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View Full Version : Step away from that Gesso!


ZanBarrage
07-11-2011, 11:06 PM
For anyone who paints in oil and still uses Gesso as their ground, you have no idea what you are missing. I didn't until last week frankly. After much research and consultation I finally tried the Zinsser Cover Stain OIL BASED primer sealer. This is not the BIN primer sealer. It is oil - not shellack based. It covers very well and dries in about 2 hrs.

When I was using Gesso, my paints sunk as they dried. They lost the luster and the colours were off and dusty. I would compensate by varnishing, but that brought them back only half way to what they were supposed to be. The oil based sealer primer changed ALL that honestly you just have to try it that is all I can say. You can buy a small can for $8-$15 depending on where you live. It is well worth it believe me.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jul-2011/86381-6d694361-8067-4a88-a229-8be804fc2f0a_300.jpg

I know there are some who have concocted formulas with gesso adding stuff and making it a bit better, but this is a whole different level. Mind you I did gesso the panels a while back and these were the same panels I added the oil based primer sealer to but the gesso will only help in preservation now without sucking the life out of my work.

Try it. You will thank me.

Wyn Easton
07-12-2011, 07:37 AM
I've thought about using "Kilz" instead of gesso. I think it would work as well as what you have here. It is oil based and even comes in a spray can. Any thoughts?

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 08:39 AM
Hi Wayn,

I am not sure about the composition of Kilz and I have not used it so I can't comment on its value, but I would suggest that if it is a sealer/primer and is oil based, it should work. Try it! What have you got to lose except a few bucks? The benefits - if it performs like the Zinsser Cover Stain are enormous and well worth the experiment.

I will never go back to Gesso again.

sidbledsoe
07-12-2011, 09:42 AM
When I was using Gesso, my paints sunk as they dried. They lost the luster and the colours were off and dusty.

I precondition an absorbent gesso surface with a oil paint toned layer and then apply medium with a rag, then paint. All it is is the gesso sucking up some oil from the intitial application. You can get Kilz original primer in oil or in a new acrylic base now. The oil base is not healthy to breath, I have used it plenty for house painting purposes for which it was designed. I mean it is wicked and off the hook harsh, I would not use that. They put some nasty penetrating solvents in that because it is designed to seal off nasty, rusty, moldy, even grease stained walls.

E.Milz
07-12-2011, 11:00 AM
For anyone who paints in oil and still uses Gesso as their ground, you have no idea what you are missing. I didn't until last week frankly. After much research and consultation I finally tried the Zinsser Cover Stain OIL BASED primer sealer. This is not the BIN primer sealer. It is oil - not shellack based. It covers very well and dries in about 2 hrs.

When I was using Gesso, my paints sunk as they dried. They lost the luster and the colours were off and dusty. I would compensate by varnishing, but that brought them back only half way to what they were supposed to be. The oil based sealer primer changed ALL that honestly you just have to try it that is all I can say. You can buy a small can for $8-$15 depending on where you live. It is well worth it believe me.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jul-2011/86381-6d694361-8067-4a88-a229-8be804fc2f0a_300.jpg

I know there are some who have concocted formulas with gesso adding stuff and making it a bit better, but this is a whole different level. Mind you I did gesso the panels a while back and these were the same panels I added the oil based primer sealer to but the gesso will only help in preservation now without sucking the life out of my work.

Try it. You will thank me.

Whow, I would love to try it out and thank you big time as I hate to paint on gesso. But do you know if there is a way for me in europe to get my hands on it?

cheers
E.Milz

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 11:06 AM
Sid,

I tried that and it is better than Gesso of course because you are building a layer between it and your paint, but it does not compare to what I am suggesting honestly. And for the record, you should never use any of these products in an enclosed area of course. Ventelation is very important. I think that is a given.

E,
I can't suggest an equivalent ion Europe, but you can look at the specifications (Google the product) and get something comparable I am sure you have that in Europe given that most of your houses are older and would have oil paint on them/in them. :)

Wyn,
I just checked Kilz out and yes it should do the same thing if you use the oil based one.

boomerbeach
07-12-2011, 01:59 PM
Yep! Been usin' that Zinnser primer these past 2-3yrs and a half-gal will last a long while, also, easily mixed with various tints to make for differing under-paint
shade/values. I must credit an outstanding painter friend, Stephen Mirich, of the Portuguese Bend Art Colony for his recommendation of same. He's been using Zinnser for many years. :thumbsup:

manfrommerriam
07-12-2011, 02:11 PM
I was about to run out to Home ____, a chain store here that stocks this stuff. Then I saw a comment on the DTYChatRoom website in which an experienced person complained that this product goes on poorly; in such a way that heavy brush marks result. Can any of you comment on this?
Have fun, Dave

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 02:24 PM
If you like to have a bit of texture you can brush it on and yes it will give you a nice textured effect (bad for walls great for panels.) If you prefer a smooth surface, I would suggest that you use a roller.

