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Paul's Blog



  • SummerSummer -
    edited April 6
    @PaulB ; Could this be slippery slope?  The paint just slipped down the mountains in that area?  Is the primer in that area slightly raised in sections?  Mountainous?  Geneva paint is thin after all.  It wouldn't take much of a ridge to bring about this evaporative shrinking effect.  I'd do what I could but keep a close eye on it.  Summer
  • This painting is dibond with gesso prime right?
  • PaulB

    Drying cracks. Drying cracks usually occur when portions of a paint film shrink as they dry, causing them to break into little "islands." Between the islands, the underlying layers of the painting structure are revealed; they are often a different color than the islands. Portions of an image with this problem are often described as "alligatored." English portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries frequently have extensive drying cracks caused by the once-popular use of asphaltum, a semi-translucent black material that produces a wonderfully rich, "deep" look — until it begins to age. Although alligatored paint can be very ugly and obtrusive, it is often well adhered and stable. Conservation treatment cannot eliminate drying cracks, but can make them much less distracting.

    I think the cause might be insufficient medium.


  • This painting is dibond with gesso prime right?
    I seem to remember that the primer is Rustoleum.
  • I have no clue what may cause this cracking to occur. Are you going to need to oil it out first?
    No need to oil out to temporarily restore colors, I have the original source.  Plus it's a leaf pattern, so variation in color is desirable, as long as it's close.
  • @movealonghome, @Summer, it's primed with exterior household latex primer, that white color that shows through.
  • @BOB73, you guessed it, this piece has been involved in several attempted murders.  
  • @dencal, I think you're right.  I leave paint on my (mostly covered) palette for weeks.  That would count as insufficient medium, when it starts to thicken.  Thanks!
  • edited April 9
    @PaulB ;

    I got a Richeson easel on sale similar to yours... big mistake as the DIY Carder is better. Now I have to re-sell it. I thought the Richeson would be more secure and better but it's not.

    A stretched canvas on 3/4" bars is far more secure with the two screws going into the back of it on the Carder easel than it is wedged between the rubber pieces on the Richeson. The top piece of the Richeson that presses down on the top of the canvas also casts a huge shadow over the top 3-4 inches of the canvas when the light is above it at a 40 degree angle. I guess this is common but with the Carder that's not a problem. On the Carder I can also paint the top and bottom sides of the canvas (I do this with all those flower paintings) whenever but that's not possible on the Richeson either. Very annoying!

    Does your dibond fit tightly in the grooves? I'm surprised the canvas doesn't fit tighter. 
  • PaulB

    Artristic invited you to call them and resolve this easel issue. Did that happen?


  • Does your dibond fit tightly in the grooves? I'm surprised the canvas doesn't fit tighter. 
    Not by default, but if you lay in a strip of foam weatherproofing in the two grooves, my 3mm panels are gripped solidly.  I can't use the plastic "feet" things at the back, because they are not positioned well for panels, and not being rubber they have no grip.

    I'm not surprised that any easel has inferior grip compared to screwing the painting to it.
  • dencal said:
    Artristic invited you to call them and resolve this easel issue. Did that happen?
    We exchanged a few emails, and I declined an updated replacement.  Artristic customer service is excellent.
  • Taking a Short Break

    Sometimes you need a little break, despite the deadlines.

    Matte vs Satin Varnish

    I bought Gamvar Gloss and Gamvar Satin retouch varnish.  I've never used these before, so it's time to experiment.  I took a painting that had been drying for six months, and varnished it using Gamvar Satin.

    While applying the varnish, the colors looked glorious instead of the inconsistent shiny and flat patches. When dry, the painting was very smooth, and all the surface of the painting was the same consistency.  Lovely.  But the blacks are not black, because the satin finish scatters light, and the blacks appear dark grey.

    After letting that dry for a week, I applied gloss varnish over the top.  My assumption is that because a satin finish is due to molecular surface topology, gloss over satin results in gloss.  It does.  Now the blacks are black again.

    I took pictures, but it is almost impossible to see the difference.  No point posting them.


    It's been 14 months of painting, so I decided to clean out my jars of solvents for the first time.  I didn't expect it to be, but this was an easy task.

    I have one of those stainless steel brush washing things, and it had OMS in it plus a year of gunk.  I poured off the clear OMS into a jar, then disassembled the thing.  The little basket was pretty clean, oddly enough, and just took a wiping down.  The bucket itself had a half centimetre or sludge in it.  I got this out with paper towels and a chop stick, then a rinse in fresh OMS and a wipe.

    My jar of brush dip had turned a very cloudy "I had a bad weekend" yellowish color and had some sludge also.  I had to discard about 1.5 cm of it, because the particulates hadn't settled at all.  Paper + chop stick and it was clean.

    The Gamsol jar was pretty clean anyway, and I don't use it much because of the Rosemary & Co ivory bristle warning.

    Now they are labelled also, because I don't want to get this wrong.

  • You didn't have them labeled before????!!!!   holy cow - that's a disaster waiting to happen at my house!  I have to keep them on separate tables because I dipped my brush in gamvar and not gamsol one day.  I have a few of those containers with the wire in them - I found that putting a screw in the bottom after pouring the clear top layer out and adding just a touch of what I poured back in and put the lid on and shake like crazy.  Voila - in seconds - clean!    Now, get back to work :)
  • Very good idea I just gleamed from your photo @PaulB ; - date stamp my Geneva paints,..I have not done this and have just reached for any tube in my draw, this is bad management on my behalf,...and a good tip from you,...
  • @alsart I think using up the older tubes first is a good idea.  But I did this to try and track how long they last.  Answer: long time, for me, but no real idea yet.
  • Wish I had something dirty to clean.
  • BOB73

    Don’t tempt me with a line like that.


