A while back I emailed Gamblin asking them about a solution for my dilemma of finding a solvent-free, faster-drying palette. They were super helpful and said if I just use their products then all my problems would vanish like refined mineral spirits into the air. I would lose weight, I’d be fun, sexy, and my life would be one long beer commercial.
Then they sent me a super helpful list of the drying rates of all of their oil colors. I found that I could actually build a palette out of colors that dry faster naturally. And if I were to add walnut alkyd medium, I could have everything dry overnight, without the aid of solvents or other drying agents.
I also spoke by phone with the elusive M. Graham about his mysterious walnut alkyd medium. He told me it was safe. In fact, it was “salad grade” safe. You could literally eat it. Though he didn’t recommend that because it had a “mild laxative effect.”
I see. Haha. Well, Mr. M. Graham, I’m not asking if I can eat your products. I want to paint with them and your little jokes are not very funny.”
But so far he has been right (not about the laxative part. I haven’t tried that yet. Not saying I haven’t snuck some into other people’s food, just that I haven’t personally consumed any yet.) But he was right about the overall safety of the product. I have been using it for about a year now and have had no adverse effects. And surprisingly it works as advertised.
So the secret so far is this:
Build a palette based on colors that all dry in under 4 days, and walnut alkyd medium. The walnut alkyd medium speeds the drying time up a little bit faster than 2x the usual speed, depending on the humidity in the air.
If you want to speed it up further, you can place the paintings under a car windshield, or a heat lamp. Or light it on fire. But you need to be careful with all of those.
For sky in the Ents piece, I am using these Gamblin oil colors:
Pthalo blue – (4 days to dry)
Cerulean Blue Hue – (4 days to dry)
Payne’s Gray (4 days to dry)
Titanium-Zinc White (3 to 4 days to dry)
With the medium it probably took about 24 hours until it was touch dry.
The reds are a bit more tricky, as most reds are very long drying colors. (Alizarin, the Cads and the Quinacridones are all at least 6 day dryers) Which mean you are stuck with Iron Oxide based reds. Still, you can get a surprising range with them.
For Smaug I have used:
Raw Sienna (4 days)
Brown Pink (4 days)
Hansa Yellow Deep (4 days)
Transparent Yellow Earth (3 days)
And these all dried very quickly. Later on, when I don’t need as many layers, I can switch into a broader palette and take advantage of Alizarin’s cooler tones. But the above colors, which all dry overnight, are perfect for these early color layers.