The Old Flemish and Italian Masters Traditional Ground

Step #1 Making the Gypsum Biscuits:

Ingredients:
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8 parts – water
1 part – finest gypsum powder or Plaster of Paris by volume
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· Sprinkle the gypsum into the water through a sieve, stir continuously for at least 30 minutes or until the gypsum no longer sets.

· Then stir this mix every 2 hours for that day and the following 2 days.

· Cover with a damp cloth and leave it so for a full month, stirring it at least twice every day.

· Take then a sieve large enough, place a cotton sheeting piece or muslin inside the sieve and pour the water and the gypsum and leave to drain all the water, squeezing with your hand gently until all the water has been poured off.

· Make small cakes or balls of gypsum using your hands and let these cakes to dry thoroughly.

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Step #2 Making the Gesso Sottile:

· Have your Rabbit Skin Glue glue ready and warm, pour the cakes, one by one into the glue, and stir to mix them well, until you obtain a heavy double-cream consistency gesso.

· Apply this gesso warm with a brush over degreased and already sized MDF or Masonite panels. Brush on 8 coats, at right angles. When you first brush a coat, the surface shines, wait it to dry until it becomes dull and matt before brushing the following coat. A total absolute maximum of 12 coats can be applied.

· Leave the panel so prepared to dry completely until the following day or maybe for 2 days if necessary.

· Finish by polishing the gesso with garnet paper or a pad of damp linen cloth, using circular movements across the entire surface. This technique will produce a marble touch effect just enough absorbent for oils.

PLEASE NOTE: The initial measure you used to measure the volume of gypsum and water for the cakes must be the same volume measure you use to measure the Rabbit Skin Glue glue. The quantities for the full gesso, i.e. the cakes and the glue, are 2 parts of Gypsum Cakes to 1 part Rabbit Skin Glue Glue. So, suppose you use a ½ pint glass. Measure ½ pint glass of Rabbit Skin Glue granules by volume and 10 x ½ pint glass of cold water, soak the granules and make the glue following one of the recipes previously given. Therefore, in keeping with the same ratio, measure 8 x ½ pint glass of water and 1 x ½ pint glass of dry gypsum powder (as indicated for making the cakes: 8 parts of water to 1 part of gypsum, by volume). It is important to keep the same measurement ratio all along in order to obtain the desired heavy double-cream consistency. You may have noticed that this ancient recipe does not include any white pigment, so your ground will not have the solid white opaque color, typical of a more modern traditional gesso. This, however, is not a shortcoming, as you will have a half tone ground from the onset to work on, by tracing a design on and applying a translucent Imprimatura.

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Traditional Gesso – Modern Practical Recipe

Ingredients:
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1 Part – Prepared Rabbit Skin Glue by volume
1 Part – Dry Gypsum, the finest available.
1/5 Part – Dry Zinc White pigment.
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· Pre-mix the Zinc White Pigment thoroughly with the gypsum.

·Separately, make the glue. Soak 2 parts of Rabbit Skin Glue granules in 10 parts cold tap water. Leave it to soak overnight for better results.

· Place the container with soaked Rabbit Skin Glue in another containing hot water and allow to melt into a uniform jelly. Keep it warm but do not allow to boil.

· Now slowly sprinkle the gypsum and zinc white mix through a sieve as if it were flour.

· Do not stir. As the gypsum/pigment falls into the warm glue, it sinks to the bottom of the container. Sprinkle only small amounts at a time to enable the gypsum to actually absorb the glue.

· When all the gypsum/pigment has been absorbed, stir very slowly with a wooden spoon, taking great care not to incorporate air bubbles.

· Brush this gesso on a panel at right angles and up to 8 coats maximum.

· Leave to dry and next day, polish the surface with garnet paper or a damp linen cloth pad in circular motions across the surface.

