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Nov 12, 2014

A Decent Fake Lead White...



Another quick one for today...

I was talking to someone at Gamblin Oil Colors this morning and our conversation reminded me of a photograph I took down in Laguna Beach last month. Many of you know I am a bit old-school and like to paint with Lead White (a.k.a., Flake White). And as of late it has become harder and harder to find suitable lead white in stores across the country because the quality has been going down or the cost has been going up. Why? Because fewer color houses are making it for oil painters. Scared away by the terrors of over stated toxicity.



Here I am, last month, on the main beach at sunset during the 16th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational. Working on the painting honored with the Mathewson Foundation Award. No lead white paint being used here, but another 'magical elixir' instead...


As a result I've recently been using a combination of Titanium/Zinc White and Gamblin's Titanium White from their Fastmatte™ line. I often put both on the palette side by side. (see below)

The Fastmatte White is extremely short and stiff and it imparts both qualities to any other paint you mix it into. So I have found if you mix a little FM Titanium white into a traditional titanium white and add a teenie-weensie bit of yellow or cadmium orange to warm things up you will end up with a mixture that looks and acts a lot like lead white. The FMTW softens the opacity of the T/ZW, and the shorter, stiffer characteristics retain the texture of your brush strokes. It's great for quickly building up a paint layer or for applying those last touches of juicy impasto. And yes, it is perfectly okay to mix the two kinds of paint in any proportion. No worries there.

Not every painter will like the way this combination works, but I do. Plus, the alkyd resin in the Fastmatte acts like an accelerator and speeds up the 'drying' time of your thicker paint film – making traveling with wet painting easier. This FMTW plus traditional TW is what I took to Europe last year and my paintings were dry to the touch within 18 hours.


My palette during the Laguna competition...

This close up photo shows how I have been laying out both whites on my larger palette. The traditional T/ZW is on your left and the FMTW is on your right. With the whites in line like this I can use a brush or knife to quickly scoop up one or the other as needed. Or I can easily pick up a little of both if I want an intermediate mixture.

I still love to paint with lead white and want to see it survive as an option for future painters because nothing can truly replace it. Not even this ad-hoc solution. But these days I am less worried that some crazy ill-informed congress will legislate it off our palette. If that actually occurs in the near future I will be frustrated, but at least I know there is a viable option if it does.

If you try this let me know what you think...


#thomaskitts
#pleinair
#lpapa16th
#painting

5 reader comments:

Sergio Lopez said...

Interesting, do you ever mix up a batch and tube it for convenience?

Thomas Kitts said...

That is a great question, Sergio but I don't see much advantage to doing so. I keep the whites separate so I can decide on the fly how much of either I want to mix into the other colors. And when. Also, mixing and then tubing the whites would work oxygen into the paint and possibly cause the paint to prematurely oxidize (dry) in the tube (aka, livering).

But give it a try yourself and let me know if my guess is correct. I'd be curious...

Sergio Lopez said...

I think you're right. I use the Fastmatte every now and again and it settles up SOO quickly, it's almost like acrylic in some situations. I have some small empty tubes I can play with. I'll let you know.

Cris Bes said...

Are you still experimenting with these two white paints together? If so how is it going?

Thomas Kitts said...

Yes Cris, I am still using them in conjunction with each other.

I was actually using the combo here:

https://www.facebook.com/thomaskitts/videos/10208259217706159/?pnref=story

I have even had a few talks with the folks at Gamblin about tubing up the mix. But to do so takes away the advantages of mixing your own proportions on the fly, something I vary as circumstances demand, or, if there is a specific effect I am want.

But for the next few months, I am going back to painting directly with Lead White again. W&N and Old Holland for the most part. I just love what LW can do and it is so good imparting strength in the paint film.