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Hi Esam33 -
If by gesso you mean hide glue and powdered calcium (this is
traditional gesso), I would not use it at all on canvas. Depending on the amount
of the calcium, it will crack easily. I know this from personal experience and
it is backed up by a lot of research at MITRA.
If you mean the modern, acrylic-based ground, often called “gesso”,
then yes, I think acrylic-based grounds are better on canvas (of any kind: unprimed,
pre-primed or you don’t know ). If you have sinking in problems, it may be partly from the amount of calcium
in your ground. Or, if your use GAC or PVA, it may have allowed the oil from
your paint to go into the fabric and be absorbed there.
I suggest you try an acrylic ground or medium which does not
have any calcium to give it tooth. I agree with Richard P that two layers will
be better than one layer. An acrylic ground will be much thicker than either
GAC or PVA, and provide better blocking between the fabric and the oil.
I use an acrylic ground, followed by a layer of thin oil paint, which helps prevent sinking in. I paint my painting on top of these two layers.
I think that GAC and PVA by themselves don’t seal the fabric of the canvas
from the oil paint’s oil well enough, which may lead to problems if the oil seeps
into the fabric. It can cause deterioration of the fabric within 30 years. I
know this from personal experience, and it is backed up by research at MITRA.
One of the advantages of being old like me is that you
actually have seen the consequences of your mistakes. ....Please let us know what works and what does not.
Navel gazing and procrastination: I agree.
Paint on what you can, and let someone else later on conserve it: I disagree.
I think that many people paint for themselves or for family members
and want to have the best results. There is a middle ground between unworthy
and worthy of conservation; and beloved family heirlooms fall into this middle
ground. The vast majority of ordinary people who own oil paintings would never
think of conservation or even know what it is; yet they would want to keep
grandmother’s painting in good shape if they could. If grandmother’s painting falls apart later
rather than sooner, this is good. This goodness, if not an accident, starts
with the painter knowing materials and processes.
I think there are many beginners who live in countries in
which good quality art supplies are difficult to find. Also, it takes some knowledge
in order to decide if some pre-primed canvas is good quality or not. (How would you decide? What are the criteria? Is it based on brand reputation? etc.) For these
reasons, I tend to write longer responses, with more information about various aspects.
This may be considered unnecessary by experienced painters, but may be
appreciated by beginners.
I was once a beginner, and remember what it was like.
tassieguy – I respect the passion of your response. To use phrases such as you did - “who’s
primary need is to,” “They need to learn to draw” and “then they should” is directive.
Not everyone follows the sequence of proficiency you directed: first composition
and drawing, then material handling. Also, not everyone who is a beginner thinks
of learning and using good craftsmanship in constructing substrates as a waste
of time. I do understand that you do, and I support you in this for yourself. However,
others may come to a different, and equally valid, decision.
I think that developing
knowledge about substrates and materials at the same time as drawing, composition,
and paint handling is fine. It was the way I was taught in art school many
years ago. Mr. Carder gives great advice on materials, studio set up, and paint
handling. None of this is related to composition. I am unaware where he tells
people to not worry about materials until they have achieved good composition or basic painting skills. Could you please direct me to it?
We have no
idea what level of painting expertise Esam33 has, and we have no idea what kind
of art products are easily available where Esam33 lives. To give useful information
to someone who specifically requested it, is the basis of most of the excellent
Q&As I have read here over the years. It is in this spirit that I