PLEASE NOTE: If you rush the procedure and incorporate air in the mix, after brushing it on the panel, the air bubbles blow up during the drying process. As the gesso hardens, it doesn’t have time to level out the holes left by the blown up air bubbles. You panel will look more like a notice-board upon which people leave notes stuck with pins, which renders it useless for oil painting.

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Sun Thickened Oil-How To make?

The process is simple. Linseed Oil is poured into shallow tin or lead vessels up to 3 or 4 inches high. These vessels are then covered with glass slabs in a way to allow air to circulate but protecting the oil from dust. The oil is left under direct exposure to the Sun for a number of weeks, being stirred several times each day. It becomes pure and thickens rendering it an excellent oil with optimal drying properties and imparting toughness and elasticity to the oil film.

Sun-Thickened Oil is one of the best choices, both on its own or mixed in oil painting mediums, the use in such mediums being a traditional practice for many centuries. Cenino Cennini did indeed recommended it and in his opinion there could be no better oil then Sun-Thickened Oil. Manufacturers of art materials do not produce this oil unfortunately, so your only choice is actually to make it yourself, but since the process is fairly simple, spare a good bottle of raw cold pressed linseed oil and during the Summer try to make some of this oil yourself. Perhaps one day manufacturers will realize what they are missing by not making this oil, so here is an appeal to them. The best substitute for sun-thickened oil is actually Stand-Oil and for all intents and purposes, any recipes mentioning sun-thickened oil may be safely mixed by replacing it with Stand-Oil.

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The Portuguese Oil Painting Medium

The Portuguese School of Painting was chiefly influenced by the Flemish and Dutch schools of painting of the XV, XVI and XVII Centuries. The Flemish tradition was to last longer in Portugal than in the rest of Central Europe and paintings produced in the XVIII Century still show a technique employed by the Flemish and the Dutch Masters of the previous 2 or 3 centuries.

Numerous accounts of the Portuguese techniques exist, namely those mentioned by Sir Charles Eastlake, but by no means not just such accounts. The present medium recipe is believed to have been employed by painters in Portugal for centuries, certainly between the XV and the XVII centuries.

The recipe published here was passed to us many years ago by an Artist Oil Painter and Restorer who was working in the restoration of several works of art in a church.

Ingredients By Volume

Consider 1 Part = 1 3/4 fl.Oz.

1 Part – Sun-Thickened Linseed Oil (replace with Stand Oil)
1 Part – Strasbourg Fir Turpentine

To thin:
Pure Gum Turpentine
1% – Oil of Spike Lavender
3% – Lead Oxide Drier (optional)
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· Firstly mix the oil with Strasbourg Turpentine into a very heavy and thick opaque paste.

· Pour in the turpentine (pure gum or double-rectified) slowly into the above, combining it well. Up to 1 part ( 50 ml. ( 1 3/4 fl.Oz.) may be used, but only enough turpentine should be used to thin the mixture to the preferred thickness/consistency. As a guider, this medium should have the consistency of running honey or slightly thicker.

· When all the above ingredients are perfectly well combined, mix in Oil of Spike Lavender.

· Lastly, as an option, incorporate 3% drier (we recommend LeFranc & Bourgeois Siccative of Courtrai Brown or Siccative of Courtrai White).
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This medium imparts a high gloss but not excessive. The presence of Strasbourg Fir Turpentine makes the brush strokes disappear while the paint film slowly flattens out into a very flat and smooth surface. Ideal for painting on primed wooden panels, it may also be used on “drum-tight” stretched canvases. It gives colours brilliance and luminance.
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The Portuguese Wax Medium Complement

Recipes of Wax mediums can also be found, among them this one which complements well The Portuguese Oil Painting Medium but that we have adapted a little by replacing the original Venice Turpentine content with Damar Varnish (5-Pound-Cut consistency), because as a complement to the other medium, the presence of the balsam would place the ratio of balsams at a higher point than what we consider a desirable and balanced rate.

