Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Painting - Oil Painting

Characteristics - Painting Methods - Materials and Equipment - Manufacture - Protection of the Picture

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

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

Pictures may be made on a wide variety of supporting surfaces, such as wooden panels, textiles stretched on frames, sheets of metal, plastered walls, or cardboard. In order to serve their purpose as supports, these materials are usually given a coat of priming, called the ground.

Although artists' supply stores sell many support materials already prepared with grounds, such as primed canvases, gessoed panels, or coated papers, many artists prefer to prepare their grounds and supports themselves. This chapter describes the materials and procedures for such preparation. Some remarks concerning the selection and quality of ready-made materials follow at the end of the chapter.

Most artists soon become aware that the character of the support, with its ground, has an immediate effect upon their painting method. Some grounds are rough as burlap, others smooth as ivory; some are as absorbent as blotting paper, others as non-absorbent as glass; some are bright white, on which each stroke of color stands out with a vibrant chromatic impact, others may be deep brown, on which the same colors may seem rich, mellow, and mysterious. All of these factors affect the ease with which artists establish their "aura" in the first stages of their pictures. Thus artists develop certain requirements or preferences in regard to the surface on which they paint, and failing to find ready-made that which they desire, they often produce this material themselves.

It should be added that the studio manufacture of panels and canvases is not as laborious or time-consuming as might be imagined and is less expensive with no sacrifice of quality of material.

Finally, artists who purchase their material ready-made should inform themselves as to its ingredients and process of manufacture, so that they can select, in a more knowledgeable way, that grade of materials which they need.

As the foundation of the picture, the support with its ground coats has a great effect on the durability and survival of the painting. If the support material performs badly, the picture soon suffers, and the operations involved in holding together a painting while its support is falling apart are difficult and expensive. The following points should be kept in mind when a support is selected.

l. The support must wear well. That is, as it ages it should not crack or become so brittle that it may break or fall apart when moved or handled.

2. The support should change its shape as little as possible after the picture has dried. Movements of expansion, warping, and contraction should be kept to a minimum.

3. The nature of the support should be such that layers of paint and priming can adhere well to it. The strength of the bond between the support and the layers of paint is affected by the tooth, or roughness, of the support and its absorbency or porosity.

[pp. 93-94]

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



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