Saturday, 2 February 2008


All of my paintings are currently done in acrylic inks. I like them because you have speed, control and consistency. But i'm a romantic at heart and I love oils. It's been a long time since i've done any though. Partly this is down to the time it takes, which seems ridiculous when you become accustomed to acrylics. I like to layer the oils as well (i'm not much of a straight to canvas kind of girl) so you have to wait for a long time between layers drying...And because I like to work on something solidly I often lose interest after the 3rd layer and oil paintings lie abandoned all over my studio.

Anyway, this morning I was looking at one of these abandoned paintings, it didn't have much further to go, just one more layer of glazes, let it dry and then a varnish. Before i'd thought twice i'd jumped up and grabbed my oils and started glazing like crazy. And it struck me just how much I miss oils. There is something about them, and for me the glazing aspect in particular, which is just magical.

In the gradual build up of glazed layers you seem to get so much more depth than you do from laying down one single colour. The smell as well, Damar Varnish and even turpentine (Which I don't think you can buy anymore in Britain but which I have a stash of) is kind of wonderful. It was excellent, and I am already planning something new in the same vein as the current one.

Here's a wee peek.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Amazing!! I love the richness of oils too, but I have barely any experience working with them. I admire anyone who has the patience to use them so adeptly. (And can use them; I get migraine headaches from the solvents odors. :p)

littlerobot said...

Hey! Well, it's the patience I have problems with - hence the fact I don't do them often :). You can get a low odor solvent for them called sansodor, it barely has any smell which would help with the migraines!

pen and paper said...

Are acrylic inks different from acrylic paints?

I've been told by every art teacher I've had that I would love oils, but so far I haven't had the budget or the space to try them out. I try to mimic some of the techniques when I paint with acrylic (thin layers, glazing) and I'm pretty okay with it so far, but I feel like there's a luminous, rich quality to oils that can't really be imitated with other media.

littlerobot said...


Acrylic inks have the consistency of thick ink but they're acrylic, little particles suspended in some kind of liquid. Mostly used in airbrushing I think. It's mainly the consistency I like and the fact that you can use droppers to measure them out. But they dry and behave in every other way like acrylics from a tube.

You would love oils i'm sure of it, but it's true that the good ones are expensive. I think glazing acrylics would be a good approximation but yeah, oils have a richness i've never been able to duplicate in acrylics...Still, they can be expensive, messy, smelly, they take ages.. :) Pros and cons. I'd definately reccommend them if you have some cash and some time.

natasha said...

i agree. i never used acrylics until recently, i always thought they sucked. the color is just not the same, but they have come a looooong way, and it is hard to go back. i don't know if you have ever used encaustic methods, but i love to use oil pigments blended with the beeswax and you can polish it, or put it over other things and the colors just glow. one of the best things about oils is the smells. i just loooove the smell. toxic as it may be.

liliesandether said...

Oh, I know this all to well, I LOVE my oil paint, but it seems to take ages to dry and I think I may have about three or four unfinished and that drives me insane!!! haha I have just started reading about glazing and trying to really make sense of it before I try it though. I've heard people use damar and english distilled turp mix, and then I've heard people use copal resin ... do you have any suggestions??

littlerobot said...

Actually, one cheeky method I use is Liquin thin medium. It dries really quickly and allows you to wash transparent glazes easily. I actually got this technique from 'A Closer look at the art of Patrick Woodroffe' book - there are loads of really interesting wee techniques in there, a lot of them he seems to have just come up with! But the liquin stuff is really excellent, and it's not very smell either, whereas turps and damar is! :) Hope that's helpful!