The presence of wax mediums is well documented in Portuguese Painting, chiefly from the XVIII Century, when Italian Schools of Art had a major influence in Portugal in several areas of artistic expression, such as Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and even Music (the Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti lived in Lisbon as a Court Composer for long years, just to give an example).
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Ingredients By Volume

1 Part – Raw Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
1 Part – Yellow Pure Bees Wax Pellets
1 Part – Damar Varnish (5 Pound-Cut Concentrate)
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· Combine the raw cold pressed linseed oil with the bees wax pellets in a pan.

· Heat the mix gently stirring a little until the wax pellets melt into the oil.

· Remove from the heat.

· Now mix in the Damar Varnish, stirring

· Place cold water in a basin and place the pan in the cold water, keep stirring the mix in the pan. The mix starts to set into a soft paste. Be patient and keep stirring as this paste benefits from not allowing it to set alone. Stirring while sharply cooling it in the way we indicate above makes it smoother and prevents the forming of hard wax blobs which are difficult to smooth down when combining this medium with the other one.
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Application:

Simply combine the wax medium at any desired rate with the medium on top of this page. Whereas the first medium imparts a smooth glossy finish, as the Strasbourg Turpentine flats out while drying, the wax medium retains the brush stroke more visible and cuts glossiness just enough.

The two mediums combined make an excellent medium for painting in any style, bring up colour and natural beauty to the paint film.

Keep in mind that both the Portuguese Medium and the Wax Complement are quite fat mediums and therefore should only be used in the last layers of the painting, in-keeping with the fat-over-lean rules. The presence of stand oil in one medium and raw cold pressed in the other medium impart an incredible level of elasticity and toughness to which the balsam on one medium and the Damar on the other contribute to give brilliance of finish and luminance.

As indicated before for the first medium, these two mediums should primarily be used on rigid panels. Use a rigid and stable material.

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IMPASTO PASTE

Read the whole information on this page for a thorough view on Impasto!!!

Before considering Impasto recipes, let us look at some pros and cons:

1 – IMPASTO EATS PAINT

Impastos may use a lot of expensive paint which increases the cost of producing an impasto work massively.

2 – IMPASTO WRINKLES OR CRACKS

Impastos tend to wrinkle or crack for reasons already explained in previously.

3 – WAX AND WAX + OIL MEDIUMS?

Impastos can be made by mixing your paint with bees wax mediums, but this will impart a very matt finish to the work which may not be desirable. Wax alone makes the picture matt and not only that, it can make it look quite dull too. This could be partially avoided by adding stand oil to the wax medium, bringing more elasticity to the paint film, but there is a serious downfall in this solution: In time, the paint film will yellow and also if mixed with highly fat oils such as Viridian or Alizarin Crimson and other Madder lakes, the paint film may be rendered unstable due to an uneven distribution of fat according to the fat-over-lean rule. Another problem with wax mediums is that wax picks dirt and dust which cling on to the paint film. Varnishing wax is not recommended either, for obvious reasons. If necessary to remove the varnish, the solvent will act on the wax making it go slightly softer and the paint film could be ruined.

4 – DESIRABLE PROPERTIES OF “SOUND” IMPASTO

Impasto should retain easily knife marks and be “energetic” in that sense, by adding a 3D element to a typical 2D work surface. It also should retain luminance and natural beauty of oil paint without excess gloss, but be able to reflect light effectively thus rendering the picture more luminous and bright. It should remain very hard but flexible to avoid cracking, it should “capture” light and return it to the viewer in order to show all the beauty of oil colours and the natural luminance of the picture.

5 – IDEAL IMPASTO MEDIUM

It should provide all the above in point 4 plus: Enable an easy transition from knife work to expressive brushwork without the need for a change of medium, but without clogging brush bristles, it should not yellow at all, even with light colours and whites.

Although wax pastes work well for impastos, the matt finish may not be the desired result, but it is true that bees wax imparts a very luminous effect and brilliance to oil paints, so its presence is somewhat desirable. The impasto should be flexible but dry rock hard while maintaining its flexibility.

