Written by Artefex Ambassador Teresa Oaxaca
To read her entire post that includes an in depth review of Natural Pigments Stack Lead White check out her full blog on her website.
Chicken Little, oil on fine weave oil primed Artefex ACM panel, 16×20″
When trying to describe what it’s like working with lead paint, “drag” is one of the elements I like to employ in my descriptions. In these closeups I hope you can see what I am talking about. You’ll notice that the paint has a memory of the direction in which it was laid on, even the speed of the stroke. The surface that you are working on plays a great deal as to what will be recorded finally in your still image. Factors such a the amount of “bounce” that your support gives (stretched canvas as opposed to a rigid panel) and texture (such as canvas weave or smooth primed wood or metal). In this case we will be examining ACM, or Aluminum Composite Material panels, such as the ones produced by Artefex art. I prefer to work on linen surfaces so the degree of texture in the linen weave will play another important role, as will the composition of the priming on the surface of the weave (in this case lead white vs. a general oil primed white).
A closeup of paint strokes
I am not yet prepared to say that I can really tell the difference between a fine grain and a course grain lead white paint. I tend to forget such distinctions once I am involved in the actual painting process. I do know that you can feel an almost hear a satisfying crunching noise as you blend course pigment particles into your support, particularly if you are using a hog bristle brush.
As with all painting media I would advise users to experiment with it all and decide for themselves which surfaces, textures and mediums are the most appropriate, pleasing and suitable. You can only discover this by working and a lot of trial an error. What is important is that you become familiar with the choices that are out there and learn to tell the differences.
Pathos, oil on fine weave oil primed Artefex ACM panel, 16×20″ with artist made frame
Until recently most of my rigid support, ACM panel investigations have been confined to small paintings. Because of this I don’t feel the need to make too many layer passes, so the artworks you are seeing in this article were all painted in 2-3 sessions (albeit Long sessions). I’m working on some larger panels now that are 60×40″ and 30×40″ respectively.
Flower Maiden, oil on medium weave oil primed Artefex ACM panel, 16×20″
In this detail of Flower Maiden you can see how she was painted on a slightly courser and more noticeable weave of linen. I do like the look of a weave showing through a painting, a slightly irregular one. I find machine-like repetitive weaves to be ugly, and am a bit at sea when painting on mylar or something plastic.
A before and after shot of Chicken Little for those of you who are curious or like to learn from process. That’s a pretty rapid and loose under painting there of probably under an hour. Below you see the finished product man hours later. I don’t count, I listen to stories instead.
Madonna, oil on stretched linen canvas, 16×12″
Here are two paintings not made on an ACM panel, but on stretched canvas. In life you can really tell the difference, but I’m not certain that it is noticeable in photographs. As a rule of thumb I would advise working on a rigid support if you prefer a smoother surface and blending.
The Floating World, oil on stretched linen canvas,18×24″
Here I am painting on the new Artefex 532 Extra Fine Lead Oil Primed ACM Panel. I just received this about a week ago, it’s a brand new offering from Artefex that I am having a go at. I’ve always preferred lead primed canvases due to the “lead on lead” contact that I like. The paint always seems to glide on best with oil primed canvases, but especially so on a lead primed version. Here in this video I have made a first pass at the face and am working away at the background. One of the nice things about panels is that you don’t have to worry about stretching or adding keys later in case the atmosphere makes your stretcher bars contract or expand.they are ready to go and frame pretty easily.