SDM Questions

I have all the potions to make SDM, except the Venetian Oil.  In Mark's prescriptions there are 3 recipes.  One for most colors, and one each for (I think) Ultramarine Blue, and Burnt Umber.

I have two questions.  One is whether people who want to follow Mark's advice as closely as possible, are using the 3 formulas, as he describes, them and finding they all work well if one simply ignores the Venetian Oil?  No other changes.  I realize people are trying all manner of formulas, but what about when sticking to the script, except for the Venetian oil?

While I am mostly thinking of color mixing from the palette Mark suggests, has anyone figured out whether there are actually only 3 formulas or if one used say a split primary palette, could it end up that many colors also had to have a special formula of SDM?  I would like to try a painting using the Zorn palette (Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre, Black, Ti White).  Those are 2 colors Mark does not use.  Will they most likely behave normally once SDM is added, or should one not be surprised if each new color is a rule of it's own.  I will just give it a try and see what happens, but it did occur to me that SDM only worked with 60% of the colors Mark tried it with in his palette...


  • dencaldencal -
    edited November 2019

    Welcome to the Forum.

    Here is the recipe from Mark’s Draw Mix Paint website.

    medium recipes

    There are currently no mediums on the market that slow the drying rate of oil paint adequately, so you will need to make it yourself.

    recipe for slow-dry medium (for all colors except titanium white):

    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits (any artist-grade odorless mineral spirits will do)
    • 5 parts stand oil or linseed stand oil (this is viscous like honey and is not the same as refined linseed oil)
    • 1 part refined linseed oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine *
    • 2 parts oil of cloves †

    For burnt umber, you will need extra clove oil. Please watch this video for instructions on how to incorporate the extra clove oil into burnt umber:

    recipe for slow-dry medium for titanium white:

    • 10 parts odorless mineral spirits
    • 1 part stand oil or linseed stand oil
    • 5 parts refined linseed oil
    • 5 parts Venice turpentine *

    Venice turpentine is not at all the same as what is commonly known as "turpentine", a solvent commonly used by artists many years ago (and still used by some artists today). Venice turpentine, on the other hand, is simply tree sap — a thick resin which is thick like honey.

    † Oil of cloves is sold as "clove leaf oil", "clove bud oil", or simply "clove oil" — any of these forms is fine. You may try looking for it in drug stores, health food stores, or from an online supplier.

    Here is a video tutorial on mixing paint with medium:

    If you omit VT the paint behaviour, brush feel, surface finish and consistency will vary from that demonstrated by Mark.

    If you let me know which city you are in I’ll try to find a source of VT.

    Suggest sticking to the script for a half dozen still life paintings, variations can then proceed from an informed basis, knowing how things work and what it should look like.


  • CJDCJD -
    edited November 2019
    I think you can just omit the VT. It's not worth the trouble. Venice Turpentine and other natural resins aren't ideal for use in oil paint to begin with. See more here

    Here's another quote from George O'Hanlon "genuine Venice turpentine does not "dry", but remains a soft, resinous substance in the paint film (this is not a good thing for the longevity and strength of the paint film). It is typically used as a plasticizer in oil paint, but you should restrict its use by volume, to small passages and only when needed. It is not recommended in general usage. Also, keep in mind there is much factitious Venice turpentine on the market that is not a resin derived from European larch, but rather pine colophony in turpentine."
  • edited November 2019
    Which black? There are several pigment types.

    In my testing Yellow Ochres (without clove oil) and when mixed with walnut oil and stored in the dark dry quite quickly, but slower than red or black iron oxides (or burnt umber). I have used clove oil with it and other paints and had no problem with it drying, so I think it would be fine with the general purpose mix.
  • Thanks for the information, all.  Seems as though there are different approaches, and I may just launch into some tests.  I should really take my own advice on finishes (mostly from the wood and metal working side of things).  That advice is that it is often better to just run some test swatches than ask for advice.  But then, those are simple finishing situations compared to painting, and the advice is much appreciated.

    I am outside Toronto as far as finding VT is concerned.

    Zorn palette wise, I find the selection of a black rather difficult in that I am not getting the mix effects reported in many online Zorn palette discussions.  The blacks I have on hand, and that I have purchased for this experiment, seem to be pretty straight forward in simply darkening colours and not suggesting the third primary. 

    I am by no means wedded to the Zorn palette.  I just have one subject where I think it might be rather nice, but I may be better off just mixing the colours I see, rather than letting the limitations of the palette impose a certain colour harmony.
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  • CJDCJD -
    edited November 2019
    Kama pigments in Montreal has some other supplies that may not be available elsewhere. They ship too. Articulations is where I order lots of stuff from as they're the only shop in Canada that sells Rublev/Natural Pigment products.

    If you want to try VT I can send you mine. I have most of a jar left over I'll never use ( i got it from Kama pigments)
  • @TamDeal Mark Carder actually uses imitation Venice turpentine. The brand most available in North America is SHIVA.

    As far as the SDM formulas go there are just two. one for the Titanium White because it is so thick and opaque and one for all the other colors. Student grade paints won't need as much SDM as premium colors.. but still follow Mark's advice in the videos but you have to experiment to get the right consistency. Burnt Umber, ochres, and oxides will need extra clove oil. there is not a specific amount of SDM to add to each color. The colors all behave differently some will get thicker or thinner over the next several hours after mixing but Mark talks about that in the video.

    The admonitions against VT are based mainly on the prevalent practice in years past to thin oils with VT or cases where it is just over-used. the minute amounts that go into Mark's formula won't harm the longevity or stability of the paint film.

    I like to add yellow ochre to my pallet for landscapes. It's a good shortcut to mixing earth tones. So don't feel like you are violating a trust. 

    @KaustavM is the expert on the Zorn pallet.    GOOD LUCK
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