Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gesso vs. Oil Ground

Oil priming is the way to go. It is more messy & smelly, but the surface is a million times better. It has a smoothness and shine that just takes paint beautifully. While acrylic gesso has a rubbery plastic feel, and absorbs oil paint in a way that is not as graceful. However it is cheaper and faster and much less smelly.

I'm painting on gesso this week, mainly because I realized it is more cost efficient for the price I'm selling my paintings at right now. It doesn't make sense to put $$$$ into my paintings (plus much more labor), when I only get $ in return. I am only doing this on tiny paintings, and I feel guilty for it because I want to use the best materials possible. But I only have so much money to pour into my art right now, and until I start more money flowing in I think I have to cut some corners and compromise a little so I can pay my rent.

But I'm realizing I really really don't like gesso surfaces for oil. (For Acrylic it's fine, but I only used acrylic with mixed media because it doesn't eat away at cloth/paper the way oil does.) To me, using acrylic is like shooting video instead of film. It just doesn't have the softness that oil does.

I was reading this book the other day called Chemistry & Artist colors. Most of it is way over my head, but I did start to get a hint of understanding of the molecular constitution of oil paint and how it changes as it dries. It was very interesting. I'm curious to know about the make-up of acrylics. I'll have to keep reading that book. But it's slow going with all the symbols of molecules and how they interact with other molecules. I have to reread sections quite a bit.


thepoppypainter said...

I came across your site when I Googled oil ground vs gesso. I have recently sprung $20 for oil ground and have been trowelling and scraping a layer to each of my acrylic gesso primed canvases. I enjoy the feel of painting more and therefore paint more. When the painting is dry the colors appear more vibrant (and don't dry flat/dull in spots like they do on gessoed canvases). Money well spent!

Bekka Teerlink said...

Yes... whenever I paint with oil on gesso it gives a more dry chalky feel to the finish painting. But with oil ground the oil painting is somehow more luminescent when it's done. They definitely take the paint very differently.