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Newsletter 1 - Oct 17, 05
Newsletter 2 - Nov. 17, 05


Robert Bissett

Oil Painting Rub-Out


-Plastered panel

-14” x 14” rags, 50 – 60% polyester, and cotton, old sheets best.

-1 #4 sable fan brushes, blending; 3 for speed painting

-1 #6 sable fan brushes, blending; 3 for speed painting

-1 #6 hogs hair fan brush

-1 #8 flat badger hair and/or

-1 #8 flat bristle

-1 #4 flat sable, worn out, for sketching on panel

-1 #2 flat badger hair for details

- 2” bristle, disposable

- Palette knife

- Linseed oil

- Burnt Umber

- Burnt Sienna

- Ultramarine blue, glazing

- Lemon yellow, glazing          

- Alizarin Crimson, glazing

- Gold, silver, copper leaf, imitation

- Mineral Spirits

- Acetone

- Masking tape

- Oil of cloves, retard drying

- Cobalt drier, Cobalt naphthenate, accelerate drying

- Tracing paper tablet, palette

- Paintng/Glazing medium

    - 1 part Damar varnish

    - 1 part Stand oil

    - 5 parts Mineral spirits, odorless

- Alkyd medium, optional, new, better

Rub-out process…Vignette:

    1.  Rub Linseed oil over panel with rag, covering well, wipe off excess.

2.      Position the head on the panel by sketching the outline with the old #4 flat sable and a little paint mixed with linseed oil.

3.      75% Bt. Umber and 25% Bt. Sienna to retard drying.  Bt. Umber dries in two hours, Bt. Sienna in six.  This mixture should dry in about four.  Add a drop of oil of cloves to retard to about six hours.  No more than 10 drops in one inch of paint, dries in 16 hours.

4.      Using the same rag you rubbed the oil on with, rub on the paint mixture.  Establish the major shapes, solid dark over the face.  Extend over top and sides .

5.      The face will be the detailed area, surround it with impressionistic work and then abstract.  Or as desired.

6.      Smooth out the paint layer with the 2” bristle.  Get rid of areas of heavier paint. Scrub and pounce if required on the sides to fill cracks, etc.

7.      Begin rub-out.  Go for the big statement first.  Cover the ball of your thumb with the rag and pull tight.  Wipe big areas first, working toward smallest.  Move to a clean area of the rag, wipe again.  May take several wipes to make it light enough.  Use ball of the thumb and the side, the index finger, thumb and finger nail, and tip of the brush handle…all wrapped in the cloth.

8.      Squint at your reference material to see values.

9.      You may need to add more paint to darken an area…use a brush or finger.

10.  Blend, get rid of any heavy application.

11.  Gradate a rubbed out area with the fan brush.

12.  Soften edges with the fan brush.

13.  Make a pointed corner by folding the cloth four times, eight layers, for small areas.

14.  Work back and forth, wiping out, blending in, adding paint here and there.

15.  Runs.  When satisfied with the rub-out, load the bristle fan with thinner and cobalt drier for runs.  Working in the impressionistic area, lower edge, thin the paint and let it run to the bottom.

16.  Sign with paint and linseed oil.

17.  Spattering with mineral spirits.  Lay the panel on the floor.  Cover detailed areas to be preserved with tracing paper. Start by standing and flinging/spattering drops.  Work down to a foot or less to the surface and running the fan over a finger to spatter.  Remove the tracing paper and spatter close along the masked edges to eliminate the sharp line.

18.  Let dry two days and apply glaze if needed.  Two more days and glaze again.

19.  Can apply gold, silver or copper leaf to background to punch it up.

20.   Varnish.  Use the Damar painting/glazing medium above, apply with the hogs hair fan brush, one coat.  No point in waiting 12, 6 or 3 months as per directions.


1.      The plaster mixture can be tinted with acrylic paint.

2.      The plastered panel can be painted with acrylic paint so that the color shows as you rub out the oil paint.

3.      Two coats of Titanium White acrylic will seal the panel and make rub-out easier.

4.      Could apply plaster to panel with a 5” cotton roller, Shearline.

5.      For a big painting that will require more than one day to rub out, do it in sections, feathering the edges where work will continue the next day.

6.      In a hurry?  Let the finished painting dry a couple hours.  Spray with one coat of retouch varnish.  This coat will not last.  Later the new owner will need to take it to a local artist to be varnished properly.

General tips:

1.      Recommended books:  Alla Prima, Everything  know About Painting by Richard Schmid, 2004, $58 paperback, $106 Hardcover,  Eye of the Artist, used.  Art Spirit.  The Artist’s Handbook, Ralph Mayer.  Acrylic Painting Techniques, North Light Books, 1995...I’m featured in this one!  The Simple Secret to Better Painting, Greg Albert, North Light.  Norman Rockwell Illustrator by Arthur L Guptill, 3rd Edition, 1970, Watson-Guptill, learn his creative and technical process.  Or, How I Make a Picture, by Norman Rockwell, 1983, Watson-Guptill.  The Portrait Photographer's Guide to Posing, Bill Hurter, Amherst Media, 2004.

2.      Photograph painting.  Room with one window.  Set the painting against a black background.   The camera and tripod is behind a black cloth curtain with a hole for the lens to prevent reflections.  Camera must be centered on the painting and square with it.  Old way:  Use 100 ASA print film.  Set on manual use shutter release cable or timer.  Take 24 prints and 24 slides at one time all of the same painting, two cameras.  New way:  A digital camera, computer and internet connection.  It is now possible to send your digital photo in an email to http://www.slides.com/ and they will make slides for you.  Even a low end digital camera will work.  No need to waste film bracketing each shot.  Crop, edit and adjust in PaintShop Pro

3.      Photographing models.  Use the same room with one window idea.  Take nine angles of each pose:  Three heights from the front, three from 45 degrees to the right and three 45 degrees to the left.  Could rotate the model with the same pose so the light makes different shadows and take nine more.  Shoot adults up to ennoble.  Try side lighting, front and rear 45* lighting, back lighting.  Important the model is relaxed.  Ask questions:  What tribe?  What’s that pendant?  Coach them to get the mood your after.

4.      Compensating models.  $10 an hour.  A good model you would like to establish a professional relationship with, can be signed to a simple contract printed on parchment paper:  “I, __________, give permission to _______ to use my photos in his art.  I, _______________, will give 10% of my net profit from the use of these photos for life.”  A four thousand dollar painting sold in a gallery might result in ~$145 for the model.

5.      Colors.  You need three mineral pigments red, yellow, blue.  And three vegetable pigments for glazing.  Mineral:  Bt. Sienna, Bt. Umber, Yellow Ochre.  Vegetable:  Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue.

6.      Can use Bt. Umber for the darker areas and Bt. Sienna for the lighter.

7.      Promotion.  Have available photo of yourself, slide and print, for newspaper.  Enter 5 star paintings in shows.

8.      At first let only 3, 4 and 5 star paintings out of the studio.  As you improve only 4 and 5 star, then only 5 star.

9.      Write down all inspirations that come to you.  They may lead to something.

10.   Easel Time.  Beginner:  25% block in; 25% mid; 50% detail  Pro:  25% block in; 50% mid; 25% detail.

11.   Easel, home made.  Two three foot doors side-by-side connected with a 1x2x6’ strip at the top and bottom.  Use a 1x4x6’ board and two big spring clamps to set panels on.

Thanks to Lou Maestas