Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Painting with Oils

Before I start a quick hello to a new reader Joppy, who is soon to retire in January 2012. I hope you'll be making some wooden warriors of your own during retirement, and willing to discuss them here. Welcome.

Today's entry is a guest blog entry of a sort. It was actually a post on the Wargaming on a Budget forum on Yahoo and reader and internet buddy Jim Walton thought it was so good that he thought it should be preserved. So here are the collection of posts from Otto, a.k.a. nemopholist.

To put in context, Matt Kirkhart started by showing new pictures of his 28mm Romans he is building for a new project. Eric asked some questions about paints, painting, and other hobby tricks, to which Matt responded. At some point I added a few remarks about the paint I use (and don't use), plus a particular problem I had "solved" of late of getting a nice, strong yellow on top of a dark blue. At that point Otto spoke up:
Dear Dale,
Use tube oils like I do. They are much better to work with, much better coverage, more durable, and for what you get-- very cheap. True, some of the more oddball shades can cost $15 a tube, but you'll have it forever. I don't think I've gone through one tube (except black and withe) in the 30 years and thousands of minis I've painted.
Takes a week or two to dry though.
However, I have 7years War troops I painted 35 years ago and they are as vibrant and bright as they were when new, and much less chipped or worn.
Now, I actually have a little experience with oils, and it wasn't good, mostly because I cannot tolerate the smells of the various oils and chemicals that go along with it. It also did not help that at the time I lived in Florida (USA), which is a high humidity environment, which is not very conducive to fast drying times with oils!

When Jim asked Otto about acrylics, his response was:
Don't like Acrylics.
They dont have a tenth of the durability of oils, and they react with the lead and oils of the paint and your hands to get shabby and drab.
Oils will also form a moderately good barrier against oxidation, which acrylics will not.
Jim then asked the questions:
Do you have a measured way of thinning them before use and what do you use, turpentine? I say "measured" meaning that you can pretty much depend on a particular amount working for most colors, or do you do it "by eye"? Can you store them once you've mixed them?
To which the reply came:
Dear Jim
Yes to all. Now having said that let me talk out of the other side of my mouth.
Grumbacher oils (though you can use any company, they are pretty much the same) can be thinned with a variety of media- paint thinner, mineral spirits (not always the same thing) or linseed oil. Each chemical does certain things to the paint and can achieve a certain effect. Linseed oil for example radically exponentiates the drying time but it provides the hardest and most durable product I've ever seen. It sets almost, (in my experience) to a hard glass-like finish. Turpentine will be easier to work with and allow faster drying and it will also "matte down" the surface. Mineral spirits and paint thinner the same, but be careful, some paint thinners are really paint cleaner and pretty much wreck the paint.
I have pre-mixed and pre-measured oil paints and they store quite well provided you have small plastic vials to do so. Make sure they are air-tight. You can store them mixed with any of the media above though you may have to stir them up after long use as the thinning agents tend to pool at the top.
What I mostly do is take several thickness of ordinary newspaper, especially from the advertisement sections where they have a lot of paper without ink on it. and use that. I squirt out a teensy bit of paint (you will be surprised how much a little goes a long way) and then thin it on the paper pad with the thinner (whatever you wish). The paper absorbs some of the oil and "mattes it down." Alternatively you can use old bottle caps from soda, iced tea, milk, fruit juice bottles, or jars which make excellent paint trays. Toss some newsprint in there and you have an impermeable base to keep the thinner off your wife's dining room table or the like. (Better yet, do it on an old scrap piece of wood in the cellar.)
I use a general color wheel to get the shade, tint, and tone I want and then mix as I go along. If I am running out, I simply squirt a little more on the paper and mix more till I get the same homogenous tone. The key is a good eye in estimating how much paint you will need to cover a batch of figures. When I first started out, being used to bottled paints, I mixed huge batches. Now I tend to radically under-mix. When I'm finished with a painting session I leave the slip of newspaper with the last color on it as a sample in a small box for future matching.
The MOST essential part of this whole thing I have found is not the paint, not the brushes, not the thinner, but the process. What I do is get the empty boxes of computer paper from work, that is boxes from whom the computer forms were offloaded to a printer and box discarded. What I do is take the box and lid home and put the BOTTOM of the box in the upside down lid, mark the box, and then cut away the excess above the line, leaving a tray which fits inside the lid. This forms a "drying box" which I can use to place one project, close the lid and go on to another project, doing the same and letting the boxes stack up. Thus I can have a dozen units going at once and simply rotate through them doing more when I get to it. Thus with about 8 boxes I can keep continuously working on something.
Another way to store the paint papers with a worthwhile smidgen of paint on them is simple zip-lock sandwich bags with the lid of a small gift box or pill box overturned on top of the pile of paint.
It's not for everyone, but I like the fact that since I mix my own colors I can vary the intensity from a brilliant vibrant color to a washed out pale.
Well there you have it, preserved for all time. I hope you find it useful, as Jim did.

1 comment:

  1. I can't see myself shifting from Acrylics, but that is the best argument I've ever seen for oils.




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