Oiling out a painting

I’ve asked questions in other posts about oiling out paintings before varnishing.  I’ve got yet another question but I thought it best to start a thread on this topic.
My question is ... Has anyone noticed that titanium white tends to repel oiling out and even in some small bits repel Gamvar varnish?  
I use a clean micro fiber cloth with a small amount enough to oil the surface without leaving any excess.  I also see in Dione cases sunken burnt umber takes multiple oiling to oil out.
Any comments or help is appreciated.



  • Good question!
     I have not had these challenges with titanium white so far. However I do paint with a "resin-oil" color titanium white, it in fact does repel oil in oiling out and absolutely resists varnish over it. I now only use minute amounts of it mixed with regular oil titanium white with lead white. I don't know yet if this will make a difference, but my research so far indicates it's ok. I now rarely use titanium white without mixing a generous amount of lead white, 30/70, 50/50 mix or less mainly. 
     And yes I often have to go over the burnt umber areas twice in oiling out. I'm avoiding burnt umber, it's not a necessary pigment on the palette as I can mix a better one from my 3 primaries without the challenges that a manufactured burnt umber gives me. I now like having transparent brown iron oxide PR101 for help in this area as well.
  • @Forgiveness that’s interesting.  I avoid lead white because of the lead. I may have to reconsider that.
  • You may have 'polished' the paint too much in oiling out. A second coat should it. If you are oiling out to unflatten the paint be very gentle. Use clean cotton cloth not microfiber. If you are oiling in to open dried paint use a brush and wipe excess off leaving a bit of oil on the surface. I use W&N Painting medium for both. 
    There is a spray varnish, Krylon Kamvar, which brightens the paint and allows you to continue painting. I use it a lot. It is not varnish by the same as Gamvar a synthetic.

    I did a couple of paintings on illustration board a couple of years ago which I sealed with acrylic matte medium. No sunken color. I have no idea why.
  • Folks

    For all these oiling out tasks use a linen cloth. Cotton fabric sheds fibre and can create a mess on an oil painting.

  • dencal said:

    For all these oiling out tasks use a linen cloth. Cotton fabric sheds fibre and can create a mess on an oil painting.

    Linen as in canvas linen, or linen as in like a formal napkin that is called linen but is pretty much made of polyester these days.
  • Dustin_Cropsboy

    Napkin style linen. Polyester linen blends will just improve the flexibility without adding fluff.
  • I don’t find oiling out necessary when the painting is finished- I just let it dry for a few months (preferably 6 but I don’t do much thick impasto painting- if you do then you may want to wait even longer if possible). After the painting is dry I apply several thin coats of aerosol gloss varnish and the color pops. I do oil out during the painting if I’ve let it sit a few days and areas are flat. Just be sure the painting is dry to the touch before oiling out!
  • edited April 2021
    I haven't noticed that with titanium white, @GTO. And I've never needed to oil out titanium white. Not sure what's going on for you there.  But burnt umber certainly needs a good oiling out, often more than once, to bring back the depth.  And lately, I've been using a bit of manganese violet and I notice it is almost as oil thirsty as burnt umber. It must be something to do with the oxidized metal content in these pigments. Oh, well, oil is cheap and it's good to know that flat colours can be brought back to life with it. 
  • GTOGTO -
    edited April 2021
    @tassieguy the white actually repelled the varnish in a few small spots.  Which was odd because I scrub the varnish to make sure it gets in the nooks and crannies and then I do a 4” brush all in the same direction.
    Thanks @dencal for your instructions to just redcoat with another layer of varnish.
  • Yeah, that sounds weird, @GTO. Maybe there was some oily film on the white that repelled the varnish. Or maybe, as mentioned above, you polished it very smooth when oiling out. It will be interesting to see if it happens again when you next varnish.
  • I have been big proponent of oiling out. It can still be an alternative to varnish… but. If you rub too hard you get this rejecting of the varnish effect. Spray varnish seems to solve that problem. I've been using Kamar. I'm going to start testing Gamvar with my airbrush once I get the ventilation worked out. I have stopped oiling out. I do oil in while painting to bring back color using W&N painting medium.
  • @tassieguy  and @KingstonFineArt Revarnishing without removing varnish did the trick with the white area that was repelling the varnish.  It also smoothed out some brush marks from the previous coat of varnish.  (The bright white circle to the right is a light I was using to get the photo)
    the white bowl to the left is the paint that had repelled the varnish.

  • So glad you got it sorted, @GTO. It's a wonderful, flawless painting and no varnish problem should be allowed to interfere with.   :)
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