The Waving Flag: Painter's Miscellany #1

Monday 2 September 2019

Painter's Miscellany #1

Here are a couple of things that have arisen recently as I work on my pile of unpainted figures.

[1] An Oldie but Goodie
This is partly a personal aide-mémoire and partly a general tip for users of brush on varnishes.

When I post pictures of my finished work in various forums I often receive comments about how flat my figures appear.  To be helpful, I often include a link in my reply with instructions on how to adapt commercial varnishes to improve their matting properties.  However, I've been doing this for so long that I have forgotten that this isn't the full story.

Through personal experience I found that the appearance of the varnish always depends on the surface to which it's applied.  If the final paint layer isn't matt, or close to matt, then the varnish may struggle especially if the paint layer is porous. This is often the case with the deep shades of reds, red browns, blues and some greens.  I have even known matt browns dry with a sheen when varnished. The solution is to add a touch of talc to the paint which seals the paint layer.

So to summarize: don't rely on the varnish alone.  Flat, matt figures come from ensuring both the paint and varnish are sealed and as matt as possible; all achieved by adding a touch of talc. Simple really.

[2] Paint Palette
For years now I have used a cheap plastic paint palette on a homemade "Lazy Susan" made from parts a unwanted spice rack:

The palettes are really cheap and essentially disposable but there's one problem.  As residual paint builds up in the wells it becomes difficult to use fresh paint. So every week or so my palette requires cleaning.

As the palette ages cleaning becomes more and more of a chore. Some paints stick resolutely to the plastic.  Most come off with a soak in hot water but it could be easier.  A fair bit of scraping is involved.  After a few months the palette is covered in unsightly scratches.  My solution is a ceramic palette:

This is almost the same size as the plastic one I was using.  More to the point even dried on paint softens and comes off easily under a stream of hot water: quick and efficient.    It's so easy I've started washing the palette after each painting session!

The only drawback is they aren't exactly cheap.  Mine cost me £11.99 post free from a UK eBay seller.  That's more than ten times the cost of the plastic one but one must maintain one's standards.

1 comment :

Seb Palmer said...

This is a very interesting post for me. Not so much re the palette (although that is interesting as well), but more re matt finishes. I'm just getting back into figure painting after a long run of mostly model making. And glossy finishes, even from supposedly matt paints, have been annoying me. I'll definitely be returning to learn more from you on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

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