On Paint

Random Tips On Painting (taken from my correspondence)
Last updated July 25th, 2006

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If you buy paint, remember there are two families of blue: 1 is ultramarine,
2 is most of the rest (cerulean, phtalo, ophtalm, and cobalt). The darkest
blue is prussian, but this is difficult to mix as it is very green. For red just
buy a big tube of cadmium red. Don't forget white, which always goes very

Transparent Oilpaint

If you want to paint dark trees and bushes, sap green is the only way to keep
the green green. Few people know that and sometimes it's hard to find. Raw
sienna looks like yellow ochre, always use the sienna and throw the ochre away.
There's also a rare color called gold ochre, that's a rich yellow brown. Stil de grain
is made in brown and yellow. Beautiful but probably very expensive.
I just remembered I bought a tube of german Sap Green once which was all wrong:
it wasn't clear paint, there was white in it, and even the color wasn't the right sort
of green. Other tubes of that brand ("Goya") had slightly wrong colors too. But one
of these tubes had a strange color, called Caput Mortuum, a clear, dark violet which
is apparently popular with fakers of old art. A very good color for horror paintings
too! (The name means Deaths' Head)


For glazing one only takes the tiniest needlepoint of paint on the point of a brush,
and mixes this with a drop of oil and varnish. The last time I wanted to paint a very
red sunset, when the red was dry, I made it more orange by rubbing a little yellow
(stil de grain) over the red. The surface should be quite dry and could have been
varnished as well. When it's dry (sometimes only a few hours, sometimes days) you
can do it again and each time the colors are stronger. I suppose it's difficult, because
it's easy to ruin a painting that's almost finished. Colors applied very thinly on a light
background cause the illusion of a light shining through. The first layer is still part-
ly visible through the new paint. That way you also get colors that are much better.
If you have a first layer that's dry and paint over it thickly, then it's not a second
layer but a whole new painting. There's nothing wrong with that, but you don't profit
from the first layer.


You need at least a bottle of retouching varnish. When the paintings are ready and
have dried as long as possible, you can apply finishing varnish (matt or glossy, can
be mixed as well). I always have heavier varnish or lacquer as well (like "yacht-
lacquer" which has a hard gleam, is waterproof but yellow-ish) not for the oil-
paint but parts I want to gleam, like the gold painted beads etc.
When paint is really thin, it's possible it's wiped away when it's being varnished.
In such a case, touch every spot just once with the varnish brush.


You need some more expensive brushes because when wet these form a point.
But be careful with them, never just push them into substances. Move the brush
through paint, vaseline etc. from where the hairs are fastened, into the direc-
tion of the point (=move the brush backwards). Otherwise the hairs will be bent
and can't form a good point anymore.

Gold Paint

Strange, until a few years ago paint shops only sold tins of gold laquer paint,
and you don't see that anymore! It's been replaced by any number of weird
chemical inventions. Stationary and art shops sell little tubes and pots on
waterbase etc, but sometimes you can't paint on these with oil paint, or if
you need a lot it's too expensive. Ca 5 years ago I bought a large tin which
smelt evilly, modern tins may not smell anymore but may make you just as
sick. Apply quickly, ventillate & leave the room as it dries.
In some of my paintings ("past emotions" ) I've applied the gold to the whole
canvas, it provides a good underground to paint on.
In the little painting of birds I applied it on wood, and in some places brushed
the oilpaint lightly over the gold, so that the deep nerves in the wood, with gold
in them, remained visible.
Yes, you should use gold sparingly. But I've used it on some chairs and when it
wears a little, it looks rather nice. Because it gleams differently, it can really
enhance painting. If you think the gold's too much, you can paint over it with oil
paint, that can be very beautiful. But try it out on something else first, you
can't undo it.

This afternoon I went to a paint shop to buy some gold paint, I bought 3 diffe-
rent colors and one silver (they also had a very expensive gold paint and
I regret now not having bought it. Maybe it was very good?). I just tried them
out on a piece of wood, the 2 that are turpentine-aceton-or-tetra- based aren't
dry yet, but I can see that all the colors are different. The other 2, silver & gold
are waterbased. That water silver and gold are very good, and dry really quick.
Only a few years ago silver paint wasn't any good. More a metallic grey than silver.
It's strange that this water paint is the first silver paint I saw, that looks
a bit silvery. I The soft plastic bottles are 250 ml, that's a lot more than these
little hobby pots, price ca. 8 euro. But you can't use it on every surface. Though the
dealer told me someone had painted his bath with it, and it didn't wear off! But all
this stuff is dangerous, don't put it in your mouth. The gold is very light and it
looks as if it is full of little glitters, very interesting.


If a wooden board is made of several layers of wood, or made of glued sawdust,
it can't warp and you can place it near a radiator (painted side turned towards heat)
to speed up drying, but watch it carefully, if the paint becomes too hot it may fall off!
In summer, if you have a spot hit by sunlight, put wet paintings in the (direct) sunlight.

Bad Smells

When I use things that smell bad, I keep the balcony door open. But in winter I keep
it closed and when I just use oil paint, I don't have any problem. Oilpaint itself is the
most harmless of paints. Linseed oil smells only if you use too much.Try using just a
little. It's really possible to paint with oil without becoming sick. Unless the room is
absolutely too small!
Some ideas:
-try other white spirit, from another shop
-keep it in 2 glass pots, which have caps which you can close easily when you don't
use it; before use pour in clean pot, after use pour it back in the first pot, in which the
dregs can collect
-buy white spirit that doesn't smell
-put cloths with turpentine smell outside to dry
-use less paint when you're painting. No need to smear it on so thickly.It also dries
quicker. Don't waste any white spirit, just pour some in the pot.
-don't put the painting near the radiators, it smells more.
-ventilate; when it's not freezing just open a window.

Bird Sticking Out Of Painting

I'm working on the plastic bird painting now. That beak is quite formidable!
I keep having visions of people being pushed with their eye towards that beak,
like in a Fulci film. I hope I'll finish it quickly.

A Snack

Since I'm painting again I eat a lot more. I just rediscovered a wonderful old
recipe, it's ideal if you have only old bread left. It's called "flensjes": break an
egg in a bowl, add some milk (or 2 milk cups), some water, salt etc; for 2
sandwiches pour this into 1 plate, for 4 into 2 plates; soak sandwiches in this,
taking care that all surfaces are covered; put this in 1 or 2 frying pans; when first
side is a little brown, turn them, put cheese, ham etc. on 1 and put the
other on top of it, brown side inside of course; turn the whole a few times until
it's ready. It's surprisingly nice and a much heavier breakfast than you'd suppose!

Adriaan Brolsma.

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