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Priming - Oil Priming, Acrylic Gesso, Plaster of Paris, Traditional Gesso, Rust-Oleum etc.

edited February 15 in Studio & Supplies
For those who would want to prepare their own canvases or boards. I just have one question - why lead white in particular? Due to quick drying? Will a lead white replacement paint do the work? What about hardware store white oil paint?


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Comments

  • Kaustav

    I don't use lead based paints, but this link identifies these qualities and benefits:
    http://www.naturalpigments.com/art-supply-education/lead-oil-grounds-painting/

    • Semi-absorbent ground ideal for oil painting. 
    • It dries within one to two days, depending upon local conditions, such as humidity, light and temperature. 
    • You can usually begin painting within a few days if allowed to dry in warm, well-lit and dry environment.
    • Usually contains ground calcite, lead white and titanium white to make a paint film that remains flexible and tough with some absorbency. 
    • The blend of linseed oil provides penetration into the support to ensure good adhesion yet maintain sufficient holdout to form a good foundation for paint layers. 
    • It provides good leveling properties, so brush and knife marks are minimized. 
    • It can be applied with a brush or knife right out of the can without thinning.
    • Has a high concentration of pigments so only two coats are usually necessary, 
    • More coats create smoother surfaces.
    • Apply directly onto panels without sizing or on canvas sized with PVA or rabbit skin glue.
    • Lead Oil Ground is an excellent foundation for oil and alkyd paint.
    • Lead Oil Ground is ready to apply to properly sized canvases or panels without further preparation. 


    Denis


    Kaustav
  • edited February 9
    Thanks @dencal ; only question remains is that would a lead white replacement paint (Flake White Hue) do the work? Lead white with linseed is just a coating. It seems cheap lead white is not sold in India any longer and price of W&N Flake white no 1 is more than double the Flake White Replacement.
  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 9
    Kaustav

    Flake White Hue is a combo of Titanium White Pigment and Zinc White Pigment, so you won't achieve the fast drying, tough durable film, or creamy value of lead white. The W&N MSDS identifies the LWHue as containing Zinc Oxide and Magnesium Stearate.

    Lead white should not be sold anywhere in the developed world. It is an insidious, horrible brain and environmental toxin.

    Denis

    Kaustav
  • Oil primers I've seen don't use lead white, they are supposed to be less absorbent so paint will move more easily on the surface I believe.
  • edited February 9
    Richard_P said:
    Oil primers I've seen don't use lead white, they are supposed to be less absorbent so paint will move more easily on the surface I believe.
    The whole idea behind preparing my own canvas or board is to reduce my spending on canvas and get a good quality. Getting an oil primed Masterpiece canvas through amazon is like spending roughly Rs17000 (US$250) on a very small canvas. Acrylic primed cotton ones are very cheap but quality is extremely bad, they suck oil like a blotting paper and I don't like acrylic priming.

    Oil primed canvases are time tested. But problem lies with acquiring adequate materials. Rabbit skin glue is very rare and it is not perfect as well. We can use Ph neutral PVA glue on cotton (linen rolls are amazingly expensive, nearly US$800 or more). Lead white is not available. Only other option is to use Plaster of Paris as ground (recommended in a book as well). But don't know about durability! In a way you guys are very lucky! :)
  • Kaustav

    Why don't you make it easy on yourself with Dibond - no priming just gesso. Or acrylic primed MDF panel. Or a tough PVC laminated product.

    Any of these options will be as smooth as the proverbial babies whatnot, cheap as chips and available on any Main Street. And probably last two or three lifetimes in the right conditions.

    Denis

    Kaustav
  • edited February 9
    @dencal ; thicker boards are certainly easy options including DIBOND. I am thinking of using MDFs or HDFs.

    I am only concerned about durability of acrylic gesso even though there is no substantial evidence that they are harmful to oil paintings (sucking oil etc.). I think it is the poorly primed canvas that sucks the oil rather than the primer itself. Therefore, I thought of using the older formula of priming but it is really tough to get the equipment with this modern Health & Safety issue looming over. :s But this is more or less certain that I will move towards boards maybe with pasted canvas on top for special situations .

    I am also not claiming that my paintings are worthy of preservation for the future generation(s) :D but at least they must be durable. There are even suggestions such as Rust-Oleum automotive spray primers etc. Do you have any idea about these?

  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 9
    Kaustav

    What a coincidence you should ask about RustOleum Primer.

    I looked long and hard, just a day or so ago, at this treatment of kitchen cabinets with a view to treating painting supports.