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Old Masters Medium VI

Ingredients:

___________________

1 Part -Venice Larch Turpentine

1 Part – Stand Oil or Sun-Thickened Linseed Oil

1 Part – Double Mastic Varnish

___________________

· Combine Venice Turpentine (pre-warmed in a bain-marie) with Stand Oil (or Sun-Thickened) into a homogeneous soft paste.

·Add the mastic varnish and mix well.

· Please note that this medium is very high in soft resins, take this into account as a high presence of soft resins may be counter-productive for permanence and stability of the paint film.

About Old Masters Medium

Studies carried out by many academics and artists painters have produced several proposals for the ever interesting quest for the Old Masters Oil Painting Mediums. Of these, of course, some can be considered unlikely, but other authoritative studies should be taken into account.

Oils Studio made some trials on the probability of such mixes and arrived at some interesting oil painting mediums. The recipes presented here have been tested and the mediums have been prepared at room temperature. Some recipes were adapted to comply with easier preparation.

Drying
All 6 Old Masters oil painting mediums discussed should dry within a period of time between 12 hours and 3 days. Drying times depend enormously of the oil paints being used, atmospheric conditions and climate characteristics of the area where you live. You may use a drier to speed the drying process. However, the presence of balsam turpentines imparts a smooth flat glossy finish as the balsams flat out in the drying process. A shortened drying time may not be sufficient to allow the balsam to flatten out completely, so be careful to calculate how long you want the drying time to be.

Both driers below may be used safely in the ratio of 1% up to 5% calculated over the total volume of oil painting medium. To remain 100% safe, an average 3% should be used. Suppose one of the painting mediums above was prepared, making a total
_____________________________________
A drier or siccative may be used safely. We do not recommend cobalt siccatives because these tend to dry the surface leaving a softer under-layer. If you decide to use a drier, use a lead oxides based drier.
The French Manufacturer LeFranc & Bourgeois makes produces 2 distinct driers:

·Brown Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended manganese and lead oxides, it is the strongest siccative available. This siccative has gained some bad reputation in the past due to abuse from artists. Used in the recommended doses, it is perfectly safe to employ in oil painting.

·White Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended lead oxides, it is less powerful and due to its pale colour, it is to be preferred by many painters. Application rules applying to this siccative (illustrated above) are exactly the same as for Brown Courtrai Drier.
__________________________________
Both above driers speed up drying times considerably and help drying and stabilising the paint film from the inside out.

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Old Masters Medium V

Ingredients:

___________________

1 Part – Fir Strasbourg Turpentine

1 Part – Walnut Oil (Raw Cold Pressed or Refined)

___________________

· Place Fir Strasbourg Turpentine in a clean glass jar (a jam jar is perfect for this).

·Now pour in the Nut Oil, not all at once but in small batches and keep stirring the two ingredients as you pour all the oil.

·Mix slowly and thoroughly the two to combine them into a homogeneous thick and very viscous medium.

About Old Masters Medium

Studies carried out by many academics and artists painters have produced several proposals for the ever interesting quest for the Old Masters Oil Painting Mediums. Of these, of course, some can be considered unlikely, but other authoritative studies should be taken into account.

Oils Studio made some trials on the probability of such mixes and arrived at some interesting oil painting mediums. The recipes presented here have been tested and the mediums have been prepared at room temperature. Some recipes were adapted to comply with easier preparation.

Drying
All 6 Old Masters oil painting mediums discussed should dry within a period of time between 12 hours and 3 days. Drying times depend enormously of the oil paints being used, atmospheric conditions and climate characteristics of the area where you live. You may use a drier to speed the drying process. However, the presence of balsam turpentines imparts a smooth flat glossy finish as the balsams flat out in the drying process. A shortened drying time may not be sufficient to allow the balsam to flatten out completely, so be careful to calculate how long you want the drying time to be.

