Monday, April 18, 2011

"Flatter" Oil Paints

OK, First off let's get one thing clear here. The title says "Flatter Oils" not Flat or dead matte or anything like that.

I get a LOT of questions about how I get a matte finish on my miniatures. Everyone knows that oils tend to dry with a sheen, some colors glossier than others. I am fortunate to have learned over the years how to minimize this issue. I will share a few thoughts on the subject here. These are only my personal findings so they may be total quackery - try them for yourself and see what works for you.

First let me say that I hate dead flat miniatures. I know I am in the minority here but oils are designed as a medium that has a certain life to it. Go to a museum and compare a oil painting on the wall that is open to the air with a painting that is under glass and you will instantly see what I mean. I don't try to get dead matte finishes but I try not to have glossy sheen on them either.

The first technique I tried was to put my oils on 3 X 5 note cards to absorb some of the oils. This is fine but limits the working life of the oils (IMO). As my techniques have changed this idea has become unworkable. For years I put my figures in an open crock pot to help pull the oils out but that has gotten old as well and I just don't have the space anymore. In an emergency I will apply a thin coat of Testor's Matt Lacquer from the bottle but I hate doing it as it harkens back to my earlier comment about paintings under glass, something gets lost.

What does seem to work for me is in the photo above. I have been using this brand of brush cleaner for years as a thinner for my glazes and washes. I have seen that it's use over the colors that do dry with a sheen (Blue, green, some browns) will take away the sheen as I apply my highlights and shadows. In addition, it's use in small amounts mixed with my initial mid-tone color also helps. I don't know what it does, but it does something. Other thinners have actually made the colors dry glossier.

This product can be found at A.C. Moore and sometimes at Michael's. In the old days I used to buy it at Pearl Paints but I haven't shopped there in 15 years so I have no idea if they carry it anymore. I hope this tip helps a few people out there.

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