The Mixed Technique and indirect painting

October 14, 2020

A Piece of Me #07, the mixed technique on panel.

A Piece of Me #07, the mixed technique on panel.

The “mixed technique”, as I use it, refers to the development of an egg/oil emulsion that can be used to grind amounts of dry pigment powder into a useable paint OR using that same emulsion to extend already existing manufactured tube oil colour into a faster drying, leaner paint. Some scholars and painters claim that the “oil technique” discovered in the fifteenth century by the Northern Renaissance painters (beginning with Van Eyck) was actually a discovery of this emulsion. While others claim that Van Eyck’s new oil technique (or “mische techniek”) consisted of the judicious use of oil glazes over a well developed egg tempera underpainting. Whether there actually was an in-between phase of a new emulsion (as described above) appears to be a matter of debate. You can find authoritative resources either way. For myself, I have tried creating paintings with both approaches but, like a moth to the flame, continue to be drawn to this new emulsion and the effects it creates. My results have reflected the analogy correspondingly: sometimes scintillating; sometimes trash.

A Piece of Me #37, the mixed technique on panel.

A Piece of Me #37, the mixed technique on panel.

This “new emulsion” then dries more slowly than egg tempera and yet faster than oil. It allows for smoother transitions in blending. It also allows for wet-in-wet brush stroke integrity (which the oil technique, when applied wet-in-wet tends to slur). Relative to the emulsion recipe I use, when created freshly, it looks and handles like mayonnaise. Because it’s created with methyl cellulose glue instead of an egg yolk it lasts a lot longer. An emulsion created with the yolk of an egg should create a well functioning “mayonnaise” too, I just haven’t tried it. 

For this series of panels I applied the few steps with which I have become familiar over the years:

  • the choice of a firm substrate, in this case, a 3 mm HDF panel with a hardwood veneer on both sides
  • sizing the panel with rabbit skin glue
  • coating the panel with approximately 10 layers of traditional chalk gesso
  • another coat of size to reduce absorbency
  • a well developed underdrawing, created with india ink. Depending on the subject matter, sometimes pen and ink, sometimes a series of washes, sometimes both.
  • a well developed underpainting
  • a clear glaze painted on and allowed to dry for approximately 15 minutes before wiping off
  • mixing emulsion into my colors as I painted into this clear glaze
  • doing so made for smooth, easy to blend transitions
  • you can click this link for a full view of the mixed technique series of panels for the A Piece of Me project

 

13 Responses to “The Mixed Technique and indirect painting”


  1. […] Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  2. […] Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  3. […] Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  4. […] The whole is already more three dimensional than its underpainting. I’ll take it.Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  5. […] One of the most interesting aspects of this particular collaged panel was my pants cuff. It projects a few millimeters from the rest of the composition (!). Really. During the oil level, I found that balancing the warm whites of my pants, socks and the plastered wall with my skin tone was all made possible by the value adjustments inherent to the composition (and the judicious use of a warm-gray pigment from the tube). BTW: I prefer my grays warm and I don’t mix them on the palette. It’s too difficult to consistently achieve an elusive neutrality (which may not exist anyway). Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  6. […] This panel was executed over a pre-prepared lightly sculpted pastiglia. On the pastiglia level I tried to create the effect of folds of clothing: the bends of my linen jacket and the flowing shirt of the lady standing behind me to the right. Unfortunately, due to my method of creating the pastiglia, a number of pinholes appeared in the gesso of the linen jacket. The oil was able to hide some, but otherwise it’s not an ideal situation, kinds like acne, you learn to live with the scars. The light jacquard pattern of the lady’s blue blouse was a nice surprise for me as I began to work on the enlarged image. Fun to render! Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  7. […] Just finished this one yesterday. I was trying to create enough difference between my off-white linen pants and my oatmeal colored linen jacket. As you can see in the underpainting on the right there was little differentiation between the two. An additional challenge occurred with my knuckles upper left. I had done the underpainting (again, see right) in terra verte (green) so turning that into living flesh always presents its own challenge. All in all I was very pleased with the way the panel turned out, especially with my linen jacket. Very touchy-feely. That’s the aim. Full description of the whole project here. Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  8. […] I think it’s one of the most beautiful ones yet. There’s a lovely range of values with a simplified yet harmonious contrast of hues (the warm yellow-orange fields tend to push the warm gray shadows towards their complement). The architectural details provide a graphical contrast of curves, lines and larger open fields. Since it is (or will be) a panel that fits into the far background of the greater composition, I tried to be careful to not make the shadowed elements too dark. (Of course, when the final painting is assembled some adjustments can be made, if necessary). Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  9. […] Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  10. […] Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  11. […] Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  12. […] Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


  13. […] Write up on the mixed technique here. […]


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