Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Perfect Medium (for me)

What medium did Rubens use? We will never know. After trying every medium I could, except for copal, I always return to Maroger. However I could never reconcile the fact that black oil was too dark to use for the higher keys in my palette. I could use a lighter drying oil like walnut or safflower (as most whites are composed of) but they were too unpleasant to use for the general palette.
I began washing flaxseed oil and sun-bleaching it until it was water clear. The color seemed to be better in the lighter hues and the whites looked very bright. I could grind my whole palette now with one oil, but it was missing that black oil special feeling and it took much longer to dry.
I then thought to cook the water clear oil with litharge similar to making black oil. I bounced the heat for at least 5 hours and the oil only got slightly darker but still much lighter than cold-pressed linseed oil. After letting the cooked oil sit for a couple of days I tried to make some Maroger. It got stiff but didn't completely gel. I put some in a jar and to my surprise a week later it became thixotropic! The resulting medium is a very light similar to Liquin or other neo-megilps but much more transparent. Now I can gring my paint and make my medium with the same, stable drying oil.
Pictured Above: Traditional Black Oil, New Oil, Washed and Bleached uncooked oil (Water Clear), New Medium, Maroger.


Anonymous said...

Why not just buy Old Master's Maroger? It is amazing, and you don't have to expose yourself to such toxic alchemy.

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is
also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,

The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.