How to have an even sheen on the surface of your oil painting without using varnish.

unevenexample

Example of the uneven sheen on an oil painting.

To remedy this problem you do what is called “Oiling Out”.

Oiling out will accomplish two things:

  1. It will make the colors appear more saturated
  2. Even out the surface shine.

You CAN do the same thing with a coat of varnish.  But there are advantages to oiling out vs. Varnish:

  1. Varnish can be removed, it does not meld with the oil paint as an oiling out would.
  2. The oil is absorbed into the oil paint itself and becomes part of the whole.
  3. It can be accomplished as soon as the painting surface is dry to the touch. Whereas a varnish seals the surface in such a way that the painting must be completely dry all the way through, or it can create problems. So unless you paint very thin it can takes months for the painting to dry enough to apply a coat of varnish.
  4. You can also continue painting over the oiling out layer, where with varnish this is not suggested.

So how do you do it?

Supplies:

  • Lint free cloth such as cheesecloth
  • 1″ Flat Paintbrush
  • Mixture of either oiling mixture: 50% Artist Medium + 50% Mineral Spirits or, 80% Stand Oil + 20% Turpentine.

Process:

  • Dust off the surface of the painting with a soft lint free cloth
  • Apply the oiling mixture generously with the paintbrush, making sure to cover the entire surface of the piece.
oilon

Applying The Oiling Out Mixture

  • Let it set for 2-3 minutes to allow the oil to absorb a bit.
  • Wipe off the excess with a clean soft lint-free cloth (Such as cheesecloth)
wipe

Wiping Off The Excess

  • Place the painting in a clean dust free environment to dry, just as you would any oil painting in progress.
evenshine

An example of the sheen after performing the “Oiling Out”.

Part Five – Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Part Four – Facial Proportions

Part Three – Palettes

Part Two –  Mediums

Part One – Materials

mediumsMediums used with oils modify the character of the paint.  I personally like to not have my paint dry too quickly, unless it is an underpainting, and with a medium I have more control over this factor. I prefer to work wet-in-wet whether I return to the canvas an hour later or twenty-four.

Linseed Oil – Made from the flax plant it is the binder used in most oil paints.  There are a number of different types due to consistency, color and drying time.

  • Refined – An all purpose medium.
  • Cold Pressed – Dries a little faster than refined and is considered to be of better quality than Refined.
  • Stand Oil – Thicker with a slower dry time, to touch in one week.
  • Sun Thickened – Syrupy version thickened by leaving a slightly open container of Linseed Oil in the sun (Is actually a bit more complicated than that, but for our purposes here….)

Safflower Oil – Dries faster than Poppyseed Oil but similar characteristics.

Walnut Oil – A thin oil it makes the paint more fluid.  Dries in 4-5 days.  It also yellows less than Linseed Oil

Turpentine – Can be mixed 50/50 with Linseed Oil for a medium. Use an artist grade quality and not household.  Can be purchased in low-odor varieties.

There are a number of other mediums for oil paint, enough for a book. It is all a matter of personal choice.  The point is this is another area that an artist can gain control.

Painting In Oil – Part One

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