Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oil colors and drying times - Part One - History

Back around 1950, I was moving up in my artistic skills when my father brought home a present of a pan of Winsor-Newton watercolors as I was a Boy Scout then and studying birds for a merit badge from Peterson's bird guide.   How very exciting to move up to real watercolors from Crayolas. (No insult to wax crayons as I still do detailed paintings in wax crayons - Caran d'Arche Neocolor 1. So I remember opening the tin and seeing the circular discs of vibrant color, especially the Vermilion, just the color of the Scarlet Tanager.  Back then, Vermilion was made from Mecuric Sulfide (HgS).  Toxic.

Back to the subject, I learned to paint in layers.  The watercolor would dry while I was raiding the refrigerator and then I could continue painting on top of the background.  Also, in about 1955, Dad came home with a set of very small oil paint tubes.  There was a small bottle of turpentine solvent so that I could thin the first layer of color into a fast drying background. Turpentine dries rapidly. About that time I enrolled in a Saturday morning painting class with Alfred J. Tulk, a muralist.  I felt a bit strange at 16 years old in a group of retirees but I lost my uneasiness when we setup in the field doing a landscapes.  I noticed that some of the dark colors dried very fast in the open air thinned with a bit of turpentine.  I later learned that the Umber family contained manganese which hastened drying time in and out of the tube.

This is an on site class painting from 1956 near the North Stamford Reservoir.  The darks in the stonewall were burnt umber and dried very fast so I could lay in the individual stones on top of it.

Part Two coming soon.

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