Fat over lean is the major rule of oil painting so I thought I’d better look into it a little. It turns out it’s quite simple, and I like that.

luarel-and-hardyFatness is oiliness. The more oil you add to a colour the fatter it becomes, it’s as simple as that. Forget about thickness we’re only talking oiliness.

Paint straight out of a tube has a certain amount of oil in it, add a bit of solvent and the paint becomes leaner, add a bit of linseed oil (or other oil) and the paint becomes fatter.

For some reason a lot of artists don’t spell out exactly what you’re supposed to do, so, after exhaustive research, I’ve come to the same conclusion that my feeble mind is always forced to come up with – keep it simple.

  • Start your painting with a little bit of solvent added to the paint and do a bit of under painting.
  • For the next layer either paint straight from the tube or add a bit of oil with the solvent.
  • Add more oil and less solvent for each subsequent layer. Forget the solvent if you want and just add a little oil.

That’s it.

Remember, we’re talking only small amounts of solvent and oil, I hate it when the paint gets too watery (technically solventy or oily). Oil paint feels best when it’s lovely and creamy.

I never mix enough and find myself scratting around on the palette for the last remnants of my yellow ochre and cad red mix – don’t do it, mix plenty of paint you tight arse.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

Fat over lean
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