See my works in my previous post here:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=940153
You can see the texture that I intentionally created with the ground on the second and third artworks.

PS: What is the DTY chatroom??:confused:

Sarah Judson
07-12-2011, 04:01 PM
I would wonder how archival it is. It might last a hundred years, but...?

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 04:17 PM
It is an outdoor primer/sealer Sarah. Once it is dry, it seals everything in the panel away from the paints and as a primer it is meant to hold on to the paint nicely. I don't know what more we can ask for. I am not sure what you are saying though.

E.Milz
07-12-2011, 05:19 PM
Sid,

I tried that and it is better than Gesso of course because you are building a layer between it and your paint, but it does not compare to what I am suggesting honestly. And for the record, you should never use any of these products in an enclosed area of course. Ventelation is very important. I think that is a given.

E,
I can't suggest an equivalent ion Europe, but you can look at the specifications (Google the product) and get something comparable I am sure you have that in Europe given that most of your houses are older and would have oil paint on them/in them. :)

Wyn,
I just checked Kilz out and yes it should do the same thing if you use the oil based one.
I will check it out, thanks for the pointer mate. Sometimes one needs a kick in the butt for a change. I too hate the drying out of the paint with the use of gesso but didnt do anything about it.

cheers
E.Milz

Ian Bruce
07-12-2011, 06:27 PM
I am sure that Zinsser oil primer will work just fine. My only caveat is that fast drying oil-based house primers use large quantities of cheap dryer in the formulation. This tends to cause the paint to become yellowed or brownish over time (a few months). So make sure that you don't leave any of the primer uncovered. Of course, If you tone the support with a strong color, yellowing is not a problem--even if some of the toning shows through.

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 07:07 PM
E,

The product is sold in the UK so I think you should find it in the EU as well.

ZanBarrage
07-12-2011, 07:07 PM
Ian,

I will test a strip and leave it outdoors and see what happens.

PS: OK I just painted a strip of plywood. Once it dries I will cover half and place it in the full sun. We should have an idea if it starts yellowing in a few weeks.

cameronm
07-12-2011, 11:18 PM
I precondition an absorbent gesso surface with a oil paint toned layer and then apply medium with a rag, then paint.

I'm just starting with oils and am wondering if you could describe this process a bit more? Do you paint over the dried gesso with what might be considered an undercoat of oil paint? When you apply the medium, is this done after the oil paint is dry, or while still wet? Does any medium work? I have Liquin original and fine detail, linseed oil and OMS. Would any of this work for the process you describe? Thanks in advance!

sidbledsoe
07-13-2011, 06:39 AM
I have sent a PM with photos and description of what I do.
Zan's primer will work just fine I am sure, similarly to what he is using, I have also used Winsor Newton's Oil primer and toned it also. but I don't have any right now, it is costly and I want a usage for my left over palette scrapings other than throwing unused paint away.
Some primers you may find are too thick or too thin in consistency, you can thin but can't thicken it easily.
You will also find a sweet spot of priming that you like and suits you after you experiment with these things and get out and throw some paint down on them, bye for now!

manfrommerriam
07-13-2011, 12:21 PM
Zan:
Sorry, not DTY... it is DIY... ("do it yourself")... = www.diychatroom.com
Have fun, Dave

cameronm
07-13-2011, 12:22 PM
Thanks Sid. Much appreciated!

ZanBarrage
07-13-2011, 04:02 PM
By the way: If you chose to use the Zinsser Cover all DON'T thin it. They specifically say that if you do you lose the sealing effect and that is the main purpose so that you avoid the fumes from the ground or panel.

Cameron, I would strongly advise you to pay the $15 at home depot and get a small can. You will be happy you did.

Dave ya I figured it out and saw the posts. Agreed it is thick and will leave brush marks but as I said that is bad for walls but may be good for panels. If not use a roller :)

Ian Bruce
07-13-2011, 07:50 PM
Ian,

I will test a strip and leave it outdoors and see what happens.

PS: OK I just painted a strip of plywood. Once it dries I will cover half and place it in the full sun. We should have an idea if it starts yellowing in a few weeks.

I think the primer may yellow more away from direct sunlight. White oil paints (artists colors) often yellow somewhat in the dark and it is fairly common practice to put the painting in direct sunlight for a while to restore brilliance of the whites and pale tints. Yellowing of the linseed oil in the paint in the dark is not the same reaction that causes colored pigments to fade in sunlight.

I have noticed that when a slow drying oil-based white enamel top-coat is applied over a fast drying oil primer--whether a house primers or a Marine primer--any area where there are 'holidays,' (missed spots) the exposed primer will be almost as white as the top-coat at first but will become increasingly obvious as these patches darken over time.

