Oil studies on paper

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Oil studies on paper

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Greg Scheckler wrote:
Acrylic gloss medium and acrylic gesso have the same binder. Seems to me that you could use one or the other and that either would seal the paper equally well?

Virgil, is diluting the first layer a way to prevent buckling and warping of the paper?

Any ideas about what artists in the 19th century did?

Greg,

Unless there is a sizing layer separating the support from the ground, the ground can become discolored eventually, a well-known phenomenon called SID (support-induced discoloration). The gesso itself it somewhat porous, due to the nature of the pigments involved. Using diluted acrylic gloss medium as a sizing works because it has no pigment in it.

I doubt we can say with certainty that all of the 19th century artists used the same thing, but in any case, the studies done on paper were studies, executed as reference material, where permanence was not an important concern. The fact that some of these remain in good condition might be misleading. They will have been mounted on canvas or panel, and otherwise treated by museum conservators as needed. Also remember that the 19th century was relatively recent. One can get by with just about anything in the short term. Archivalness is gauged in terms of multiple centuries.

If one were not in a hurry to get started, perhaps the best thing would be to size with PVA and prime with white lead, then let it cure for six months before painting on it. In the 19th century the sizing would have been hide glue in weak solution, in most cases, but casein has also been used in some instances. Hide glue brings more extreme changes in tension with changes in humidity, which exacerbates the problems of cracking in old paintings. Casein is not flexible enough to be used on flexible supports.

Virgil