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First try and a big Fail! Are my paints too thin?

I started my first DMP painting today and for a second time ~ first with laying down the stain on my canvas and then today as I tried to lay in a dark background color around my subject. Both times the color was not opaque enough to cover the canvas and influenced the way the color I was laying down looked. Did I mix add too much Mineral Spirit to my stain? Also when I squeezed out my yellow It came out in a big gushing puddleg, very thin~ did that thin my background color (which I mixed as a darkish green/brown. I twice wiped off what I had painted and tried again. Also I was unable to paint on top of the color without lifting paint off. Thanks for any help


  • what paints are you using ? @cadia
  • Before squeezing out any Geneva paint, I’ve learned to shake that tube vigorously for twenty seconds.  That helps a lot, and so does leaving your pallette out for a few days, which also improves paint coverage.  A second coat l will help if you find the yellow too thin, as do I.
  • Thank you PaulB - I guess I'll also try it on the colors such as BU and others that are WAY too thick!!!  
  • I think I have the same experience as you.  White, yellow, red and blue all separate in the tube and are very runny.  Umber and black squeeze out with a cream cheese viscosity and need linseed oil to make usable.
  • The more chromatic yellows are not that opaque (even pigment rich cadmiums) when thinned a lot with oil or mediums. I can get a thick cadmium yellow to completely cover black from the tube but when thinned it loses a lot of opacity (Whereas Cadmium Red doesn't).
  • I only used the yellow as part of a " mix" but when I squeezed the tube more than a tablespoon oozed out into my palate
  • This is my first time in oils, I've used watercolor, alkyds, pastels, and about everything else so it's a new learning curve for me! 
  • PaulB said:
    I think I have the same experience as you.  White, yellow, red and blue all separate in the tube and are very runny.  Umber and black squeeze out with a cream cheese viscosity and need linseed oil to make usable.
    You are not selling me on the Geneva paints... Have you given this feedback to Mark?
  • PaulB said:
    I think I have the same experience as you.  White, yellow, red and blue all separate in the tube and are very runny.  Umber and black squeeze out with a cream cheese viscosity and need linseed oil to make usable.
    You are not selling me on the Geneva paints... Have you given this feedback to Mark?
    I have not passed this information on, outside this forum.  I see several people talking about consistency issues, and I've heard of some folks getting tubes replaced.

    I think a lot of this is my fault.  For example, if I forget to shake the paint and squirt out a small blob and get a half teaspoon of oil at the same time, then it can be said that I just altered the composition of the remaining paint.  Do this a couple of times, and it's easy to imagine different handling characteristics for what is left in the tube.

    I recently finished a tube of Geneva black.  After I thought I had emptied it, I cut open the tube to let it dry out before disposal.  Inside I found a whole lot more paint, and you can see the consistency is not liquid at all.  I guess you can only get close to emptying tubes if the paint is runny.

    So while I've never seen black or burnt umber paint look/behave the way it does on Mark's videos, I don't want you to think I'm down on Geneva paint.  I think Geneva paint is wonderful to use.  I just need to be consistent about shaking the tubes.

    And all of this is a minor irritation compared to my experience using student grade and other artist grade paint.  I have paint that won't come out of the tubes, other paint that will barely stay in the tubes. Try mixing something really runny with something really thick, it's difficult, even with a palette knife.

    So you're right, I'm not selling you on Geneva paint, but I'm not trying to.  I will say that it's definitely worth trying out.  I also priced out Geneva paints per ml, and W&N artist grade paint + color-specific SDM per ml, as available to me.  Geneva paint is not expensive.
  • Hey @PaulB, that’s a lot of wasted paint! Do you have one of these?

    JuliannaAlaska Atlast
  • Would that device work on plastic tubes, @Boudicca?
  • Hi @tassieguy, I would think so, people use them on toothpaste tubes and such like. I think the only difference would be that you wouldn’t get the permanent crimping that you do with metal.
  • Boudicca said:
    Hey @PaulB, that’s a lot of wasted paint! Do you have one of these?

    Thanks @Boudicca, no I don't have a tube wringer.  Time to get one.
  • cadiacadia -
    edited October 2017
    I really appreciate discussing this, I really want to like Geneva paints as my studio is within my house, so Im willing to fight it out, though I'm disappointed in this problem! As I mentioned Im new to oil paints in general but have painted in almost every other medium so my earning curve is big and my studio not set up  !00% correctly yet but enough to get my brushes "wet"!!
    Here's another tube squeeze tool:
  • Mark's recommends using quick dry oils for the stain only (such as W&N griffin).

    Was the stain completely dry (bearing in mind Geneva paints take a long time to dry) before painting your dark area? You said you were unable to paint over the wiped area without it lifting the paint off. Was the stain not dry?

