De Mayerne Medium in America

greguric breg De Mayerne Medium in America

Gregurić Breg (unfinished). 100 x 80 cm, oil on linen. Painted with the new medium from Blue Ridge Oil Colors.

Blue Ridge Oil Colors is going to start pre-making the medium I use and selling it in the US. (For people in Europe who don’t want to make their own, I would recommend getting it from Zecchi). If you want to make your own I also have a youtube video showing the process.

I was trying it out recently on this large plein air figurative piece, and in my sketches from Copenhagen. The Blue Ridge version dries faster than what I’m used to using. I know that’s a plus for a lot of artists and it certainly is for me when I travel. During longer projects though, like the one posted above, I sometimes like to scrape down a fresh painting at the start of the next session, and this medium dries too quickly for that -just a heads up.

The recipe is a variation of the medium developed by Charles Cecil and is originally based, in part, on the writings of Theodore de Mayerne. De Mayerne was a Swiss doctor who was friends with Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. He wrote one of the rare documents discussing painting materials of the 17th-century, and he appears to have consulted with both Rubens and Van Dyck regularly on their opinions. His writings discuss straw-colored Strasbourg turpentine and thickening oil with lead in the sun, as well as many other art material related topics. You can buy an English translation online De Mayerne Medium in America.

While I much prefer the smell of Strasbourg turpentine to Canada balsam, the Strasbourg turpentine sometimes beads a lot when beginning again on a dry painting. (Looking closely at Isaac Levitan’s paintings you can see the same beading, which makes me wonder what he was using).

At any rate, it’s a great medium for laying-in (add some turpentine), as well as glazing at the end of a project. I’ve been using it for over twenty years now and my early pieces are all in fine condition.

5 comments

  1. Interesting. I use and make Maroger medium. I studied with a student of Maroger. I have been makingnthe medium for about 20 years. Have you tried Maroger?

  2. I’ve tried it Andre. I didn’t like cooking the oil though and I didn’t trust the look of the stuff I made myself as it was too dark.

  3. Hi Marc,

    Apropos the beading, try scrubbing the dry paint lightly with a scotch bright pad (the ones used in the kitchen). It won’t damage the paint but it’ll make microsopic scratches enough to adhere the fresh paint to. It may dull the surface somewhat – just oil it in, and it’ll be fine.

    PS: The strasbourg sold by Kremer isn’t the real deal, which DeMayerne sais is golden yellow in color. You could use pure larch, it’s pale yellow, very sticky, sets well but dries very slowly (remains tacky for several days).

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