    Denis

    Kaustav
  • @dencal Nice! we are thinking alike!  =)
  • I had a look at the composition of this:

    3. Composition/Information On Ingredients
    HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
    Chemical Name CAS-No. Wt.%
    Range
    GHS Symbols GHS Statements
    Acetone 67-64-1 25-50 GHS02-GHS07 H225-319-332-336
    Propane 74-98-6 10-25 GHS04 H280
    Titanium Dioxide 13463-67-7 2.5-10 Not Available Not Available
    n-Butane 106-97-8 2.5-10 GHS04 H280
    Hydrotreated Light Distillate 64742-47-8 2.5-10 GHS08 H304
    Naphtha, Petroleum, Hydrotreated Light 64742-49-0 2.5-10 GHS08 H304-340-350
    Naphtha, Petroleum, Hydrotreated Light 64742-49-0 2.5-10 GHS08 H304
    Dimethyl Carbonate 616-38-6 1.0-2.5 GHS02 H225
    Xylenes (o-, m-, p- isomers) 1330-20-7 1.0-2.5 GHS02-GHS07 H226-315-319-332
    Barium Sulfate 7727-43-7 1.0-2.5 Not Available Not Available
    Talc (Hydrous Magnesium Silicate) 14807-96-6 1.0-2.5 Not Available Not Available
    Ethylbenzene 100-41-4 0.1-1.0 GHS02-GHS07-
    GHS08 H225-304-332-351-373

    So it looks like Titanium Dioxide with Talc and Barium Sulfate?
    Kaustav
  • Here is a video about panels and the byline has made them all by himself. I think it makes sense. Hardboards + acrylic gesso (at least for now)!


  • Kaustav

    As an artist he should have been well aware that an unprimed hardboard would bow after the application of a water based acrylic gesso. Duh!

    His gesso, depending on the quality, will continue to absorb moisture and so will the hardboard. This will contribute to a shorter lifespan. This is why a good primer is essential for both sides before gesso is applied.

    Denis
  • somesome -
    edited February 10
    FWIW, Reason why they warp is, the wet side swells like a dry sponge soaking up the water causing the surface area to grow, making that side larger. Thus, the bow. He applied the same technique to the othe side, thus, making the areas equal. Then the bow went away. My thought is, perhaps a better way would be to seal both sides with an oil ground like Gamblin produces. https://www.gamblincolors.com/oil-painting/sizes-and-grounds/ .This would prevent moisture from getting in the board in the future. But use it up soon after you buy it, or you will be dissapointed. Also, it is a bit harder to sand I have found out.
  • edited February 10
    I've cut my own hardboard for years.  I've had no problem with bowing when using smaller sizes . . . up to 12X16 or so.  Up to 18x24, a little bowing.  But, when finished, I locked down the painting in a frame, and the bowing was gone.   Yes, you can pretty much cancel bowing by putting gesso on front and back. 

    Lately, I've been skipping the gesso and using clear acrylic matte medium.  It provides the separation of the oil paint from the board, itself, and I rather like the middle tone of the brown board.

    I've pretty much given up using canvas, which absorbs and expels moisture from the atmosphere, the end result of which is that the canvas swells and retracts, not to mention flexes, which, in the long run, can cause the paint to crack.


    KaustavBOB73
  • Yeah @dencal he should have covered the whole panel. But at least he was honest about it and let us know about the mistake.

    @broker12 @dencal @some looking at the present scenario of availability, I think I will start investing in hardboards and acrylic gesso. I haven't found any reliable data related to harmfulness of acrylic gesso on oil paints painted on rigid boards. So far there hasn't been any reports in the last 40-50 years on it. I am a little apprehensive about Rust-Oleum as an art primer and oil primers are beyond my reach.

    For those who are interested in cheaper materials, Plaster of Paris with glue support is still there and recommend in several books as well.
  • @Kaustav Have you looked at the availability and cost of expanded PVC foam board where you are? I use that with Gesso and it works very well.
  • @Richard_P thanks for the idea. Foamboards and gator boards are available with big wholesellers but I have to go for stuff that are available nearby and a lot cheaper. I am sure they will charge more for those than the regular boards. There is a local hardware and wood market nearby where I can buy harboards, masonites etc. easily.
  • Kaustav

    Bought two cans of RustOleum grey primer ( not the automotive variety ). Tracking down some high density mini foam rollers. If it doesn't work for painting panels I'll use it on my roof drainage that needs some work.

