So far I've been using a very basic way of priming stuff for oil painting depending on the support I use:
Canvas: I buy a premade canvas with minimal acrylic priming. I add 2-3 layers of acrylic gesso priming on top of it, sometimes mixed with an acrylic color to get a ground tone. Then I paint with oils directly over this priming.
Paper: I put the same priming as above on thick paper (like watercolor paper), but since I usually have a detailed drawing to work with I use the technique described by Gurney here:
So basically I put a layer of acrylic matte medium on top of the gesso priming, and then paint with oils on top of the matte medium.
I don't mix any thinner with the paint, just a bit of walnut oil to get a gloss finish. This works well so far but I'm very confused on the topic of priming and oil absorption and I'd like to understand it better before trying more complex stuff:
- Some painters say that acrylic gesso is perfectly fine for priming, while others insist that any canvas should be primed with a layer of oil paint because the gesso is too much absorbing and painting directly over it makes the paintings prone to cracking and other flaws.
I assume this means the canvas should be treated first with a basic priming like gesso (or rabbit glue or similar stuff) and then with a first layer of thinned oil paint on top of gesso, letting it dry, then starting the actual painting on top of it.
I don't get how this is supposed to fix the issue of absorption though. Wouldn't gesso absorb oil from this first layer? Wouldn't oil from the top layers trickle all the way down to the gesso layer anyway? Or maybe this first "lean" layer forms a barrier and prevents oil from the topmost layers from reaching down to the gesso?
- Some painters also told me that oil paint can be used directly for priming raw linen, but this sounds very suspicious. I thought that oil soaking the raw tissue is right what priming is supposed to prevent, right?
- I know premade canvases are considered bad, but why exactly? Is it just because they come with a poor quality priming? Can they be improved by adding a proper priming on top of it?
Thank you for any answers!