Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Painting - Oil Painting - Supports and Grounds

Rigid Supports:
Wood Panels - Cardboard - Standard Masonite Presdwood - Plywood - Metals - Grounds for Rigid Supports

Flexible Supports:
Paper - Textiles - Commercial Products - Grounds for Flexible Supports

Grounds - Commercial

Prepared Gesso Panels
Most gessoed panels sold today in art supply stores are made by spraying gesso on Presdwood. The gesso usually has either a casein or an acrylic resin binder. These panels may have a rather different textural appearance from hand-made ones. The surfaces are often more regular, much more absorbent, and require more sizing to make them receive oil colors well. [See notes on imprimatura.] [p. 124]

Premixed gesso may be bought as a dry powder or a liquid mixture. The dry material is a combination of rabbitskin glue, whiting, and zinc [or titanium] white pigment. It requires the addition of water and a period of soaking and heating to effect the solution of the glue. Its use eliminates the necessity of weighing the glue and measuring the filler. [Of course, the artist must still make the glue-size materials for the preliminary sizing of the panel.] When carefully made of high quality materials, such premixed gesso gives excellent results. Several such products have been on the market for many years and have proved reliable.

Commercial gesso preparations, sold in liquid form, cannot employ rabbitskin glue since this would solidify and spoil in storage. Instead they use as binders one of the more recently discovered synthetic resins. These materials behave slightly differently from the glue gesso in regard to brushing qualities, absorbency, or surface texture, but if well prepared, can give good results on a rigid support. [See section on Acrylic Priming]

The use of commercial house paints, such as the latex or casein water-thinned paints, as a substitute for artistÍs gesso is not recommended. These products are not made with artistsÍ standards in mind, and although they are excellent materials for the decorator or house painter, they are usually not sufficiently permanent for artistsÍ use. [p. 123]

Acrylic Primings
The acrylic emulsion primings [such as Liquitex Gesso or New Temp Gesso] mentioned [in the section on flexible supports] are used on rigid supports as well. They remain liquid without being heated and are applied directly to the paper, cardboard, wood, or Masonite Presdwood panel. No preliminary sizing is recommended. Generally three coats of such primings give acceptable results, and the [p. 123] surface is less absorbent than that of the traditional glue gesso. Since it is ready to use as it comes from the container and requires no measuring or preparation, except for optional thinning with water, many painters prefer it to the tractional glue gesso because of its convenience. On the other hand, artists who are accustomed to the absorbency and surface qualities of the glue gesso sometimes find the acrylic priming noticeably different, especially in such techniques as egg tempera or encaustic. [pp. 123-124]

[Kay, Reed. The Painter's Guide to Studio Methods and Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983.]



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