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Sizing Cotton Canvas with PVA Size

Hi, has anyone sized unprimed cotton canvas with a PVA size? i was specifically thinking of trying the Gamblin one.  Would be interested to know your experiences with it...


  • I haven’t personally sized my own canvas, but am planning on stretching my own as soon as I have the finances and freedom of workspace (I set up a “studio” in the corner of my living room in a 2 bedroom apartment I share with my wife and son) but from what I have read, pva seems like it has the potential to disintegrate after time, and could at some point leave your remaining painting “unprotected”, after doing a lot of research it seems the best way to prepare canvas in place of using rabbit skin glue (something I can’t bring myself to do, and also has the potential to swell and cause cracking in a humid environment) would be these two products by golden artist colors. Gac 400 (the fabric stiffener, making the canvas hard like rabbit skin glue would do which adds to its archival quality), followed by one (or two if your really paranoid) layer(s) of Gac 100 which will effectively emulate the hardening effect of rabbit skin glue, while also providing a guarenteed protection from strikethrough that will last several hundred years. This is not experiencial, but from extensive research and therefore I sincerely hope someone who paints in oil (I am honestly an acrylic painter, saving up the money for Geneva paint, and a nice big roll of centurion primed canvas + the brushes on the draw mix paint supply list) and who also has experience with these products, or other sizing alternatives to rabbit skin glue can chime in and help correct me, affirm my statements, or just tell me I’m bous sin bogus and educate me- whatever the case may be! Haha, I have put a link to these products with the article I read in case you are Interested.
  • edited November 2020
    @ConnorDios I wasn't familiar with GAC 400...I have used GAC 100 to seal wood panels. Have you seen this video? Has a lot of good tips, including to seal the back of the canvass (including the staples) as well.  He seems pretty convinced that the Gamblin PVA is ok for the long haul.  He also adds some layers of acrylic gesso over that before applying oil ground.  

  • @Csontvary that is pretty Interesting thanks for sharing! It seems that the same conservative concerns regarding the use of any alkyd based ground or primer is the where the topic of debate arises with the use of pva. I suppose they say that any alkyd based primer or size affects its archival potential to some degree because of the way the ph reacts with that of the oil. I’m not sure about that, and also not sure about the experiments which say pva size can allow a certain amount of strikethrough, but I hope someone who is more experienced than us can clear it up! Although in the meantime my friend I am sure you will be just fine with that method! I would honestly think that you could even skip that acrylic gesso and just throw down two coats of pva with a few coats of oil primer (2-3) and be fine, but that is completely based off of research and not my own experience.
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