View Full Version : question about paper
10-11-2006, 05:14 AM
I've been using acid-free 100% rag for drawings and colored pencil, but I have 2 grades of bristol board (both acid free but made from wood pulp), and several rolls of acid-free (source not specified, so I assume it's wood pulp) paper that I'd like to use for charcoal and graphite, but don't dare because of the quality of the supports. My question is this: would priming the paper (front and back) with my acrylic gesso nullify any concerns over using these non-rag/non-cotton papers? It seems to me the main concern with wood pulp based papers is yellowing, but that obviously wouldn't be a problem if they were primed. Or is there a concern about the paper deteriorating under the gesso? Or is it just a bad idea because non-cotton paper (even if covered over every inch by gesso) would be a poor selling point?
Can someone who's experinced with using acrylic on paper comment on this for me? Thanks!
10-11-2006, 02:14 PM
I don't really know, but since no one's addressed your question, I'll take a stab at it.
I find that the image is more important to my clients than what the support is. And although I generally paint on stretched canvas, if I wanted to use that paper, I think coating it with gesso would be a good way to go.
10-11-2006, 08:17 PM
It seems to me the main concern with wood pulp based papers is yellowing, but that obviously wouldn't be a problem if they were primed.
I can think of no reason to not prime the paper with acrylic, but before doing that you might want to consider whether the "wood pulp" you refer to was sold to you as "artist quality" or as "archival quality" stock. If the answer is "yes" then I wouldn't worry about using the un-primed paper for my art work.
The paper making processes used today not only neutralize the acidic content of "wood pulp" papers but there is also a buffering agent used in the art papers that further assures their longevity. There should be no appreciable yellowing in your lifetime if you're investing in a quality artist product.
10-11-2006, 08:24 PM
I've seen a somewhat famous artist actually gesso over printed newspaper & paint over that with acrylics & use in her paintings. (& yes, she sells them to the public for big bucks) so I would say do it.
10-12-2006, 02:40 AM
Thanks for the responses everybody. None of the papers I'm concerned about say "archival" or "artist" quality. The Bristols are Strathmore -- one pad of 300 series and one of 400 series. The cover on the 400 series pad specifically says for use "when the longevity of cotton fibers is not required." I'll definitely gesso that one before use.
I used to use gessoed paper with compressed charcoal and really loved the look, but I would prefer to use the plain paper surfaces if possible. I've always thought of acrylic gesso as bullet-proof, I just wasn't sure that quality would be imparted to the support. I'll continue to mull over this one a bit.
P.S. Thanks for the tip ginger, but I'm not famous enough to get away with that sort of thing. ;)
10-12-2006, 04:15 AM
My question is this: would priming the paper (front and back) with my acrylic gesso nullify any concerns over using these non-rag/non-cotton papers?
Not entirely, but it would provide a great deal of additional help so that the paper lasts in good condition longer. Many commercial papers are buffered - include additions of alkaline minerals to help offset any increased acidity over time - and acrylic primers will do this to some degree also, both because the medium itself is highly alkaline but also a portion of 'gesso' is marble dust or something similar.
What to use in terms of longevity is very much a matter for each artist to decide for themselves. Personally I very much like the idea of professional artists working to make art that endures in good condition and this is easily attainable without having to compromise 'artistically' in any way.
FWIW I have some student acrylic works from the early 80s painted on cheap wood-pulp paper that appear to be in exactly the condition they were when new (these are done with a fairly solid, uniform coat of acrylic paint). This isn't to recommend that we paint on anything of this type but it gives some idea of what kind of lifespan one might expect; note though, if you painted in a thinner manner, something like watercolour technique, you could easily see some ageing of the paper if there is much exposure to daylight over the same amount of time.
10-13-2006, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the response einion. If I use the gesso it would be applied in several layers and sanded beteween so I could have as sweet a surface as possible. The gessoing idea wouldn't be an artistic compromise since I'm familiar with working that way, I just haven't done it in a while. Maybe it's time to resurrect some old techniques for this purpose and restrict my graphite and ink work to the archival stuff.
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