Fat over lean

Fat over lean

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Fat over lean refers to the principle in oil painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 of applying paint
Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which after application to a substrate in a thin layer is converted to an opaque solid film. One may also consider the digital mimicry thereof...

 with a higher oil to pigment ratio
In mathematics, a ratio is a relationship between two numbers of the same kind , usually expressed as "a to b" or a:b, sometimes expressed arithmetically as a dimensionless quotient of the two which explicitly indicates how many times the first number contains the second In mathematics, a ratio is...

 ('fat') over paint with a lower oil to pigment ratio ('lean') to ensure a stable paint film, since it is believed that the paint with the higher oil content remains more flexible.

Oil paint
Oil paint
Oil paint is a type of slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by the addition of a solvent such as turpentine or white spirit, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the...

 dries at different rates due to the differing siccative properties of the constituent pigment. However, everything else being equal, the higher the oil to pigment ratio, the longer the oil binder will take to oxidize, and the more flexible the paint film will be. Conversely, the lower the oil content, the faster the paint dries, and the more brittle
A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant deformation . Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength. Breaking is often accompanied by a snapping sound. Brittle materials include most ceramics and glasses ...

 it will be. Ignoring this practice, even in some alla prima
Alla prima
-Definition:alla prima is a painting technique done mostly in oils, in which the work is completed before the first layer of painting has dried up or is still wet, such as the 'impressionist' technique or 'Glaze '...

painting, may result in a cracked and less durable paint film.

It has been claimed by some paint manufacturers that the 'fat-over-lean' principle can be circumvented by using synthetic, alkyd-based painting media such as Galkyd and Liquin. These media do provide consistent drying times, increase the paint film flexibility, and promote adhesion between paint layers. However, since classical painting media, turpentine, natural resins, and certain plant oils (linseed
Linseed oil
Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil, is a clear to yellowish oil obtained from the dried ripe seeds of the flax plant . The oil is obtained by cold pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction...

, walnut
Walnut oil
Walnut oil is oil extracted from English walnuts . It is about 50% linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid. Walnut oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which are also essential to human nutrition....

 and poppy
Poppyseed oil
Poppyseed oil is an edible oil from poppy seeds . The oil has culinary and pharmaceutical uses, as well as long established uses in the making of paints, varnishes, and soaps.Poppy seeds yield 45–50% oil...

), applied properly, have lasted for centuries, some artists choose to avoid synthetic media since their long-term stability is unknown.

External links

The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques is a reference book by Ralph Mayer. Intended by the author for use by professional artists, it deals mostly with the chemical and physical properties of traditional painterly materials such as oil, tempera, and solvents...

, by Ralph Mayer