As a new oil painter, you might have the experience of enjoying a day of painting, thinking your work looks good, and then returning the next day to a canvas that looks dull, hazy, and gray. It happens to everyone, and artist Katie Liddiard is here to explain why it happens and how to bring your painting back to life. Katie shows us a painting she’s made that’s lost some of its vibrancy, explaining that some colors, especially darker hues, can get sunken into the ground. If you’ve used an acrylic gesso to prepare your canvas, this tendency for the ground to suck the oil from the pigment can be especially strong. The colors then look disappointingly dull and the painting flat.
It’s important to address this, Katie says, so you can continue painting while seeing your intended value range. The process of “oiling out” the painting will revive it. Katie begins by picking up some of her medium with her brush—just a small amount—and adding a touch of mineral spirits in a ratio of about three parts mineral spirits to one part medium. Using the brush, she rubs this mixture on the entire surface of the painting. All of the lost tones and depth of color return! Katie suggests avoiding using too much oil, as it can deteriorate your painting. Next, wipe off the excess with a paper towel (some artists like to use a makeup sponge for this step). Check out your painting at an angle to be sure you didn’t miss any spots. Now, paint on!