    Denis

  • Let us know how it works out Denis :)
    EstherH
  • Kaustav and Richard

    Progress on priming project:


    Kaustav
  • Kaustav and Richard

    Just applied first coat of the panel with the Rustoleum Primer. Surprised how thin and solvent saturated the primer is. But it is certainly penetrating the bass wood panel. Slight sheen on resinous seams in panel, only to be expected. Will likely dry matt as the solvent evaporates.

    I plan to provide 300 times magnification shots of untreated surface and progressive coatings.

    Denis
    KaustavEstherH
  • Kaustav and Richard

    A good respirator/filter , even when outside is essential. Rustoleum is pretty powerful stuff.

    Denis

  • @dencalf   thats what that guy wanted to say about rustoleum
  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 12
    Kaustav and Richard



    LHS. Run of second coat on the side. The edge shows a build of pigment where the solvent evaporated. The arrow points to the edge and the arrow is an indication of scale. Arrow length 1.5 mm.
    Light toning here is raw pine cradle speckled with over spray. I have deliberately kept these images small so they can't be opened. 

    RHS. First coat of Rustoleum Primer on Basswood. Same magnification, arrow applicable here too for scale. Lignin fibers preferentially absorb the pigment, or perhaps these are voids. I guess this is what the primer's job is all about. Basswood is similar to,  but harder than balsa wood. Basswood is made from the Linden tree.

    I plan to do at least three primer coats as its pretty thin stuff. Perhaps only one or two coats on the reverse side since the surface smoothness is not important. Then a light wet and dry fine sand to the face side. Followed by two or three coats of red oxide gesso (curiously labeled as a primer) applied with a brush and rolled smooth with the high density foam.

    Denis
    KaustavEstherH
  • edited February 15
    @dencal please let us know if your experiment is working.

    I am gonna change the topic name so that the post becomes more appropriate and helpful to the others who are willing to find a way to prime their surfaces. This post has become very informative.
    EstherH
  • edited February 15

    Traditional Gesso:

    For those who are into tradition and willing to work hard for their own surfaces (also suitable for egg tempera). Plaster of Paris can also be used in the place that white he used.




  • Kaustav

    Plaster of Paris is hygroscopic and brittle. I would not use it on a painting support.
    Look what happens to frescos if subjected to wet and dry cycles.

    I applied the third coat, yesterday morning, waiting 24 hrs to harden and for the volatiles to vent off.
    Rustoleum ( not the automotive kind) is very solvent heavy and is sucked into thr wood structure almost immediately, it does leave a bonded pigment behind, but I will get a bit closer to that tomorrow.

    I suspect the automotive variety, for use on metal, is pigment heavy and solvent light.
    I have used a whole $11 can on three front coats and one back coat. I must say I have used better performing primers with a can and a brush.

    Watch this space.

    Denis


    EstherH
  • edited February 15
    @dencal let's see how does this turn out! The artists above used a varnish and turps as coating in the end which is like a sealant+binder. If it applies to chalk then I think it will also work with PoP.

  • Kaustav

    Assuming the varnish is a perfect seal, after it yellows it cracks. Then your Plaster of Paris will really POP.

    Denis

  • dencal said:
    Kaustav

    Assuming the varnish is a perfect seal, after it yellows it cracks. Then your Plaster of Paris will really POP.

    Denis

    Could be. All the older tempera works have fine cracks upon them. 
  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 17
    Kaustav and Richard

    Third and final coat of RustOleum (not automotive type) of 24x18 Basswood panel. General picture in the sunshine, taken against the light to show surface texture.



    The grain of the timber panel is still evident, under magnification even the smoothest parts show the valley and ridge fibre structure typical of an open grain timber surface. I would have expected all that to disappear after three coats of primer.

    The micrographs don't look much different from before.

     First coat of RustOleum primer Third coat of RustOleum primer.  Note increased density and accumulation of pigment in timber voids.

    However, it is worth noting that there is a good deal of variation across the surface, patches of rough and smooth persist after careful application of uniform spray lines. 

    I expect some improvement after the next step, which is a light wet and dry sandpaper.

    The role of the primer is to form a seal to oils and moisture migrating from the air or through the gesso layers.
    Timber is a notorious sponge that eventually forms a good home to molds and fungus leading to the structural breakdown of the timber.