  • Are you going to test how the satin + gloss varnish layers compare to one or two layers of gloss. I use Gamvar mixed with Gamsol (80/20% ratio) which helps with beading up and I think makes it less likely to be tacky even when done thinly.
  • @Richard_P, do you mean the tendency for Gamvar to sometimes bead on the paint surface? I've noticed that myself. I'll try the mixing with Gamsol trick.
  • Yes, it's recommended on Gamblin's page to help with beading up issues:

    What to do when varnish beads up

    1. Reduce the amount of Gamvar that is being applied to the painting. Blotting extra varnish off the brush onto a paper towel before applying is an excellent way to achieve this.
    2. Dilute the varnish with 10-20% Gamsol.
    3. Brush the varnish vigorously as it dries. Gamvar will begin to tack up in about 15 minutes. Continuing to brush after it begins to tack up may help it to adhere, but it will also reduce its level of gloss the longer you continue to brush it.
  • There's a good video made by gamblin showing how to use gamvar. it's really important to follow their instructions.. paint it on as thinly as possible. Gamvar is easy to remove with gamsol too which is cool. I had to do this after I messed up varnishing a painting
  • PaulBPaulB -
    edited April 22
    I made a Mahl stick out of scrap.  It's the type that hooks over the top of the painting, and the soft plywood means it shouldn't damage anything.  I'll try not to yank the painting off the easel.

    [This is where Richard says "OH NOOOO"]

    This is the very pinnacle of my woodworking skills.

  • The stick's background seems a real landscape.
  • Bobitaly said:
    The stick's background seems a real landscape.
    Putting a painting out of focus does wonders for its realism.
  • Did you read about how I made my own Mahl stick @PaulB?
  • Richard_P said:
    Did you read about how I made my own Mahl stick @PaulB?
    Yes, I did, it influenced mine. I wanted something with a softer hook than metal, because I'm going to be hanging it from composite panels, and I suspect a metal hook might ding it.
  • I suspect the plywood isn't as soft as you think it is and you will be putting more pressure on the stick than you think you will. It will be fine leaning on the easel though. You might consider putting a piece of pipe insulation over the end of the stick.
  • Good point @BOB73.  Thanks.
  • It has the added benefit of being soft and quiet if you drop it and won't startle the cat.
  • I had an idea.. Could you use the pipe insulation to protect all the edges and corners against any damage while painting/transporting? 
  • not until it's completely dry. Flat blocks of Styrofoam in a box would be better. but where can you get a pizza box that big?
  • For travel, it's just going to lay in the trunk of the car.  Probably on a blanket.
  • @PaulB said: "I'm always looking for decaying architecture in artistic light."

    Try Giza.
  • Every day it gets harder to get the lid off the liquin bottle.  I'm not weak or arthritic, but I really struggle with this bastard.  I can't imagine how bad it is for someone with joint pain.

    Is there such a thing as a replacement lid?  Anyone solved this problem?
  • dencaldencal -
    edited April 28

    Yep! Remove large dry lumps on screw thread and inside lid with small screwdriver or similar.
    Remove remainder with toweling soaked in alcohol or OMS solvent.
    Habitual wiping of the screw thread will avoid future problems.

    If it’s too far gone to clean, decant remainder to a new screw top.


  • STOP! Paul, handle no screwdrivers, blades or sharp objects till you finish the painting.
  • BOB73

    Chill Bob he is an engineer. Stabbing his hand with a screw driver won’t slow him down any.


  • I have to agree with @Bob73, find a child to help you..
  • We have engineers where I work. I used  to bowl with some of them but not anymore, they call them lefty and three-finger Fred now.
  • Wonderful colors, background, movement and attitude.  What a switch in style!  I like it.
  • Love it! So painterly. Texture, brushwork, composition, colour/value gradation all work great for me. There is something very refined about this.
  • You have unusual talent, Paul. I know we're not supposed to say that, but you have masterfully adapted the Mark Carder technique, and you are able to get your mind around incorporating different styles. I think that's talent.

  • Oh I love this!!!  My favorite part is her sleeve - I'm confused by the garlic? animal skin? bubbles over her shoulder. I wish that was gone - I need to learn to edit myself so I guess that is why I said to take it out completely.  Her silhouette would be beautiful with that thing over her shoulder gone.  I can't believe you're still painting after your marathon!  Great work @PaulB ;


  • Julianna said:
    Oh I love this!!!  My favorite part is her sleeve - I'm confused by the garlic? animal skin? bubbles over her shoulder. I wish that was gone - I need to learn to edit myself so I guess that is why I said to take it out completely.  Her silhouette would be beautiful with that thing over her shoulder gone.  I can't believe you're still painting after your marathon!  Great work @PaulB ;

    Ha ha @Julianna , it’s a string of brown onions. It’s a bit more defined in the original.
    I love this Paul.

  • I can see what you mean, @Julianna. Still, I don't think the composition would work as well if they weren't there. And it's a sort of abstract element that, to me, makes the painting all  the more interesting. 

    It's also fascinating how different folks see things differently. Just goes to show that there are no absolutes in art. :)
  • Here's what I was copying.  I was just trying to duplicate the picture with the same kind of brush strokes.  Sargent's onions are a lot more recognizable than mine.  The hair I found very difficult, as you can see.

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