Friday, January 31, 2020

All about oils, part two

Picking up where we left off yesterday, here is part two of Allie Davidson's What Should I Use to Paint my Model? article. Thank you, Allie, Shane, Heather and Kimberly for rounding out the discussion on oil paints!

Shane Langbauer - Wiggle Workz
My medium of choice is oils, usually from the brands Rembrandt and Grumbacher Academy. I didn’t start out using oils, as I had always heard they were finicky and challenging, with a steep learning curve. The medium just sounded too intimidating! However, I always admired models finished in oil colors: they were bright and vibrant, with the most amazing buttery smooth shading and details. I remember stalking Jennifer Scott’s, Chris Flint’s, and Carol Williams’ studio pages and websites for little tips and tricks on how to use oil colors, which supplies to buy, and any little tidbit of information I could get my hands on. I collected all the tutorial books I could find, including Carol Williams’ Color Formulas and Techniques binder and Chris Flint’s painting guide. I studied these books closely, which helped me develop my own techniques for painting in oils. 
Covergirl resin painted by Shane Langbauer
One of my favorite traits of oil colors is their inherent vibrancy. The colors are intensely rich and can be easily mixed to create unique shades. This affords me an endless color palette, which also means I can start with just a few colors and end up creating any number of coat and marking shades. Additionally, oils can be subtly translucent, allowing the artist to add washes of color and achieve an incredible depth of hue. Another significant perk of oils is the ease of mixing in Pearl-Ex pigments for added sheen or color-shifting effect. The versatility of this medium is a principal reason it has become not only my favorite, but my standard practice. 
Tater medallion painted by Shane Langbauer
Despite their many advantages, and my own estimation that oils have created some of the hobby’s finest paint jobs, the reputation that initially made me hesitate to use them is generally justified. Oils do require patience during the learning curve, a tolerance for trial-and-error, and a degree of persistence. One of my earliest attempts with oils, during my real novice stage, was to paint a warm-shaded black Breyer stablemate: I envisioned this glorious black warmblood with high socks and tons of ermine spots. I prepped and primed the stablemate in red oxide primer, then just layered on the oil colors – much to my eventual chagrin. I ended up with brush strokes everywhere, patchy blending, and drying times that never seemed to end. I didn’t touch oil colors for months after that! Eventually, once I had decided I wanted to be a serious painter in the hobby, I started using oils to add fine shading and detail to my airbrushed customs, which worked much better for me as I got a “feel” for how they applied, blended and moved. As I grew more confident applying oils, I “graduated” to using them over airbrushed base coats. I now use oils almost exclusively, adding hints of powdered pigment for dimensionality here and there. 
Independence resin customized by Amanda Brock and painted by Shane Langbauer
Another problem many artists encounter with oils is their long drying time. Without a drying agent of some sort, you may be waiting weeks for a thin coat to fully cure. That can be somewhat prohibitive. Over time, I found that adding a small amount of drying agent, such as drying linseed oil, would let the paint fully cure within 24-48 hours, depending on the weather. Humid days in the summer would make the paint dry a bit more slowly, while dry winter days would result in quicker dry times. I found I could work with a 1-to-2 day drying time, especially when I was alternating between a few pieces simultaneously.
Reflective medallion painted by Shane Langbauer
I can’t imagine I will ever stop using oils, as they always yield the (in my opinion) perfect paint job – smooth, vibrant, detailed, and eye catching! They have helped me achieve uncountable live show championships, and even a NAN title. They’re also fun – and no ridiculously sensitive and breakable airbrush required! 

Heather Bullach - Equine Confections Studio
The number one thing I love about oils is the ability to work in both directions with value, not just light to dark as you do with pastels (which I used for nine years prior to my switch). They just seemed so much more intuitive to me than the slow building of pastels, where it was difficult to go backwards if you veered off course or got too dark.
Freddy resin painted by Heather Bullach
I also love not having to spray sealer between numerous layers. Oils are also fantastic for dapples and roans. I find it so much easier to be able to paint dapples on a coat color and work back and forth with darks and lights to build depth and contrast. Richness of color and blendability are also wonderful benefits. You may need a few coats to get full coverage, but you can start with a color that is close to the final coat color rather than building from the very lightest color present in the coat.
Whirlwind resin painted by Heather Bullach
Oils are definitely not without their challenges. Though far fewer layers are generally necessary, you must wait anywhere between a day to several days between each layer.  So each piece may take longer overall, but not necessarily longer working time. I typically have several models going at a time so that I can work on one while another is drying.  The application and blending can be tricky to get the hang of, but any medium is going to come with its learning curve.
Anise resin painted by Heather Bullach
My general process is to thin color with a bit of refined linseed oil, also adding a touch of cobalt drier or Galkyd to speed drying a bit. I apply paint in thin layers, smoothing a bit as I go, then gently buff over everything with a large, very soft, fluffy brush to smooth brush strokes and blend color. I allow color to dry and repeat until desired color is achieved. 
Takeshi medallion painted by Heather Bullach
The final layers are often much thinner applications, and only applied in necessary areas, for example shadows darkened a bit, highlights brightened, etc. vs a full layer of paint over everything. Once the final layer is dry and has sat for a good week or more, I seal with Testor’s Dull Coat and add detailing with acrylics. Acrylics over oils is often considered a no-no as oils don’t “dry” as much as they cure, but working in very, very thin layers drastically reduces any risk of cracking or lifting. I’ve had zero issues when making sure to use sealer as a buffer between the layers.

Kimberly Bleecker – Total Imagine Equine

I have been painting since the '70s and have used all sorts of mediums, but have found oils work best for me. I really want that "live" flesh look and oils glow. Also, I have found I can get the true results with them.  I do use acrylics on the hooves and white (except the roaning). I used to use oils on the hooves, but I get the same results with a water base and it's faster. 
Valentino resin painted by Kimberly Bleecker
Often people do not work with oils because they take longer to dry. Well, in my case, it can help to see the model with fresh eyes. Adding a drier to each mix of course helps. Also, I work on ten to eighteen models at a time. There is always something dry to work on. 
Rose Reiner resin painted by Kimberly Bleecker
There are some colors that require six or more layers. I sand each layer to be sure there are no brush strokes. (Allie:  I want to interject here so people understand this comment about sanding because on Kimberly’s recommendation, I do it now too, but I usually sand only once after about the 3rd layer.  By sanding, she means micro-sanding with very very fine sandpaper.  I usually use 800 grit and go very lightly.  This removes any paint marks and lint.  Yes you will scuff your finish, but after a few layers, any scuff marks are covered, and sometimes are covered in one layer). It ruins the finish, but it will be painted over. Layers are thin. Different types of brushes and the way to use them helps. I do ruin brushes. Even the ruined brushes have their use. 
Uppenovah resin painted by Kimberly Bleecker
Another down side of oils is that they can be pricey. Also, one cannot find all the colors you need made by one company. I use oils on all scales, including micros. If one is not in a rush, oils might work well for you.

Thanks again, Allie, Shane, Heather and Kimberly. We'll discuss pastels in the next post!

No comments:

Post a Comment