    Denis

    KaustavEstherH
  • This is really interesting. Keep us posted :)
  • @dencal I would like to suggest for next time, you may want to consider sealing the wood with "shellac" before priming. My experience with this has shown no wood grain marks after priming and need less primer as a result. Hope this helps.
    KaustavEstherH
  • I have learned a lot from this.  Thanks for the time you have spent and the info.
    dencalKaustav
  • A very interesting read. I am genuinely appreciative, as well, of the high level of detail provided in your research. I assume that you have tried the canvas preparation Mark recommends on linen, Have you found that to be unsatisfactory? If so my guess would be that you live in a tropical or very damp climate? Or do you prefer to work on board substrate per style or personal preference?
    dencalKaustav
  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 22
    Folks

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Forgiveness: Shellac? A very traditional finish for timber but I think we have moved a long way from beetle vomit. I usually don't have a problem filling an open grain with primers. I'm just trying to reproduce the results that Paul Ricalde obtained in the video I posted on 9 Feb on this thread.

    Guitarpro59: I have no problem with Mark's recommended Belgian linen canvas. Just looking for a less expensive and more easily available support that might offer benefits in surface character or archival qualities. I am a bit of an experimenter and use plastics, metals and timber as painting supports.

    I have now sanded the primed surface of the Basswood panel. Overall there is a smoother finish, though with roughness here and there. It looks as if the ridges have been flattened but some valleys remain.
    There was quite a lot of grey pigment sanded off.



    The next step is several coats of toned gesso. I'll get a photo report posted here in a few hours.

    Denis

    KaustavEstherH
  • Carderites

    Here is the first coat of Iron Oxide Gesso, sanded. Timber grain is gradually filling and disappearing.



    I have already done the second coat and it looks great. I will post a photo when it dries and is sanded.

    Denis.

    KaustavEstherH
  • In hindsight do you think it would have been better to sand the wood before the primer, then apply the gesso and sand?
  • Richard_P

    On removing the shrink wrap the Basswood panel had a dry silky surface not unlike balsa wood.
    Planning on six sanded coats of stuff suggested there wasn't much to be gained by sanding the raw wood. I suspect the solvent in the primer swelled the timber grain.


    Second coat Iron Oxide gesso, sanded.

    Anyhow, all appears to be filling and smoothing out. Noticing a little orange peel texture with the high density foam rollers and iron oxide gesso.

    Denis

    KaustavEstherH
  • Kaustav and Richard

    Third and final coat. Nice uniform texture overall. It has a tooth to hold the paint. Love the color.

    Third coat of Iron Oxide gesso, sanded lightly.

    Lessons:

    Don't use spray cans - smelly, expensive but quick and no brush cleaning.
    High density rollers used immediately give a very uniform surface. Removes brush marks. Cheap, easy clean, disposable.
    Surface texture is a product of the paint product. Three coats of acrylic paint would be sumooooth.
    Avoid primer products that swells the grain, or use hardwood panels.
    Prime all panel surfaces.
    Colored gesso or gesso with say, acrylic burnt umber is a great way to stain the panel.
    Washable sponge sanding blocks are a great innovation.

    Denis

    KaustavForgivenessEstherH
  • Looks good Denis!

    I've been using Iron Oxide acrylic in clear gesso for my recent paintings as it's more opaque than Burnt Umber so I need less paint in the gesso.

    You will have to let us know how this board compares to paint on compared to other surfaces you have tried.. :)
  • Nice! Hard work paid off @dencal
    Forgivenessdencal
  • edited March 12
    My first prepared panel. Acrylic primer on half inch plyboard. I kept it slightly smooth so that the surface is not too hard on brushes, because the sponge roller was leaving a very uniform but rough texture. If this smooth surface is a nonsense then I will make these a  little more rough.

    dencal
  • I'm caught in a bind with the smoothness. I like a smooth surface but I find it makes the oil paint slide around when trying to blend colours on the panel, so that the colour becomes more transparent and leaves more ridged brush marks.  :s
  • Richard_P

    Try painting on an even fine toothed toned canvas/panel. I quite like that surface and don't have any issues with detail. If you want to use a smooth surface then a light oil/medium coat wiped over will suck the paint off the brush. You can also moisten the brush with oil/ medium before you paint to assist with flow.

    Denis

  • I generally prefer a little smoother surface rather than a textured one. Even for a canvas I put a coat of oil onto primed canvas and let it sit for 24 hours or so before giving a good wipe to take out the oil so that spreadability of the paint remains good.
    dencal
  • @dencal When you say 'even fine toothed' do you mean something similar to the panel you prepared earlier in this thread, or with even more of a tooth?
  • dencaldencal -
    edited March 11
    Richard_P

    Art Spectrum has a range of papers and acrylic paint called ColourFix. Using the paint as a canvas/panel toner, creates a surface like very fine sandpaper. Very effective in hanging on to soft pastel or oil paint.



    Denis

  • Prepared two more. 
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