Fat Over Lean Oil Painting Technique

The fat over lean painting technique is one of the most basic oil painting techniques. This technique can help you avert the cracking of paintings due to the varied durations that the paint takes to dry.

It is advisable to ensure that the lower layers of paint are completely dry before adding other layers of paint on top of them.

How do you get fat oil

Fat oil paint derives its name from mixing paint with oil - adding oil thickens it more. By just a touch, you can tell if it is dry under the surface is fat or not. This phenomenon results in fat paint that takes a relatively longer time to dry as compared to lean paint.

Lean oil paint on the other hand derives from combining paint with turpentine, which is a rather light spirit with fast drying constituents. When painting fat over lean oil, it is advisable not to add too much oil in the paint as this will change the properties of the oil paint and require long periods of time to dry.

Painting fat over lean is a self-explanatory phenomenon where you use thin oil paints on the initial layers, but as the layers double up, they should be much thicker. The upmost coating comprises of the thickest blend of paint.

Paints with little oil percentage dry within no time and they colors such as Prussian, ultramarine, flake white and titanium white. In addition, those with higher oil percentage take around five days to dry and they include cadmium red and cadmium yellow.

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Fat on lean oil painting tips

• In cases where the oil paint has crease lines or wrinkles, this could be caused by the usage of a higher proportion of oil.

• In cases where your oil paint turns yellows and becomes dull following dying, this is a tell tale sign that it the paint is a not of a good quality.

For beginners who are attempting fat over lean, it is advisable to utilize the leanest paint blend for the initial layer of painting.

As more coatings are added, you can make them thicker. Use the fattest blend for the last coating. This paint comes directly from the tube. The leanest blend are best to use when sketching lines and creating shades in the image. A thicker blend can also be of use for finer points.

Initially, a thin paint employed will depict the initial framework of what the painting is supposed to be. Thicker paints come into play to give the painting’s finer details. It is advisable to intensify the paint’s thickness gradually as opposed to a sudden shift from thin to thick paint.

Importance of painting fat over lean

The reason as to why fat paint goes over lean paint is that lean paint desiccates more rapidly than fat paint. Painting fat paint over lean paint is therefore improper, as it will most certainly result in cracking on the paintwork. This is because the fat paint will still be wet underneath the lean paint coating. Painting fat over lean paint ensures that paintings stand the test of time and that they do not crack. 

Using this technique is a sure way to create paintings that will last for a long time, and pass on through generations to come.


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