    Any pics?
  • The stain had been dry for quite a while due to my procrastination in getting started !!! The stain wasn't lifting off~ I think it may have more to do with y inexperience in laying down oil paint and then not messing with it :(
    Thank you movealonghome I'll keep that in mind too! refined linseed is on my shopping list! And the Geneva can also be mixed with other oil paints , right?

  • Good learning thread here. I don't know if this would work but I think when I convert to Geneva I will save my jars and empty the tubes of runniest colors in jars so as to thouroughly mix them. @PaulB is right, if you squish out lots of oils from a new tube, what remains is not a proper mix.
  • This is an interesting thread!  For me, the yellow will ooze like crazy if I don't make sure to knead the tube at LEAST 30 seconds.  Same as Paul, a few times of getting a bunch of binder goo with a tint of yellow makes you remember to knead the tubes - shaking doesn't really work for me.   That is very interesting about all the black paint left in Paul's tube when he cut it!  time to get my scissors out and some q-tips to get every ounce as a few of my tubes are very close to empty.  My favorite color is the yellow as I have several mustard paintings and that color is just glorious but again!  I knead my tubes and I also paint very thick most of the time.  The tube that I do not like at all is my burnt umber as that is as stiff as a pencil almost when I can finally squeeze some out - however, because the other colors are so fluid and lush and creamy, when I start to mix my palette, it is fine.  I also always have some Schmid medium, walnut oil, linseed oil and liquin at my disposal for help with the body if I need it.  I don't think your canvas stain wash is the issue at all @cadia but I am not an expert on such matters as many people here - are you using oil primed linen by chance?  I had a difficult time initially when I started using oil primed linen as my paint seemed to be just sliding around but thanks to the many people here, I did an experiment and don't have that problem anymore (I was using too much medium in the first stages so that is why my paint wasn't adhering to the oil primed linen) - so, that is the only thing I can think of with your initial problems.  Hang in there, hopefully we can all help work it out so you aren't getting frustrated.
  • cadiacadia -
    edited October 2017
    Thanks Julianna for that info!

  • I did use the recommended paints for staining and my canvas's are oil primed linen. Happily these first attempts were on very small canvas's (so I could make smaller mistakes!) and I had 4 all stained and waiting. Now 3 have had the paint wiped off ~so I don't have any to show ~and are drying. I'll give it another go  after more pre~kneading the tubes. I had read about this issue earlier before trying the paints but thought it was a fluke that may have been taken care of by the time I ordered and used them.
    Is there any worries of the fat over lean issue in using these different consistencies together?
  • yes, the oil primed linen was what I had to experiment with also.   I now love oil primed linen but my gosh, was it an adjustment!  my tubes say "shake well before use" on a sticker on each lid.  I think it is something we will always have to do but honestly, that lush, juicy, buttery feel is worth it.  Keep experimenting and let us know.  
  • Im having a better time of it now, carefully kneading ( shaking doesn't do it) the tubes before using and squeezing out very carefully. Letting the paint dry out for a day or two has helped and being more careful with my brush stroke and using softer brushes also. Also adjusting to oil painting in general. My studio is in progress s I need to work on the ergonomics of my set up!
    Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions. Still I'd like to buy some paint that has no solvents and add my own walnut or linseed to get a feel for that, would love some suggestions on a brand to try out.
  • If you want fluid artist quality paint then Rembrandt is probably the most fluid. I also use Winsor & Newton and Sennelier.

    The problem you are having is that black made with burnt umber and ultramarine is not as opaque as a pure black pigment, so it can be hard to cover a canvas stain.
  • I wasn't going replace all my paint Im more interested in the experimentation of trying it out. Thanks for the suggestion Richard_P! I will keep using my Geneva also! 
  • Hey @cadia  - are things getting better?  I was thinking of you today as I was working on a study and struggling with my burnt umber - I took this photo about an hour after laying out my colors.  I had to use burnt umber primarily so didn't have the lush cushion of the other colors and was almost ready to add some medium to it - I kneaded each for about a minute or less - 

    My white was a little on the runny side today but I don't think I kneaded it as much as I should have.  Do your paints kind of look like this consistency?

  • Yes Julianna! That looks very familiar lol, though my red is "juicier", and same with my blue. But I'm starting to adapt to it, leaving my paints out a few days before using, and laying in very thin layers of the loose colors, also when mixing the colors they seem to balance out some.
  • edited November 2017
    With my Geneva tubes... I shake, knead and give it a few hard wacks on my easel and shake again to make sure it’s mixed up good before opening. Brand new they were more runny initially however I don’t have any problems and don’t even let them sit out anymore they are good to go straight out of the tubes. 
    So if yours are brand new mix them well and maybe let them set on pallet a day or two. Once I was over my own learning curve they are my all time favorites and I will never use anything else.

    if you are not getting the coverage you need perhaps marks video on how much paint to load on the brush will help? I think it is the good brush habits video ( can’t remember for sure)
  • Yes! I will check out that video ~ thanks!
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