively thick paste, pushing me to use more medium than I ordinarily do.  Paint consistency is largely a matter of preference.  Mine leans toward the butter on a warm day.  I particularly dislike peanut butter consistency, and a couple of these colors approach that.  The medium thins them just fine.

I am happily painting along when I discover that the more medium I use, the faster the paint becomes planted on the palette.  It reminds me of building sand castles.  You know how you take your bucket down to the waves, fill it with a mix of water and sand, and carry it back to the castle?  You can then dribble sand on the castle all you want, and it will remain semi-liquid.  But the minute that sand hits the mass of sand you are building on, all the fluidity goes out of it, and you are left with dry-ish sand that you can only move if you add more water.  Clearly, I am going to have to make some adjustments, either to how I paint, or to the medium, if I want to be able to push my colors around.  Next field test, I will try a different medium.

FASTMATTE with 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol:
Fast drying?  Yes, very.  Matte?  Yes, very.  Colors push into other colors?  Only when I am very quick.  

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