Saturday, March 10, 2012

In this picture, I have removed a small amount of elemi/turpentine solution, with a small eye dropper.

In this picture, I have added an equal volume of the elemi/turpentine solution, to the copal medium, that was placed on the glass plate.

I next mixed the elemi/turpentine, with the copal, and used a small palette knife to accomplish this. I call this medium: Bouguereau Medium.

I then placed several same size nuts of ivory black oil paint, made by Liquitex, and comparable piles of titanium white oil paint, that I made last year, onto a paper palette. Next I added a drop of the medium to one piles of black, and one pile of white.

Next using two of the same brushes, I quickly mixed the oil paint that was without the medium; just oil paint alone (as depicted on the left).

Then using a clean brush of the exact same type, I mixed the black and white paints which contained the small amount of elemi/copal medium, together, very rapidly, using the same strokes. This is depicted on the right.

The paints were the same (type/amount), the brushes were the same, and the strokes were the same, but the paint with the elemi/copal blended much better. It blended with a great amount of ease. Although certainly not scientific, and for all intents and purposes a quick and dirty demo, it should illustrate my point. Just two drops dramatically alter the paint.

Although oil paint alone is known for its blending properties, and copal has some great effects, the elemi, permits a blending that is so easy, it almost does it for you. It is a pleasure to work with, and permits a paint film that has a super sfumato effect. One can easily obscure all edges, and then come back and add some hard, wherever they want, for contrast; with great eases. The elemi also thins out the ultimate medium, so that it is thinner than those containing Venice turpentine, or Canada balsam. The colors just go right into each other. The paint alone does blend, and could be blended further, but the effect would not be the same. With the same strokes, one just goes together, and in the other image, the paints maintain their individual value properties, to a greater extent.

Obviously, this medium would not be good, if a more impasto, painterly approach is desired.

I would further add that this medium permits a very smooth level surface, to a larger extent than even the other balsams do.

At one point I got some of the turpentine containing elemi on my fingers, and it felt no different than regular turpentine, until the turp evaporated. My fingers stuck together. This illustrates why I think it should be combined with an oil, and shouldn't be added directly to paint.
A couple of weeks ago, I combined the elemi in a 50/50 mix with a good quality stand oil, as I wanted to see it copal was necessary. In effect see how this performs. Since stand oil is commonly thinned with turp, and it does have properties that are similar to mediums containing hard resins, I thought that the elemi may approximate the effects of copal, and thus make the copal medium redundant. The stand oil is very tough and flexible as is, and the elemi will provide a measure of flexibility, and grab. Also, since the medium is crystal clrea, it won't change colors at all. I haven't tried this Elemi/Stand Oil Medium yet, but will be doing so soon. Fingers crossed!

I have never known of any elemi mediums to be available for sale, anywhere since I have been involved with painting, over the past 20 years. Obviously gum elemi is still available, and there are materials for sealing wood etc., yet I don't know of any elemi mediums being sold as such (i.e. a medium to create soft flesh tones, a well blended effect, an level surface, and for any and all of the properties that the material gum elemi imparts). Even in times gone by, I suspect that artists such as Bouguereau (being quite creative, and fully aware of materials) combined materials, and made these things themselves. I have worked hard for years to develop these ideas and mediums. Much trial and error.

Best regards, Jim Trankina

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