Tips on Oil Painting – Canvas Priming


When you refuse to buy any of the pre-fabricated canvases you can always buy a roll of primed or raw canvas cloth. The first step in the process towards constructing a finished canvas is the stretching of the canvas. Once the stretching is done it is time to prime the canvas cloth if you bought a roll of raw canvas.

The reason it is necessary to prime a raw canvas is that both linen and cotton cloth will always rot when arranged with oil paint. To prevent the occurrence of rotting the canvas cloth must be treated with a glue or gelatin solution to so-call "size" the canvas and then covered with an oil-based primer.

Here are the steps to be executed in the priming process:

1) After stretching the raw canvas, even brush the weak glue or gelatin solution onto the raw canvas using a wide nylon or bristle brush. Note, do not stretch raw canvas too tight, because the priming will shrink the canvas cloth and therefore tighten it automatically.

2) When the fabric dries, coat it with a mixture of white lead in oil and turpentine, again using a wide brush. The brilliant white surface that results makes it easier to gauge the colors you will be using while you paint.

3) Once the canvas is dry, sand it lightly.

4) Then, apply a second coat of the white lead in oil and turpentine solution, and sand the canvas again.

All these materials and the accompanying instructions can be bought in a serious art supply store or on the Internet.

Many artists also enjoy working on wood panels, which is a proving support for oil painting. The old masters worked on oak, poplar, and mahogany, but today "wood panel" can mean anything from a piece of poplar to plywood to masonite. The latter is increasingly popular because it is inexpensive, durable, and can be cut into virtually any size.

Wood panels are perfect for rendering intricate, detailed subjects where the weave of the canvas might be too uneven. You can buy prepared boards or you can make your own. You must prime the panel with gesso before you begin painting. Dilute the gesso with water; apply it with a wide house painter's brush, let it dry, and then sand it smooth. Repeat the process two or more times. If you like a slighter rougher tooth, add less water and do not sand the board.

You can also oil paint on watercolor paper or vellum. You can size the paper with an acrylic medium first so that the oil paint does not ever rot the paper. If you want to make your painting last longer (permanence) you need to choose heavy paper of at least 200 lbs.

This is the end of short primer on priming different grounds for the purpose of oil painting. There is much more to learn but this will give you sufficient information to go to a reputable art supply store and be able to converse intelligently on the subject of priming and priming methods. This will certainly start the conversation and you will learn right there about the latest techniques andventions regarding priming and while you're at it also about stretching canvases.


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