Art: Oil on paper, preparation question

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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?

    Thanks

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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.

    Cheers!

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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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.

    Cindy

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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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    No gesso. Real gesso is inappropriate for cardboard anyway because of cracking potential. That acrylic stuff, well if it's anything other than sketching I put it on panel or canvas, depending on how big of a work I have in mind.

    I just had some extra glue size and nothing else to do with it so I put it on some cardboard because I have seen that Toulouse-Lautrec would sketch in oils on cardboard and i figured it was better than dumping my size down the drain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arttorney
    No gesso. Real gesso is inappropriate for cardboard anyway because of cracking potential. That acrylic stuff, well if it's anything other than sketching I put it on panel or canvas, depending on how big of a work I have in mind.

    I just had some extra glue size and nothing else to do with it so I put it on some cardboard because I have seen that Toulouse-Lautrec would sketch in oils on cardboard and i figured it was better than dumping my size down the drain.
    Most people here probably won't know what "real" gesso is, or size for that matter. I could be wrong but that's my guess, so you might want to explain what your talking about.

    "absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and keep what is essentially your own." - Bruce Lee

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    The Italian term "gesso" (chalk) refers to any mixture that includes gypsum (calcium sulphate) or chalk (calcium carbonate) and a glue binder. It's used as a ground for painting, also mold-making and casting sculpture. Traditionally, the glue used comes from animals (rabbit hide, deer, horse-hooves, etc.) Casein can also be used. It may also include pigment. The adjective "grosso" (thick) made with gypsum, or "sottile" (thin) made with chalk, is often used with the term. To avoid confusion, it's best when speaking of grounds that use acrylic polymer or oil as "primers" since they're mixed up differently (no glue.)

    Gesso can be brittle when dried so it's best to use on firm surfaces like wood, not stretched canvas or non-mounted paper. It's also more aborbant than primer grounds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesso
    http://www.sanders-studios.com/instr...oryofoils.html

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    Yeah. That's what I meant by real gesso. If it is applied carefully in multiple layers with sanding between, and care not to have bubbles in it, it will make a pure white surface that can be nearly mirror smooth and yet is absorbent so it brings out the luminescence in water media such as tempera or watercolor. My book lists it as one part guilder's whiting and one part glue size. Best I can figure is that Guilder's whiting is a premix of the chalk substance and a pigment like titanium white. In a pinch I have used plaster of paris from the general hardware store and didn't notice any difference in adherence or drying time, although it is certainly not as smooth and fine as if you use a finely powdered crushed marble and the expensive rabbitskin glue. It all depends on how perfect a starting surface you are aiming for (and how much money you have to throw around). Making gesso panels is like an art in itself. The Titanium white pigment is a good idea to make sure the gesso is brilliant white. You'll probably want to use a respirator and not breathe this stuff in.

    By "size" I meant the glue dbclemens mentioned. It is not only useful in preparing Gesso, but it can also be placed over a raw surface before applying a primer because it helps to reduce the absorbency by clogging up the little holes. This is why mention was made about putting size under the Gesso. My book says that Acrylic primer won't adhere properly to traditional size and so I have never attempted that. The size is also very useful for two other things off the top of my head. It is a component of a primer for oil paints called egg-oil emulsion that I have found an acceptable alternative to white lead primer or acrylic primer. Most importantly the animal derived glue is the better kind of glue to use if you are preparing canvas boards (marouflaging) because a restorer will be better able to get the canvas back off the board if it becomes necessary down the line. My understanding is that the glue like substance sold as size which is acrylic based will not allow the canvas to come free without damaging the painting. Size comes as dry granules down at the art store and the preparation instructions are on the package probably. (Generally for canvas 2 oz. to two pints water or 1 part by volume to 13 parts water.) heat carefully using a double boiler.

    If anybody needs to know about marouflaging, which is kind of cool, I'll deal with that in a later post.

    And sorry! I didn't mean to open a can of worms without describing them adequately. Preparing your own painting supports can become nearly as interesting as the artwork itself if you have a little of the handyperson in you. I love this thread!

    Last edited by arttorney; October 2nd, 2006 at 11:32 PM.
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    Thanks, arttorney. Some points I'd like to add:

    Quote Originally Posted by arttorney
    ...My book says that Acrylic primer won't adhere properly to traditional size and so I have never attempted that...
    The polymer in the acrylic primer will serve as a size, so there's no need to use anything underneath it. It's porous so it's recommended that you use several coats (3-4) of acrylic primer so oil won't seep through.

    Quote Originally Posted by arttorney
    ...My understanding is that the glue like substance sold as size which is acrylic based will not allow the canvas to come free without damaging the painting...
    No, the polymer is not reversible in primers or acrylic mediums. There are PVA glues that can be removed, but there's a difference of opinion on how useful an alternative to animal glues they are in the long run.

    Quote Originally Posted by arttorney
    ...marouflaging..
    There's one you don't hear very often. Good word for Scrabble.

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    Copal Varnish On Archival Rag Works Superbly . . .

