Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Comparison of Whites

I've collected a bunch of white oil paints over the years, and recently I read that certain whites dry more slowly than others. Apparently titanium white is one of the slowest-drying whites. So I made a little chart of the whites that I have and dated them to see how long they really do take to dry. The results were pretty shocking.

Winsor & Newton's Foundation White is made of lead carbonate and zinc white. Needless to say, I don't use this paint on model horses. I bought it just to see what it was like because it's supposed to be the most stable and reliable white for underpainting on canvas. It's very heavy in the tube and very, very warm, almost yellow. It has very weak tinting strength. But boy, does it dry fast! Within hours. It's very dry to the touch within a day. Too bad it's poisonous, because this would be ideal for mixing colors on a model.

W&N's Flake White Hue and Titanium White took over a month to dry. They both have nice, creamy consistencies, but the dry time is completely unacceptable.

Gamblin Tit/Zinc White is the white that I use when painting my flat artwork. I love the consistency of it. It took almost as long to dry as the two listed above, though.

Rembrandt Titanium White is what I have been using for my model horses, and I was disappointed to find that it took almost a month to dry, also. I don't paint my final white markings with oils, but I do use white when mixing and during initial lay-in, so I thought I'd look for something else.

I think I have finally found an acceptable white, Winsor & Newton Underpainting White. It's Titanium White with a small amount of zinc, and the tech at W&N told me that there is a slight grain added for better adhesion, and a metallic drier added to make it dry faster. They will never tell me the exact ingredients or proportions of anything, but this is what the tech recommended to me after I explained the way that I paint.

Underpainting White has kind of a weird consistency to it (probably the grain that the tech mentioned) that took a little getting used to, but it does indeed dry much faster than regular Titanium White. On my sample, it was dry within a couple of days, much better than a month! It is a little more gray than the other whites, but that's no problem for me because I always mix different colors into my white anyway, and like I said I don't use it as the final coat. So hopefully this will speed up my painting process a little more.

I hope this was helpful!


tarayith said...

Thanks for comparing them! I'm considering taking my first leap into painting with oils soon, but I'm trying to lurk on as many blogs that talk about oils as possible before I buy stuff, so I can avoid some of these problems :D

Lynn A. Fraley said...

Really interesting Carol. Is it safe to assume when blending colors that you should plan for the dry time of the slowest-dying component? Or does the mix of "chemistry" render a completely different dry-time than the individual paints by themselves?

Carol said...

Lynn, I don't really think too much about the dry time other than worry about how long it's taking lol! There are so many chemicals involved in painting these pieces that I don't know what's going on, to be honest.

I haven't worked with this white long enough to see if it affects the dry time in a mix, though I'm assuming it would.