Sunday, September 13, 2015
-from September Newsletter
Plein aire painting started just before the time of the Impressionists. Before then, paint had to be ground and mixed as it was to be used - strictly an indoor job. Then paints became available ready to use in tubes. Of course, the artist still adds a mixer-medium. For oils, it used to be turpentine and an oil- probably linseed. This is a bit smelly and probably a bit toxic but one whiff does remind me of Art School ! Now oil painters use a different non-toxic, non-smelly medium. Some oils are now even compatible with water. Acrylic paints, mixed with polymer plastic instead of oil, became available around 1940 and have proven their durability. The actual colours - or pigments- are the same in both oils and acrylics - and, for that matter, pastels and watercolours. Acrylics have the advantage of being a material than can be cleaned up with water. They maintain their flexibility so paintings don't crack. They also dry fast - and the artist keeps brushes in water because of this. Drying fast has both advantages and disadvantages. Now, mediums have been developed to slow down the drying so it is not awkwardly fast in the outdoors. I will be using a retarder gel when I am painting in the Grand Prix. It slows down drying enough to give better control for softer edges where I want them. Another advantage to acrylics is that the finished painting needs no varnishing and can even be wiped off. I recommend them for kitchen paintings especially. Needless to say, artists have great discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels. My feeling is that artists usually find the medium that appeals to them the most and with which they are most comfortable. My personal choice is acrylics - a modern paint for a modern world.