    I will gesso vero on the rag and then isolate with glue and/or copal varnish
    diluted with turpentine or I'll use the varnish/solvent direct without the
    gesso vero . . . I do either of these methods on 100% archival rag . . .

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    Eurgh, use an oil/alkyd primer if you plan on using oils. (can be used over the top of gesso [either type]). Nothing worse than the absorbency of gesso when using oils.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k4pka
    ...Nothing worse than the absorbency of gesso when using oils.
    Oh, I'd disagree with you on that. There's plenty worse, slick acrylic primers for one. Making traditional gesso is a bit more work than just opening up a can of oil primer, but the surface is superb to paint on. You can reduce the absorbancy by isolating it with a thin layer of shellac. Also, oil primers take at least 1-6 months to properly cure; a gesso surface is ready to go in a couple weeks. Some primers dry faster, but still are not as nice a suface, and I'm not a fan of alkyds, myself. Too many reports of problems down the line.

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    Forgive me for the silly question.
    I was wondering: what would happen if I work with oils directly on cotton paper?
    I mean, just as I would if I was using watercolors. Will the painting fall apart in a couple of years?

    The greatest pictorial value lies in all the things the camera cannot do.

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    Azza
    I believe oil will slowly "rot" any natural fiber it comes into contact with

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    it's the thing I knew too, but I was thinking if anyone as as ever tried it.

    the fact is: the feeling of good old cotton paper under the brush is so comfortable to me, that it's a shame I can't paint directly on it

    The greatest pictorial value lies in all the things the camera cannot do.

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    hey craig buddy!

    you might ought to check out Dan santos's tutorial on the methods part of his site... the prep phase as he states it is way inert apparently

    guggen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azza
    Forgive me for the silly question.
    Your question was not silly, nor do you ever need to apologise for asking a question. :-)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    It won't even take a few years for problems to develop. Unless you clog up the pores of the paper with something, all the oil will get sucked down into the paper and then when your painting has dried there will be nasty dull looking patches all over the place (called sinking) and lots of cracking. The paint will be prone to flaking off because the oil which was supposed to help bind the pigment to the surface all sucked down inside the support. The glue helps somewhat but if used alone it is not perfect. That is why the oil sketches I discussed above look more matte than usual. Some kind of primer is really a good idea.

    For this post, I took a look at those two cardboards I oil sketched weeks ago and the oil is definitely touch dry all over, even in the impasto areas. I looked closely in the light and I see no cracks. I don't see any really nasty looking sinking, but the places with impasto are generally more glossy than the very thinly painted areas.

    I'd say the glue size is good enough for sketching on cardboard, but do both sides and edges. Maybe clamp down all around the sides while each side dries to try to keep down the curling.

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    Sorry for bringing up a couple of weeks old thread, but I needed to ask if I got it correcty.

    So I want to draw a BW sketch with a pencil on paper, then attach the paper to masonite or something similar and then paint on it with oils.

    Of course I need to prime it first and this is where my question comes in: If I want to prime the paper which has the sketch so that the sketch will remain visible (in other words the primer used is transparent) what would be a good primer for this? Gesso wont obviously work as it will cover the drawing, but how about acrylic medium? If it will do then: How many coats should I apply, as with gesso or..? Should I use glossy or matte medium? etc. Any help is welcome.

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    Hmm. . . if I understand you correctly, you're going for a look like James Gurney's Dinotopia? If so, try drawing on illustration board and sealing it with acrylic matte or gel medium, or use spray-fixative.

    You could probably glue a drawing to masonite with matte or gel medium, and then seal it with the same medium, but I've never tried that. Sounds like something you'd want to test first.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    I made a primer called egg-oil emulsion WITHOUT the titanium white once and it was clear for all practical purposes. I would prime a layer going across one direction and then prime a second layer going up and down (sanding is recommended between layers but I would go easy on paper that has a drawing on it). When I primed some panels this way they were basically the same color as they were before, but the oil paint went on just fine (after the primer dried (two days for this recipe)). The book recipe calls for titanium white pigment (which in this case you would definitely leave out), 1 egg, linseed oil, glue size (discussed above in the thread), and water. Break the egg into a jar. Using the eggshells as a measure, add the same volume of refined linseed oil and twice the volume of cold water. Screw the lid on the jar and shake vigorously until an emulsion is formed. Thin the mixture to a milky consistency using lukewarm glue size that you made 1 part size by volume to 12 parts water. The primer's ready. You're supposed to brush it thinly onto a sized support. In this case, since size is a glue, I would put a layer of size onto the panel and use it to glue the paper to the panel. After you smooth out the air bubbles, brush size across the top of the paper too. Then use the excess size to prepare the egg-oil emulsion.

    Using size in this way to glue the paper on might endanger the drawing if it is something delicate like a charcoal drawing, but those acrylic media present the same kind of smearing danger. Best if you can make your underdrawing with something indelible to water.

    The acrylic way is probably less work, but I thought I would give you another option in case you try it that way, and can't get the result you want.

    Last edited by arttorney; November 3rd, 2006 at 08:32 PM.
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