Oil paints with fast drying time (but not too fast)

As some of you know, I mostly used acrylic paints because they don’t take ages to dry (unlike some of my initial oil paintings which took almost a month to dry). Who wants to wait a month to varnish their painting? Or worse, some artists wait 6 months to a year.

As annoying as the dry time of oil paints can be, you get the best gradients with them. Getting the same quality of gradients in acrylics is very hard. Sometimes acrylic paints dry a few seconds after you lay them down on canvas. Can you imagine doing a sky on a big (36×48 inches) piece? It can get a bit annoying.

Oil paints take too long to dry and acrylic paints dry in a few seconds to a few minutes. I found a solution to this problem by some reading and some experimentation. Oil paints have synthetic mediums which will speed up the dry time like no tomorrow. Some of these mediums can cause the paint layer to dry in 24 hours or less. This, for me, is very ideal. I can do a sky in 6 hours if I need to and then have it be dried the next day for another layer of paint.

Here are some mediums I have experimented with and liked:

Liquin – Made by Windsor and Newton. It is a great medium which will dry your paint in 24 hours depending on how much of it you use in your paint. It is a modern version of the maroger medium. If you do use it, make sure you have proper ventilation or wear a mask that purifies air. It smells horrible and its smell will give you headaches.

Neo-Megilp – Made by Gamblin. This is Gamblin’s version of maroger medium. It usually dries in 3-4 days. However, on some of my paintings it dries in 24 hours or less. I bought it because I wanted it to dry in at least 4 days but most I got from neo-megilp was 2-3 days.

I love Gamblin and everything they make. Their goal is to make high quality painting materials without harming the artist. They have their own version of flake white which is harmless to the artist (vs the original flake white which is full of lead).

Non-toxic gel medium – Made by Gamblin. This contains no solvents for oil paints so it is completely safe to touch, etc. And, it is advertised to dry in 3-4 days as well but in my experience it dries in 2-3 days.

Both liquin and neo-megilp are not completely safe. They should be used be used with proper ventilation ( an open window is enough or a big room with the door open ). Non-toxic gel doesn’t have these limitations.

Now I can paint to my heart’s content, and only wait a day for the paint before putting on another layer of paint. Although these days, I have been painting alla prima (wet into wet) quite a bit so my paint drying in 24 hours has become a bit of an inconvenience. However, I know I can extend the drying time of the paints by mixing some stand oil or linseed oil along with the synthetic mediums so its not too much of a problem.


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My latest painting

Lately, I have been painting a lot of 8×10 paintings on canvas panels. They don’t take much time and you can keep the panel on your lap, or wherever you feel comfortable.

Another advantage of doing an 8×10 inch painting is that you can experiment different with different techniques and see the result fairly quickly.

Anyway, here is my latest painting done for a study on rocks. I call it Sticks and Stones.

Sticks and stones


Beware of the pouring medium

Beware of the pouring medium mixed with water as it can destroy your painting. I had a painting I had been meaning to varnish for a few months and finally decided to do it 3 days ago. For isolation coat, I figured I would use the pouring medium sold by Liquitex. It levels itself and doesn’t leave brush marks making it perfect for an isolation coat. What could go wrong? Right?

Wrong. I mixed the pouring medium with quite a bit of water to get it to flow easily (which was a mistake). It did flow very easily and had the same consistency as water. However, the medium was taking too long to dry so after waiting 2-3 minutes, I started to brush off the excess medium (which was another mistake). After the painting dried, I noticed that sections of it had gone white. The medium dissolved the acrylic paint and probably took the paint with it while I was trying to get excess medium off the canvas.

Needless to say, I redid parts of the painting that had gone white and varnished it again. This time I was very careful and the painting came out looking better than it did before.

Another thing I noticed while painting on top of pouring medium layer is that my paint stayed wet for longer than usual. Not as long as as oil paints do, but long enough that I could blend very easily. I am going to experiment with this new knowledge and see what it goes.

Lessons learned:
– Don’t mix too much water into the pouring medium when using it as an isolation coat for varnish.

– Don’t be impatient after you have varnished or put on an isolation coat. Give it as much time as it needs to dry off. The painting probably would have been ok if I had not tried to brush off excess medium after waiting a few minutes.

– Acrylic mediums can liquify acrylic paint even after it has dried completely.

– High gloss finish looks very good on some paintings.

Here is the painting that almost got destroyed by the pouring medium on the wall of the person who asked me to paint it.


