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painting the figure


module 2: Properties of oil paint.

The "Fat-Over-Lean" Principle

Why is this important?

The “fat over lean” principle must be adhered to in order to have the most stable paint film in order to stand the test of time!


Oil paint dries by oxygen absorption. Oilier paint needs more oxygen to dry & vice versa. So the top layers should take longer to dry than the bottom layer.


“Fat” - More oil in the paint. “Lean” - Less oil in the paint.

Underlying layers should contain less oil than the layers atop.

What happens if you ignore “Fat-Over-Lean?”

Imagine the painting being a pie.

Layers can dry at a more even rate, staying more stable.

What happens to the paint as it dries?

The top layer dries quicker than the layers underneath. That layer is much less flexible, sitting on top of a surface that can shift over time. This will lead to the surface cracking, and eventually the top layers falling off.