Plan to make an acrylic painting ON WATERCOLOR PAPER, and finish it with oil.

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  1. #1
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    Plan to make an acrylic painting ON WATERCOLOR PAPER, and finish it with oil.

    Ok, I'm aware of the technique of painting acrylic on illustration board to take advantage of its quickness, using spray fixative on it (I think), and then oil painting over it to take advantage of the medium's refined blending.

    I have a slightly different plan. I want to make a watercolor-like acrlyic painting on 300lb watercolor paper, then somehow fix it, and then oil paint over it. But I want to be aware of any problems that might arise out of this combination.

    It seems that paper is always gesso'd if it's going to accept oil. Obviously, I don't want to cover up my acrylic underpainting.
    Perhaps clear gesso would work? Would I have to somehow dry-mount the paper?

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    DO NOT--repeat--DO NOT use spray fix between the layers. NEVER. PERIOD. Anyone who tells you to do this is a moron--I don't care who or how important/professional they think they are.

    Acrylic is fine as a base for oils as long as you don't have a heavy acrylic impasto in a flexible base. If so, the oils will tend to crack a bit because they won't "bend" when the heavy acrylic does.

    One problem that may pop up is that acrylic is porous, which is why it makes a great surface for oils, BUT...the same porosity may allow the oil to bleed through and damage the paper. That's why most people gesso the paper. Anything you add between the acrylic paint and the oils is dangerous or unnecessary. It's the oil getting to the paper that's the problem.

    If you're working mostly with washes of both, and there's a decent amount of medium in the acrylic layer, there shouldn't be any major problem.

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    Acrylic PAINT isn't porous unless you dilute it too much, but acrylic "gesso" is because there are solids added to give tooth for paint adhesion. Gesso on paper as an oil preparation isn't really necessary IF the paper is properly sized first. The acrylic medium in the primer can function as a size if you use several coats, or you could just use a couple coats of acrylic medium.

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    my recommendation if you plan to keep the acrylics thin would be to start with a thin gesso base (thin enough that there should be no noticeable brush strokes), then do your acrylics, then apply your oils. This is my regular process (my underpaintings are acrylic) and I quite like it.

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    DB', I checked my old samples and discovered my notes say you're right. Acrylics are porous only when they're thinned with water. Acrylics ARE "soft" at room temperature, though, so dirt and crap that collects on them or touches them over a period of time at room temperature can result in the acrylic sometimes "surrounding" the intruding particles, or absorbing it, especially at warmish temperatures.

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    She said "watercolor-like with acrylics". I assume she means she want to dilute the acrylic paint to a watery mix like watercolors. From what Ilaekae is saying, it doesn't look like it would work unless you are putting acrylic on a little thick (undiluted) to seal the paper. Right?

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    Actually, acrylics can take a fair amount of "thinning, but if it's MOSTLY beyond maybe 50% as it sounds here, I'd dilute the color first with a fair amount of matte medium, then water from there. Liquitex makes a gazing compound medium, but i don't know if it's glossy or matte.

    The real danger with thinning too much is that the surface is easily abraded. If most of the original surface is going to be covered with something else, that wouldn't necessarily be a big deal, but it DOES bring us back to the "porous" acrylic problem...

    I have old life studies (40+ years) on a white pad paper that's moderately porous, and the areas where I really whacked the paint with water are holding up well under rubbing, so porosity of the base has some effect.

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    Zirngibism, you'll be fine. Start as you planned on the unprimed paper, develop the painting as far as you want with the acrylic washes, then give it a bunch of coats of acrylic matte medium (slightly thinned down so you don't get brush strokes, at least three or four coats to be safe). Then go in with the oils. "Clear gesso" is just acrylic medium with marble dust or another inert pigment added for tooth, and will cloud things up much more than the matte medium.


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