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How the heck do you think Lipking does this?

It's SO soft. the colors are perfectly realistic. Just the most beautiful portrait, IMO. Any thoughts? Smooth canvas? Paint loaded with medium or not? Did he do the whole thing with super soft sable brushes?

[Deleted User]Leo2015Jiashenrautchetan[Deleted User]


  • It's not smooth canvas judging by the prominent thread weaves (which actually seems to help with blending as it grips more paint). I'd say super soft brushwork once the main planes were blocked in?
  • Maybe but only maybe, put the paint on the canvas spread it on the surface than with a soft clean brush pass over the paint, do that all the time. It could be a good exercise try to copy this.
  • Denis - I have read that, but I think his technique differs somewhat for his alla prima paintings. The one in this workshop didn't end up nearly as soft as this one of his daughter. Maybe he uses the same canvas and palette though....
  • I think the canvas has to be smoother than the ones I use though. I just use off the shelf cotton canvas, and I don't put any additional gesso on it or sand it. I can see my canvas texture much more easily than I can detect his....unless he uses a ton of paint, but it doesn't look thickly painted to me. He probably uses linen too - is that much finer "grain" than cotton? I've never used linen.
  • Hez

    Lipking used New Tradition art panels for that session. These are lead or Alkyd primed linens.

    However, I agree with Bob, the softness here is a light stroking of the edges with a soft, clean brush.


  • Lipking keeps very secret the fact that he uses a Mark Carder color checker and I'm sure @Bobitaly is right abut the soft clean brush. So with a color checker and a soft clean brush we can all achieve the same results it just takes time to practice.
  • edited May 2018
    Most painters today of Lipkings caliber all use linen canvas. He seems to be working in the classical realist style. You can find a lot about this style on this site in which I believe Jeremy is also a member.
  • This guy is also pretty popular among realist artists today. 

  • Leo - Yes, that's lovely. I'll have to watch that video. Not sure who that is from this still shot.
    Why do you think blending the next day might be important?  I think I'm using the wrong paint for that. Mine is pretty dry by the next day - even if I use stand oil/turps as a medium, or use the paint straight. I use Lukas brand, sold by Jerry's Artarama. I really like it because it's not stiff at all, but it does really dry fast.  I purchased some lead white from some other brand and that dries fast too. In fact, of all the paint brands I've ever used, I've never owned one that is still wet enough to blend the next day. Maybe it's the medium I use.  The color checker is something I think would be really useful - Just have to decide to spend the money (Or the time to make one).Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

  • Oh, Cesar Santos. I have seen some of his work online in my search for classical realism. He's fantastic, of course.
  • edited May 2018
    That's odd, most of my mixtures using white wont dry for days. Since most of the stuff I'm doing now are small sized studies, I'm sticking to inexpensive colors. Occasionally I might get a color by Winsor and Newton, or some other better quality brand, but for now I'm ok with these. I haven't experienced what you are describing and I'm not sure why they recommend blending so many hours later. Many artists working in traditional styles like David Laffel, among many others, use Maroger medium, but this medium tends to dry fast. I was at some museum years ago and I saw a painting that one would swear was an "old master" painting. It was actually a painting by Laffel. I was stunned. I have no clue what kind of medium painters like Lipking are using. 
  • Well, I use what Richard Schmid recommends in his book: damar, turps and stand oil. But I do think the Lukas paints in particular claim to dry fast. Not sure what's up with my other paints. 
  • That's because the teachers in those ateliers are extremely demanding. They expect the very best from every student. They base their entire program on the old french art schools of the 19th century. 
  • It is good that the modern masters also have the ability to surprise their viewers. With regular oil paints it's important to have canvas texture to blend properly. There are many ways to blend.
    1. After painting the values take a giant clean flar brush and gently swipe over the painting once or twice. This will blend the rough marks and create movement.
    2. Use soft sable or nylon brushes for glazing thinly or slightly thickly to achive precision. After the painting is done blend the edges.
    3. After painting the values leave it for a day or two for the paint to harden a little and then blend the edges with a clean brush.
  • I think I'll have to get a nice medium to big sable brush, I do have one, but it must be poor quality, or not really true sable or something because once I put it in turps (or maybe it was the mineral spirits or the oil) it was never the same. Can't get it soft and fluffy again, no matter how much I wash it. My other two sables are great, but small. 
  • Hey @hez we have really good and expensive sable brush one of 40mm and another larger my brother use for varnish instruments so I had the opportunity to see and try them and to confront how the fibers a little suggestion if u want to try something similar in softness are the big brush women use for the face, I think they are similar in softness and can be used for blurring, the only difference is of course in the retain and release of paint..but of course if u don't use them for painting the result should be similar!
  • @Bobitaly. that's right about those cosmetic "mop" brushes but keep them dry and for blending only. The cheap ones work just as well as the expensive ones. To clean I just bush them on sandpaper. That keeps the tips feather-soft. @hez, clean that brush with murphy oil soap, it might help but then work the bristles as it dries. @movealonghome that's not Caesar, it's Jackson Pollock. Don't pay attention to the toddlers, he's just imagining them.
  • Folks

    The Lipking note link above mentions the use of mineral spirits in the lean lay in stages.
    Also mentioned is the use of walnut oil or poppy oil to prevent sinking and to present better if the audience is taking photographs. Disconcertingly mentioned is the use of retouch varnish during the painting process.

    On the blending brush issue. I am quite happily using a clean, dry pig bristle to soften an edge.

  • I will definitely have to try the cosmetic brushes. THat's an awesome idea! Never heard of that. Sandpaper, too!   I'm not sure what pig bristle is like - I'll look into it! Thanks!
  • HOG bristles will be easier to find
  • @dencal, retouch varnish? don't many artists add varnish to their mediums like the Maroger medium?
  • @Bob73, it's not recommended to add varnish to mediums.
  • Folks

    Richard is right. Have a look at this MITRA extract.

    This use of isolation varnishes in oil painting should be discouraged for a number of reasons. First, it is generally a bad idea to reduce the mechanical tooth of a paint layer, which could promote delamination or flaking of the superimposed layer. 

    Second, adding the varnish layer between paint layers will introduce an unnecessary solubility issue. Even if it is covered by additional oil layers, the varnish could be attacked and undercut during a restoration campaign resulting in the loss of all subsequent layers. For instance, a layer of natural resin between paint layers will create a paint stratigraphy that is sensitive to hydrocarbon solvents, even those containing a low proportion of aromatics. A layer of shellac between oil paint layers introduces a sensitivity to alcohols, etc.

    Additionally, the use of varnish interlayers creates a more complicated paint stratigraphy. We know from examination of historical paintings that the more complicated the stratigraphy, the more likely there will be some failure in the future. This does not mean that one has to create paintings in only a few layers, but you should aim to use as few layers as is necessary to create the desired effect. 

    The varnish interlayer will also respond in a different manner to movement of the substrate than will the paint layers below and above it. It will also age differently. The flexibility of the varnish may change drastically over time making it less flexible than the layers that it is covering. Etc, etc. So, for the above reasons, and likely many that I am not thinking of at the moment, it is really best to avoid the use of isolating varnishes in oil painting.  


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