Do you learn something new every time you paint? I do. Maybe that means I have a lot to learn, or maybe this business of painting is just a deep thing to grasp. I have finished the portrait of Austin and have been waiting for it to dry so I could varnish it and photograph it. Not unlike many of my paintings there are places (mostly in the darks) that are sunken-in and are keeping me from getting a good photo of the painting. In fact, because this is a mostly dark painting, sinking-in has been an issue throughout the painting process. When I wanted to work a dark area, I just oiled-out the area with a thin veil of a 50/50 mix of stand oil and odorless turps and went on my merry way. Problem is, I wasn’t satisfied the first two times I worked some of the dark areas. The third time did the trick, but I had oiled-out these areas three times. Well, the oil is still tacky. It isn’t sagging, but it isn’t drying. The thought crossed my mind to through some Liquin across the whole thing, but thinking that seemed desperate, I decided to call the Gamblin hotline instead.
I have been on the Gamblin website several times and have found some very good information, but I have never actually called them on the phone. Guess what? A real person answered. Dave talked me down off the ledge of desperation, and we had a very interesting and informative discussion. Part of my sticky, slow drying problem is that I live in the very humid south. It is common to see 86% humidity and have it be that high in your house, too. Dave suggested that Galkyd might be a better product for me to use than the stand oil, since it dries by the next day and can be used exactly like I am working now (50/50 mix). Dave also suggested that when oiling-out, you should wipe off any excess with a clean, dry, lint free cloth to ensure the thinnest layer possible to revive the sunken-in pigment. I’m a little hesitant to do that, since I don’t want to purposely introduce the potential for more lint than I already fight. But, the point is a good one. Finally, Dave suggested that you should oil-out the entire painting before varnishing. In fact, he said you should oil-out in very thin applications as many time as it takes to produce an even surface sheen when dry. Only then will you be assured that the varnish will go on evenly.
So, I’m headed to oil-out my painting and be patient. This humidity is bound to let up …eventually.