Both driers below may be used safely in the ratio of 1% up to 5% calculated over the total volume of oil painting medium. To remain 100% safe, an average 3% should be used. Suppose one of the painting mediums above was prepared, making a total
_____________________________________
A drier or siccative may be used safely. We do not recommend cobalt siccatives because these tend to dry the surface leaving a softer under-layer. If you decide to use a drier, use a lead oxides based drier.
The French Manufacturer LeFranc & Bourgeois makes produces 2 distinct driers:

·Brown Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended manganese and lead oxides, it is the strongest siccative available. This siccative has gained some bad reputation in the past due to abuse from artists. Used in the recommended doses, it is perfectly safe to employ in oil painting.

·White Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended lead oxides, it is less powerful and due to its pale colour, it is to be preferred by many painters. Application rules applying to this siccative (illustrated above) are exactly the same as for Brown Courtrai Drier.
__________________________________
Both above driers speed up drying times considerably and help drying and stabilising the paint film from the inside out.

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Old Masters Medium IV

Ingredients:

___________________

2 Parts – Damar Varnish (5 POUND-CUT )

1 Part – Linseed Oil

___________________

· Combine the two ingredients in a bottle, seal the bottle hermetically and shake it energetically for about 5 minutes. Leave to rest at room temperature until next day.

About Old Masters Medium

Studies carried out by many academics and artists painters have produced several proposals for the ever interesting quest for the Old Masters Oil Painting Mediums. Of these, of course, some can be considered unlikely, but other authoritative studies should be taken into account.

Oils Studio made some trials on the probability of such mixes and arrived at some interesting oil painting mediums. The recipes presented here have been tested and the mediums have been prepared at room temperature. Some recipes were adapted to comply with easier preparation.

Drying
All 6 Old Masters oil painting mediums discussed should dry within a period of time between 12 hours and 3 days. Drying times depend enormously of the oil paints being used, atmospheric conditions and climate characteristics of the area where you live. You may use a drier to speed the drying process. However, the presence of balsam turpentines imparts a smooth flat glossy finish as the balsams flat out in the drying process. A shortened drying time may not be sufficient to allow the balsam to flatten out completely, so be careful to calculate how long you want the drying time to be.

Both driers below may be used safely in the ratio of 1% up to 5% calculated over the total volume of oil painting medium. To remain 100% safe, an average 3% should be used. Suppose one of the painting mediums above was prepared, making a total
_____________________________________
A drier or siccative may be used safely. We do not recommend cobalt siccatives because these tend to dry the surface leaving a softer under-layer. If you decide to use a drier, use a lead oxides based drier.
The French Manufacturer LeFranc & Bourgeois makes produces 2 distinct driers:

·Brown Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended manganese and lead oxides, it is the strongest siccative available. This siccative has gained some bad reputation in the past due to abuse from artists. Used in the recommended doses, it is perfectly safe to employ in oil painting.

·White Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended lead oxides, it is less powerful and due to its pale colour, it is to be preferred by many painters. Application rules applying to this siccative (illustrated above) are exactly the same as for Brown Courtrai Drier.
__________________________________
Both above driers speed up drying times considerably and help drying and stabilising the paint film from the inside out.

Related Posts:

Old Masters Medium III

Ingredients:

___________________

1 Part – Venice Larch Turpentine

2 Parts – Fresh Double Rectified Turpentine

___________________

· Warm the bottle/flask containing Larch Venice Turpentine in a bain-marie, until it becomes liquid and not viscous at all.

·Pour it in a bowl and put the bowl in the bain-marie you used to heat the Venice Turpentine.

·Now mix the Turpentine into the warm Venice Larch Turpentine. The two should react into a thin jelly medium.

· This medium must be applied warm, so keep the medium in the bain-marie as you paint.

About Old Masters Medium

Studies carried out by many academics and artists painters have produced several proposals for the ever interesting quest for the Old Masters Oil Painting Mediums. Of these, of course, some can be considered unlikely, but other authoritative studies should be taken into account.

