Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Unfortunately, this post has nothing to do with actual snow.  It's 50 and raining here in the Midwest.  Whatever that's about.  Fortunately, this post is a handy painting tip I just learned from my sister.  My sister who hates painting.  Why this didn't come from anyone else I know, I have no idea, but it's good so I'm sharing!

Back in school, I was taught that white paint was pretty much evil.  It killed all the transparency in an oil paint.  Rather than mixing it with other paints to make them lighter, one should lay out all the values on your foundation layer, lay down thin glazes of color letting the lightness come through where necessary, and hitting the super bright spots with white at the very end of the painting.  This is a very traditional way of painting, and somewhat similar to a watercolor approach.  I tend to like my paintings to have more energy, be less polished, show more brush strokes.  Doing both is a pain.

But my lovely sister gave me this clue:  use Zinc white instead of Titanium white.  Think about it.  What's in  natural sunblock?  Titanium oxide.  The stuff blocks light.  But not Zinc!  Mixing with this will lighten your paint, without making it pastel and opaque.  (I can't tell you how many times she said "I can't believe you didn't know that!")  But now I do, and so do you!

There are many other white pigments as well.  Windsor Newton even has this article on the subject:  Choosing the White that's Right in Oils.  I think I'm going to pick up small tubes of various ones and test them.  What have your experiments taught you about white paint?

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