An unconventional painting

Unconventional for me, anyway. This was the first time I painted on a wood plank. I think it came out alright. Here it is:


Hyper-realistic beaky beans

While going through my books, I came across this painting/drawing/whatever-it’s-called I did quite some time ago. I was trying to paint a can of beans but I got the name wrong and a new type of beans were invented – the beaky beans. Here is the painting:


My misadventures with paint brushes and pig hair

When I started painting about a year ago, I knew that I was not allowed to use any brush made of human hair (Islam forbids it to the best of my knowledge). Human hair was very common for soft brushes a few years ago so I took extra pre-cautions and made sure I didn’t buy anything that contained human hair.

Until recently, what I did not know was that brushes made of pig hair are just as common and sought after by professional artists. Whenever an artist referred to a “hog bristle brush” I thought hedgehog hair was used in making that brush (don’t ask me why). You can imagine how disturbed I was when I realized hog bristle actually made of pig hair. “Hog” actually referred to pig.

Anything that says “bristle brush”, “natural bristle brush”, “hog bristle brush”, “china bristle”, “chungking”, etc is made from pig hair

After having learned this, I began to wonder what else is made of pig hair. My investigation surprised me even more. All cheap brushes that claim to be made of “natural bristles” are made from pig hair. Same goes for “bristle” brush. Even more shocking to me was that food brushes are also made of (you guessed it) pig hair. We don’t use brushes to glaze anything in my home but I wonder if there are other Muslims who do (and if they know what their brush is made out of).

I will leave it up to you to figure out if Islam allows using brushes made of pig hair for painting (or to brush your head).

Even if using brushes made of pig hair is allowed for external purposes (painting, combing hair, etc) I would not want to use a food brush made made of “natural bristles” to glaze my food. I have learned how to identify if a brush is made of natural bristles so I can avoid them (maybe I will make another post with details) but for the masses that don’t – be careful :). Use synthetic brushes as much as you can.

Hog bristle food brush
(Natural bristle food brush)


Synthetic alternative to hog bristle brushes

I will add more brushes as I come across them but here is a line of brushes I have fallen in love with :

I bought a few of these brushes and had a chance to try the fan brush. It has become my favorite. Their fan brush is almost as stiff as a hog bristle brush and retains its shape well. I, mostly, paint sceneries with a lot of grass and this brush covered a lot of area in a very short time.

One thing to keep in mind when using their fan brush (like all synthetic fan brushes) is to make sure the paint is not very thick. The brush bristles tend to clump up (more than natural bristle brushes) when there is not enough water in the paint.

The next line of brushes I am going to try (specifically fan and round brushes) are these: The Princeton 6300 series of brushes is supposed to be as stiff as the natural hog bristle brushes.


A big $1.00 peel off palette for acrylic paints

I took up painting as a hobby about a year ago which is when my search for the perfect palette began. After having searched for an easy to clean but inexpensive palette, I came across this at my local Walmart:


I got 2 of these plates and have been using them. They require no effort to clean (like you would expect from a peel off palette).

I have come across artists who use use-and-throw plastic plates as palettes. However, I find these plates are better as they are more durable.


Some very cool features in PHP7

I played around with PHP7 over the weekend and I have to admit it has some very cool things I have wanted PHP to have for a while, and then some. Here are some of them (in no particular order):

  • Performance

    PHP7 will increase the performance of PHP scripts by 50-60%. Nuff said.

  • Anonymous Classes

    I have always been able to do this in Java where I can just define a required object and pass it along.
    Now, you can do the same in PHP (I know that it is a double-edged sword and can leave your code un-organized
    if not used wisely). Here is an example:

    addInsertListener(new Class implements DbInsertObserver {
    	public function log($sql)
    		// log here 

    This can be pretty useful if all you are troubleshooting a production-only issue. Ideally, your testing
    environment will be exactly like your production environment. And, you are able to re-produce every production
    bug in QA but real world is rarely meets ideal standards. We, now, have anonymous classes to help.

  • Scalar type-hinting and Return type hinting

    Ever since PHP introduced type-hinting, I have been using it everywhere I can. It helps with static analysis of code
    and helps prevent bugs (although I love the freedom that comes with PHP not being a statically typed language).

    Note: like previous versions of PHP, PHP7 will not force its user (the PHP developer) to type-hint anything. So, old scripts
    will still work.

  • Removal of date.timezone warning

    Every time you use a date method, PHP would throw a warning if you didn't have a default timezone set in php.ini
    or in your code (using date_timezone_default_set()). PHP would default to UTC and throw the warning. This warning
    has been removed in PHP7. Good riddance.

  • Null Coalesce Operator

    Also called the isset ternary operator, gives you a more convenient way of ... doing this:

    // Before PHP7
    $someVar = isset($someArray['some_key']) ? $someArray['some_key'] : 'default value';
    // In PHP7
    $someVar = $someArray['some_key'] ?? 'default value';

There are more cool and useful features I have not mentioned here. You can read about them here: