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How to accomplish "fat over lean" when using geneva paints

I'm new to painting in general, and especially new to oil paints. I just ordered my first batch of geneva paint, and they should get here any day now!

Anyways- I've been reading and watching videos in preparation, and it seems there's a universal principle to apply paint "fat over lean". However, my understanding of geneva paints is that they are pre-mixed with medium such that I shouldn't need to worry about adding more during my painting.

So, if I'm supposed to paint "thin" layers first, and progress toward "fat" layers, but the idea behind my paint is that I needn't modify its thinness... what am I supposed to do?!


  • edited May 6
    "Fat over lean" refers to the amount of oil used not the thickness of the paint. "Fat" means  oily, "lean" means less oily. As I understand it, the Carder method is a la prima, wet in wet - you paint only one layer instead of building up the surface with glazes as previous layers dry. Since it's just one layer the problem of fat over lean does not arise. Even if your first pass dries and you want to do more to a painting you can do so with Geneva because subsequent layers will not be leaner than previous layers unless you add solvent to the paint. If you use the paint straight from the tube without thinning it with solvent there would be no problem. You could, however, add more oil so that you are painting "fat over lean". 

    Painting thick over thin is not really an issue either because that is not what Geneva paint is designed for. It has a runny consistency. It's levelling properties mean that thick, impasto brushwork is not really possible. It's deigned to give a smooth, even surface without ridges of paint. 
  • edited May 6
    Hey @phildo,
     I'm no expert but i know this,with regular oil paint you want to be starting off with paint straight out of the tube and if you wanna add extra layers you should add a bit of medium. 
    I suppose it's because the layer with added medium takes longer to dry. If your top layer dries before your first (bottom) layer it might crack.  Other members might correct me if I'm wrong.

    About Geneva paints. Since they have added medium they are a bit more Fluid. I believe (not 100% sure) Marks paint is meant to be used for painting alla prima(one sitting,  no extra layers). In your case you shouldn't be concerned about the fat over lean rule if you're going to be painting one layer. If you want to add another layer you might wanna wait for the paint to dry because the paint is gonna mix together,  especially if you want to add white on dark coulors. If you add a white mix paint on a wet(already painted) canvas it might change to a different colour to what you mixed on your palette. 
     Hope it helps,
    Other members are more knowledgeable on the subject.

  • Fat is oil. Lean is turps or today OMS. You want faster drying in base layers. Fat is out of the tube mixes over base layers.

    It really doesn't apply in the same manner with Geneva. Which is meant for wet in wet painting. Of course you could thin it and add dryer for base layers and paint with out of the tube mixes for top layers.

    Glazing transparencies can be done over tacky dry paint. Glazing today is usually done with W&N Liquin, Gamlin Galkayd, Copal or other quicker drying transparent medium.

    For some the lean or base layers are done with acrylic. 
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