Oils Studio made some trials on the probability of such mixes and arrived at some interesting oil painting mediums. The recipes presented here have been tested and the mediums have been prepared at room temperature. Some recipes were adapted to comply with easier preparation.

Drying
All 6 Old Masters oil painting mediums discussed should dry within a period of time between 12 hours and 3 days. Drying times depend enormously of the oil paints being used, atmospheric conditions and climate characteristics of the area where you live. You may use a drier to speed the drying process. However, the presence of balsam turpentines imparts a smooth flat glossy finish as the balsams flat out in the drying process. A shortened drying time may not be sufficient to allow the balsam to flatten out completely, so be careful to calculate how long you want the drying time to be.

Both driers below may be used safely in the ratio of 1% up to 5% calculated over the total volume of oil painting medium. To remain 100% safe, an average 3% should be used. Suppose one of the painting mediums above was prepared, making a total
_____________________________________
A drier or siccative may be used safely. We do not recommend cobalt siccatives because these tend to dry the surface leaving a softer under-layer. If you decide to use a drier, use a lead oxides based drier.
The French Manufacturer LeFranc & Bourgeois makes produces 2 distinct driers:

·Brown Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended manganese and lead oxides, it is the strongest siccative available. This siccative has gained some bad reputation in the past due to abuse from artists. Used in the recommended doses, it is perfectly safe to employ in oil painting.

·White Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended lead oxides, it is less powerful and due to its pale colour, it is to be preferred by many painters. Application rules applying to this siccative (illustrated above) are exactly the same as for Brown Courtrai Drier.
__________________________________
Both above driers speed up drying times considerably and help drying and stabilising the paint film from the inside out.

Related Posts:

Old Masters Medium II

Ingredients:

___________________

1 Part – Black Oil (made with Nut Oil and White Lead Pigment)

1 Part – Double Mastic Varnish

___________________

· Combine the two ingredients in equal parts. The resulting medium feels like a jelly which if disturbed becomes liquid and if left to rest turns back into a jelly.

About Old Masters Medium

Studies carried out by many academics and artists painters have produced several proposals for the ever interesting quest for the Old Masters Oil Painting Mediums. Of these, of course, some can be considered unlikely, but other authoritative studies should be taken into account.

Oils Studio made some trials on the probability of such mixes and arrived at some interesting oil painting mediums. The recipes presented here have been tested and the mediums have been prepared at room temperature. Some recipes were adapted to comply with easier preparation.

Drying
All 6 Old Masters oil painting mediums discussed should dry within a period of time between 12 hours and 3 days. Drying times depend enormously of the oil paints being used, atmospheric conditions and climate characteristics of the area where you live. You may use a drier to speed the drying process. However, the presence of balsam turpentines imparts a smooth flat glossy finish as the balsams flat out in the drying process. A shortened drying time may not be sufficient to allow the balsam to flatten out completely, so be careful to calculate how long you want the drying time to be.

Both driers below may be used safely in the ratio of 1% up to 5% calculated over the total volume of oil painting medium. To remain 100% safe, an average 3% should be used. Suppose one of the painting mediums above was prepared, making a total
_____________________________________
A drier or siccative may be used safely. We do not recommend cobalt siccatives because these tend to dry the surface leaving a softer under-layer. If you decide to use a drier, use a lead oxides based drier.
The French Manufacturer LeFranc & Bourgeois makes produces 2 distinct driers:

·Brown Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended manganese and lead oxides, it is the strongest siccative available. This siccative has gained some bad reputation in the past due to abuse from artists. Used in the recommended doses, it is perfectly safe to employ in oil painting.

·White Courtrai Drier: Prepared with suspended lead oxides, it is less powerful and due to its pale colour, it is to be preferred by many painters. Application rules applying to this siccative (illustrated above) are exactly the same as for Brown Courtrai Drier.
__________________________________
Both above driers speed up drying times considerably and help drying and stabilising the paint film from the inside out.

Related Posts: