Sunday, 5 May 2013


Oil, and Water and Gum as Media for Matting by Dick Millard [edited from a discussion]

Oil has been used, I believe, since the 16th Century, and certainly up through the 1970's to today. It is used wherever it is determined it should be used, and one is sufficiently informed and facile to use it in a manner of delivering its full and lovely potential.

First of all, oil is not characteristically employed as a matt, out of which, by the negative process, one "takes out lights". In overwhelming instances, with which I am acquainted, it is used as a shading material applied over a pre applied and "worked" under matt of water and gum base.
This provides the required "tooth" to provide both a degree of adherence and ease of application.
So, I would suggest an oil matting, or a shading application over a smooth glass surface, would be generally problematical!

A group of blending brushes

Add a bit more gum to your water under matt which will reduce the necessity to fire that matt, which changes the character of the desired "tooth". The purpose of the "tooth" to receive the oil matt is also to provide "porosity" as an "absorbant", which additionally holds the oil mixed paint to the matt. Otherwise, the oil remains too liquid and does not float in a controlled fashion. It will require a much dryer application of kerosene, or increased absorption by additional blending.
I had a large landscape piece, hills in the back ground, that I matted and applied an alcohol mat too, but I was lifting the water mat trying to cover it with alcohol, so I added more gum to my mat and that did the trick. I also used a very soft Chinese brush. I have found that firing the mat first and looses tooth.

A group of stippling brushes

I have noticed over time that some people seem to have the impression that the less gum used, the better. I advise not to use an excessive amount of gum arabic, as a soft matt, with a soft touch produces a soft look. This is interpreted to mean 'less is better'. That is true, but only up to a point. If too little gum is used, or none, it will come off as if it were flour or mud diluted with water and applied. Too little gum severely jeopardizes any opportunity to produce soft gradation from the highlight to the untouched matt.