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Thread: Oil on paper, preparation question

  1. #1
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    Oil on paper, preparation question

    For preparing paper to use for oil painting I have heard two things.
    One is just to gesso it. the other is that you should coat the paper with acrylic gel media before gessoing.

    Anyone know the "truth" here?

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  3. #2
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    i hate to ninja gnome your thread craig, but i to have a question about oils. i want to start painting in my room and i was wondering how much ventalation i need. i have a fan down stairs blowing out and a sky light open. will this work, or should i take my stuff to the garage wiht the door opened.
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    I paint in a living room with a ceiling fan set to "lazy" and I'm not dead yet
    seriously though, unless you're sensitive (some people CAN NOT be near solvent fumes, you will know if you have this problem) you should be fine.

    As far as preping paper: I don't think there is a "truth", but I've always just gone straight to gesso myself. Never had a problem. What sort of paper are you using?
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    With gesso, you may need to stretch your paper. Staple it to a board, coat with gesso, then cut it loose. You may have to do the same with acrylic gel or matte medium if you can’t stand wrinkles. Also, wetting the paper beforehand may be necessary.

    Gesso is cheaper than acrylic mediums, and will probably last longer. Heck, you can paint straight on paper, too. It’ll just decompose sooner. There is no “right”; there is only better and worse in terms of how long a piece of art will last. I knew people in college who would paint on a pizza box.

    I have been using illustration board coated in gesso – no stretching is necessary, but the board does curve a bit. Also, I have tried doing a drawing on illustration board, sealing it with medium, and then painting. (I got this idea from illustrator James Gurney, who draws on illustration board and seals the drawing with a spray sealer before finishing with oils.) And I’ve drawn on gessoed board, then sealed it with medium, etc.

    I try to keep a lid on my paint thinner when I’m not using it, but I, too, work in my living room. I keep the fume-emitting supplies in the bathroom when not in use, and open windows, but so far, neither of those things seems to be entirely necessary. Even my super-smell-sensitive husband isn’t bothered. More importantly, I think, I work with latex gloves on, and keep a dedicated set of painting clothes, so as to keep the messy and toxic heavy metals from being spread on my skin and around the house.

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    I am new here (this is my first post) but I will jump in on this one.
    I have used acrylic matte medium to adhere my paper to masonite and then proceed to seal the paper on top with the same medium. It gives it a super smooth surface. There is a sort of tutorial on this method on Donato Giancola's website. ( I don't have a direct link but it is here: http://www.donatoart.com/technique/tech.html) Click on the first painting with the mountain scene and you can see the process.
    As far as gesso, I have not used gesso on paper (without mounting it on some kind of backing board). I am sure it would be fine, but it may try to curl up on you.
    Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig D
    For preparing paper to use for oil painting I have heard two things.
    One is just to gesso it. the other is that you should coat the paper with acrylic gel media before gessoing.

    Anyone know the "truth" here?
    The way I prepare paper for oils is to buy very cheap watercolor paper that has a texture I like. I then dilute acrylic gesso 1/2 & 1/2 with water and coat one side, let it dry, then coat the back side. The paper will curl after you coat the 1st side because the acrylic medium shrinks as it dries. Once you coat the reverse side the paper will flatten out. Even at a 1/2 & 1/2 mix, the gesso will seal the surface but will still preserve the texture of the paper.

    One way you can make the painting surface more interesting is to tint the gesso with the liquid acrylic colors that come in squeeze bottles. Buy a couple of different colors that when mixed will create an interesting but neutral grey.
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    I have tried doing a drawing on illustration board, sealing it with medium, and then painting. (I got this idea from illustrator James Gurney, who draws on illustration board and seals the drawing with a spray sealer before finishing with oils.) And I’ve drawn on gessoed board, then sealed it with medium, etc.
    this is generally how I start a painting, except I gesso first, then transfer down my drawing (trace and rub generally) and seal it with a thin acrylic layer applied as a transparent monochrome underpainting (meaning loosly indicated values). Whatever my surface, I like 2-3 coats of watered down gesso, but you should experiment and see what feels good to you. Cold press heavy watercolor paper can be a very nice texture for oil painting.
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    Thanks everyone

    Dave, I used CP 140 pd Arches. Taped it down and gessoed it up.
    Worked fine but someone just told me to do the acrylic gel before gessoing.
    I think they were just confused or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig D
    ...Anyone know the "truth" here?...
    http://www.goldenpaints.com/technica...ix_priming.php

    "Acrylic polymer medium...prevents the oil from penetrating...etc."

    If you're going to be covering it up with a primer anyway, what's the advantage of using paper? Less expensive than canvas or wood? The best sort of paper to use would be about as costly as the minimum quality canvas or hardboard. I've no problem recommending paper, but I'd say to glue it to a firmer support, in which case you're using a wood panel anyway.

    Painting directly on an unprepared surface is not adviseable, but I don't feel it needs to only be acrylic primer or polymer. It may be better for the paper, but not best for the oil. Aside from the concerns over proper adhesion, I just don't like the feel of an acrylic ground under oils. If you like the absorbancy of the paper, acrylics will take that away. I've used hide glue, gelatin, shellac or other more absorbant materials to size paper for oils and they all work well.
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    By the way, take a look at a few of these paintings here by John Constable.
    http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhib...riverstour.htm

    You'll notice a few of them are oil on paper, either mounted to canvas or panel. I've not seen these particular paintings in person, but have seen others, and those were NOT primed in any way; just paint on paper. No doubt they were well sized, and the paper was high quality rag I would imagine, but they looked as good as new, bright white paper, even though well over 100 years old.
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    Wasp

    About hide glue: yeah I had some extra one day when I was making traditional gesso panels and egg-oil emulsion supports. I applied it on one side of some cardboard backs from paper pads that I kept for this kind of thing, or to provide stiffness to things mailed in envelopes. There was some curling but it was not too bad. I painted with oil on a couple of them about 2 weeks ago and the paint went on with no dragging. The surface is slightly more matte than I'm used to seeing on acrylic primer or linseed oil prepared surfaces but the paint doesn't appear underbound. I can see some blotches of oil on the other side so I think applying size to both sides, and edges, can help both with the curling and prevent the possibility of sinking. The color of the cardboard is a neutral one which is helpful if you like to work from middle tones outward in both directions.

    Re fumes: I paint in oils indoors and I am one of the people who can't have solvents. It affects style, in that if I want to glaze I have to go to acrylics but I'm an impasto painter anyway so I don't care. I love the smell of the linseed oil. I wipe out the brushes and then clean them in a couple passes of linseed oil (like jar 1, and jar 2) to get rid of most of the pigment and then remove excess linseed oil with a rag or something. Then I go to work on the bristles with that GOOP type hand cleaner and when they are beginning to approach the "wet side" I can move on to liquid soap out of the hand soap dispenser. The brushes come out cleaner than I used to get them with the solvents because I can take my time and work everything out of the bristles even down there in the ferrule. The hide glue size smells kind of like wet dog when you are cooking it, a fume of another kind and your family may object.

    Re: heavy metals. Seedling is right. We're talking cumulative damage to internal and reproductive organs here. I can't stand the talcum powder any better than the solvent, so I generally use vinyl gloves but they are not as form fitting as latex so you have to get used to them. Don't eat, drink, or smoke when you are painting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arttorney
    ...The surface is slightly more matte...I can see some blotches of oil on the other side...
    RSG is rather absorbant, and can draw in the initial oil layer to give a dull look. Did you size the cardboard before applying the gesso? That may help resist the oil going through.

    Water-based glues are problematic for paper and wood, so I tend to prefer shellac. Polyurethane has been recommended as a better option, but I haven't tried that out.
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    You can also use a Shellac and Denatured alcohol mixture that's pretty cheap, the ratio is one to one. It really depends on what kind of surface you like to paint on.
    "absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and keep what is essentially your own." - Bruce Lee

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