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  1. #1
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    Being a cheap ass with primer

    Eh, I didn't want to open a new thread, but I figured it was better than waiting for a dead thread to ressurect

    I have some white house paint (the label says latex satin) that my mom gave to me, and I was wondering if you good folks have any opinion about using it as a primer on paper. My plan was to coat this 98 lb paper a few times and use it for oil studies and sketches. However, in the past people have bought oil sketches of mine - I didn't charge a lot because I was concerned about yellowing, but I want to be mindful of archival work in the event people want to purchase some more of my sketches in the future. I'm on a student budget, so I thought it would be advantageous because it's cheap, doesn't take up space, and I won't care if I mess a painting up. Still, I want it to be somewhat durable in the event someone wants to take it home. I also have some clear gesso to coat it with again, but I really don't like how rough it is. Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    One of the old-timers is welcome to correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know latex paint is 100% fine. It might be a bit slicker/plasticy than a proper gesso, but I don't think there are any permanence issues.

    And hell, for student work? Make it cheap as possible. Nothing wrong with that.

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  5. #3
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    That's good to know! There were a lot of conflicting opinions on google searches, so I figured asking the pros would be best. My teachers kept gallons of house paint in art studios for students to use, but the traditional methods of painting are stressed in a lot of places. Thanks!

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  6. #4
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    Housepaint is not an art supply.


    Tristan Elwell
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  8. #5
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    Gah, that's what I'm afraid of. I really don't want to sacrifice the durability of these sketches, but it is so tempting to just go ahead and use it... By any chance, would you happen to know if possibly mixing acrylic gesso with housepaint would help it out a little? Or a cheaper recipe to make one's own? Painting oils on paper is less common so it seems like there's more limited info out there. Thanks!

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  9. #6
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    If you want cheap but still reliable, you can get a gallon of Utrecht Student Gesso for under $20. That's less than a lot of housepaint costs.


    Tristan Elwell
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  11. #7
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    What Elwell said. Gesso's cheap. If you still don't want to deal with it, tracing paper's a good surface to do studies on too, and it doesn't take up a ton of space. (you do need to get used to the slippery surface)

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  13. #8
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    You can use acrylic paint, too. There are big buckets for less than $20 as well, and as a bonus you can pick a color as a base.

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  15. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Housepaint is not an art supply.
    Tell that to the abstract expressionists...

    But yeah, if you get the Utrecht student-grade gesso, that's pretty cheap (the fancy grades might be more pricey than you'd like, so look for the cheapest student grade.) Or any student-grade white acrylic, you can usually get that in large quantities for cheap, too... Pro tip: wait for sales on the Utrecht or Dick Blick websites, and stock up. Some of the online sale prices are amazing.

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  17. #10
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    I use Behr Lead Oil Primer for my class studies. It's cheap as hell and I haven't had any problems with it, yet.

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  19. #11
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    What a great price on the student gesso, Elwell! I never wanted to buy anything huge online because of shipping prices, but luckily for me, I am moving soon to a city that has a brick-and-morter Utrecht.

    Is acrylic gesso usually cheaper than gesso? It was my understanding that what they call "gesso" is really low-grade acrylic paint these days. HOWEVER, I bought a liter of Liquitex gesso and found the consistency so thick that it was difficult to use. I ended up trying to dilute it, but it didn't mix as easily as I wanted.

    Sidharth, I like to use the Canson mixed-media paper. It's incredibly cheap and the thickness of the paper makes it easily to go crazy on it. But if I get tracing paper in the future, I'll try it out is it just the regular thin kind, or am I thinking of something else?

    Jacob - do you get that at Lowe's? How much does it run you?

    Thanks for all the advice everyone!

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  20. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bodied View Post
    Is acrylic gesso usually cheaper than gesso? It was my understanding that what they call "gesso" is really low-grade acrylic paint these days. HOWEVER, I bought a liter of Liquitex gesso and found the consistency so thick that it was difficult to use. I ended up trying to dilute it, but it didn't mix as easily as I wanted.
    Almost all "gesso" you can buy is acrylic gesso, more correctly acrylic ground or acrylic priming. True gesso is made from chalk or whiting and animal glue, and is too brittle to use on canvas. It's sold in powdered form, and has to be mixed with water and heated so that the glue dissolves, and applied warm. When acrylics were introduced in the '60s, some manufacturers decided to call their acrylic priming "gesso," and the name stuck.
    I'm surprised about your experience with the Liquitex gesso, it's actually one of the more fluid brands out there. Thinning any sort of acrylic priming down shouldn't be a problem, just add water and mix thoroughly. You don't want to thin it too much, though, or the binder can get overdiluted and you can get powdering or cracking.


    Tristan Elwell
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  22. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    I use Behr Lead Oil Primer for my class studies. It's cheap as hell and I haven't had any problems with it, yet.
    Jake, I don't know exactly what you're using (is it this?), but I can guarantee you that, if it's sold as a commercial housepaint, it's not lead based (don't be fooled by the ridiculous California lead warning that's required on anything with titanium pigments). Lead housepaint has been illegal in the US since the '70s.


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
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