Right before Christmas, I threatened to finish a carved box with an oak lid. I came close, but at the last minute decided to take a break instead and leave that box for 2020. Once I let it slide, I decided to add painted background to the carvings. It’s been a while since there’s been paint on the blog, so here goes.
To paint a box like this requires a tiny amount of paint. I poured a bit of linseed oil/mineral spirits mixture into this shallow dish. Then squeezed a dollop of some vermilion artists’ oil paint. Next I dipped a wood shaving into a jar of iron oxide dry pigment. The vermilion is just a touch to brighten up the iron oxide. By itself it can be too brick-ish. Red lead was often used in the 17th century, which would be brighter too. If you have some Japan drier that will help the paint/oil combo dry quicker than usual. Mixing in a bit of raw umber can help in the same regard…I had neither the day I decided to do this. So my paint will dry VERY slowly.
Then mush them all together. I often use a glass muller and a piece of plate glass (sort of a flat mortar & pestle) if I have a lot of paint to make. But with this small amount there’s no need to get too carried away. The iron oxide is ground so fine that it dissolves pretty well.
Then it’s like an oak coloring book. A narrow round brush, thin paint and easy does it.
I did all the red first, then shifted over to black for the other color. A standard color combination for that period. Easily sourced colors. The black can be bone-black, lampblack and other sources too. All charcoal/carbon derived.
It’s easy to over-think the paint scheme. It’s pretty casual, just alternating the black and red as much as you can. Without getting too picky about it. This is the front, painted and now waiting to dry.
The ends of this box are carved too, so I painted them at the same time.
Clean-up is a pain. Rather than find a way to dispose of leftover paint, I have been highlighting the carvings in the shop. I had some red leftover and got up on the ladder and painted part of this tie-beam above my bench. I only made it halfway across the room. So next time I’m using red paint I’ll get at the other end.
here’s some earlier clean-up work.
Many art supply stores carry dry pigments for people who want to mix their own paint. The web has plenty of them, I’ve used this site before https://www.dickblick.com/products/gamblin-artists-grade-pigments/
I painted that box on Dec 24 and it’s not dry yet. Patience. I made the oak lid today and will fit it next week. If the paint’s dry.
Jennie Alexander & I wrote a bit about making & using paint like this in our Joint Stool book. https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree