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having a difficult time with Geneva paints

I just can't seem to get the hang of it.  Been using for a couple of months, but when I want to adjust or blend it just lifts up the paint underneath.    Paints seem so thin that I struggle to get coverage.  the few I have completed are spotty and took weeks and weeks to dry.  Thinking of giving up, it was a lot of money to spend and feel defeated.


  • They have been a learning curve for me as well. I switched from heavy body acrylics to Geneva oils.
    I thought them very thin on my first painting because the are so fluid. And had trouble with coverage.
    One thing I suggest doing is priming you canvas (if you haven't been) starting on a non white canvas helps a lot. 
    If your brush is not loaded with enough paint then you will just pick up and remove paint already layed down. 
    They do take awhile to dry, however I am not sure why yours are taking weeks, perhaps the temperature of the room? 

    I paint in my basement and it's fairly cool, after painting first layer in a week or less mine is dry to the touch. It does however take longer for it to actually cloud over.

    I hate to see anyone give up especially so since these are high quality, high pigment and non toxic.... but I do understand the frustration and discouragement.... 
     Can you post a picture of one of your paintings so we can see what might help.... sometimes hearing from others can lift your spirits.

  • I mix my geneva paints with Winsor and Newton artists oils. It gives it just enough coverage with the buttery feel. It also dries to my liking which is a little less than a week. 
  • First, leave the paint out.  It takes forever to dry, as you have seen, and thats a good thing.  Leave it out and let it thicken up.  I have paint that is weeks out of the tube, only refrigerated, and still in use.  It stays creamy but sticks and covers better.  Some times i add a little Geneva to loosen it back up.
    Second, do as @MeganS does.  I do too.  When i need it thicker now, i mix it with tube paint.
    Third, stain your canvas a similar color.  So if your background will be green, stain it with green tinted gesso.  Same for blue or red etc.  Its a major time saver for me and the depth of color is wonderful. This is different from what Mark teaches.  Mark stains with a relatively dark, alykyd based, burnt umber and it works for almost everything.  Some things need two coats.  I prefer gesso because it takes paint better and the paint dries faster.
    Fourth, paint thin, even coats.  Be careful to avoid ridges of paint.  Feather your edges.  If you do the above, you will get coverage, and if you paint with thin coats, it will dry quicker.  The paint is packed with pigment so you can get away with it.
    Its a method.  The whole approach is a single thing.  You have to think of the paint and the way Mark paints as one thing with lots of little bits.

  • @marylee I have struggled with Geneva as well.  In my case I think it is a lack of experience and skill.  The feel of the paint on the palette is delicious, but as you said, I can't seem to cover or blend well.  So, I take a break and switch back to W/N for a while, then try again.  Luckily I have a 10 year old daughter who likes to paint with me, so we hit the acrylics from time to time.... a nice change up.  
    Don't get discouraged, try some of the advice above (which I am going to try as well), and keep painting.  
  • I admit, I love Geneve paint because I need all the aspects it has for my paintings... it is perfectly made for DMP technique... blending is a very difficult thing to me with any brand of paint... I never really got the right technique...
  • thank you all, that is some very good advice.  I'm going to start mixing in the tube paint and see if I can get the results I want.  At first I loved the feeling of the paints, then trying to work it into my style of painting was very disappointing.   Going to try again, thanks.
  • The original Geneva paint was even thinner apparently..
  • Folks

    This is a quick fix but no doubt offensive to the Geneva purists

    Winsor & Newton Liquin Oleopasto Medium is a semi matt, quick drying, non-yellowing impasto medium which adds body and levels slightly. Thickens rapidly and extends tube colour. Speeds drying (touch dry in 1-6 days depending on colour & film thickness). Suitable for impasto & texture work. Resists yellowing. Not suitable as a varnish or final coat.


  • @dencal thank for that info very interesting, but what do you mean by final coat? Can it not be added last to an area of painting for extra textures?
  • jswartzart

    I have been guilty of the bad idea of coating a touch dry oil painting with Liquin, instead of linseed oil.
    This had the effect of 'oiling out' to bring back the sunken colors and providing a tough protective coat.
    But it contravenes the iron law of fat over lean and may bind with the oil paint and be unremoveable.

    This is the sense in which the "final coat" is used.


  • I've been using Geneva paints now for 18 months. Only very rarely do I need to use a bit of some other color. I bought the paints when they were in jars, and still have these. My blue is VERY watery, and the brown very thick. I had trouble getting the yellow to cover, but for some reason I seem to have adjusted the way I paint so that everything seems to work. I don't do much blending, but when I do, I don't have the lifting problem you mention.  I love the paints, but never did a lot of painting with other brands. I'd say stick with it if you can - the lack of fumes is very well worth giving them a really good try.

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