The manufacturers are aware that certain metallic dryers cause yellowing and are careful to formulate top-coats to avoid this as much as possible. It is so advantageous that primers dry quickly that speed of drying is selected over resistance to yellowing.

ZanBarrage
07-13-2011, 08:03 PM
I an you may be very right on this. If someone is going to leave areas of the panel with primer only, you may want to consider adding a coat of white paint over that. I rarely if ever leave an area of my work unpainted unless it is the edge that will be hidden in a frame.

So while I strongly suspect that you are right (you seem to know about this stuff) I can't see that this would be a deterrent. Even if you are going to glaze over the primer, that should seal it. As to paintings staying in dark places, sure, but that happens for all works not just a primer. I use artist colours and it happens to me sometimes if I leave a work in a dark place for some time. What is your remedy for that?

sidbledsoe
07-13-2011, 09:24 PM
Ian is correct about the driers, due to the unknowns involved with this hardware grade primer, I would recommend some of this oil primer (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/oil-color-paints-and-mediums/winsor-and-newton-oil-colors-and-mediums/winsor-and-newton-oil-painting-primer.htm)made by Winsor Newton, designed for artistic usage.

ZanBarrage
07-13-2011, 09:35 PM
Sid to each his own I guess. I don't work for Zinsser so I have no issues here. My only concern is that the W&N is not a sealer and while it "may" be a better ground, I am concerned about the fumes from the panel. A sealer is a must if you are working on anything but stretched canvas.

ZanBarrage
07-19-2011, 10:18 PM
I think the primer may yellow more away from direct sunlight. White oil paints (artists colors) often yellow somewhat in the dark and it is fairly common practice to put the painting in direct sunlight for a while to restore brilliance of the whites and pale tints. Yellowing of the linseed oil in the paint in the dark is not the same reaction that causes colored pigments to fade in sunlight.

I have noticed that when a slow drying oil-based white enamel top-coat is applied over a fast drying oil primer--whether a house primers or a Marine primer--any area where there are 'holidays,' (missed spots) the exposed primer will be almost as white as the top-coat at first but will become increasingly obvious as these patches darken over time.

The manufacturers are aware that certain metallic dryers cause yellowing and are careful to formulate top-coats to avoid this as much as possible. It is so advantageous that primers dry quickly that speed of drying is selected over resistance to yellowing.


Hi Ian,

I picked up a few of the panels that I did about a month ago and have not used yet and put them next to ones that I just did yesterday. You are right. There is a very slight yellowing (graying) in the white. Now here is my question based on what you said above. If I am filling the panel with paint will it matter? If in other words I am not using glazes where the white of the ground will show through or be used to as light glaze ground?

old_hobbyist
07-20-2011, 02:59 PM
I know this thread is designed for the oil painter, but I have been using the shellac-based Zinsser sealer to seal oil paintings that I buy at flea markets. This allows me to paint on reasonably good quality but really cheap canvas with my acrylics. I have not seen a bleed-thru yet and the acrylic really loves to stick to the shellac.

Ian Bruce
07-20-2011, 08:14 PM
Hi Ian,

I picked up a few of the panels that I did about a month ago and have not used yet and put them next to ones that I just did yesterday. You are right. There is a very slight yellowing (graying) in the white. Now here is my question based on what you said above. If I am filling the panel with paint will it matter? If in other words I am not using glazes where the white of the ground will show through or be used to as light glaze ground?

I don't see that the yellowing is a problem so long as you are using any style that leave areas of primer exposed. I suppose if you do a vignette over a thin transparent wash and leave a lot of the wash exposed, the background may change color over time.

I don't know how flexible this primer is. Primers that dry hard enough to sand easily probably should only be used on panels. I would hesitate to use any household primer on stretched canvas. It may be flexible initially but harden up over time and start to crack.

It seems to me that the Zinsser oil primer should be perfectly acceptable used on canvas panel, plywood or masonite.

Zinsser also makes a clear shellac primer that is dewaxed and contains no stearates. Waxes and stearates cause adhesion problems in some brands of pre-mixed shellac. Pure shellac like this makes an interesting base to paint over. If you seal birch plywood with clear shellac you can get some fascinating effects by letting some of the wood grain show through. Often one side of the ply is quite white and the other is reddish.

If you like painting over very smooth white surfaces, pigmented white shellac dries very quickly, is ready for re-coating in no time and sands very cleanly and crisply--unlike acrylic gesso which is often quite rubbery. Rubbery is good on stretched canvas. You should not use shellac on stretched canvas.

ZanBarrage
07-20-2011, 09:31 PM
Thanks Ian. I had started using this product to seal the panels before discovering how nicely the paint stayed fresh on it. So I won't use it on canvas as you suggested, but panels is what I need it for. I will continue to use it since I don't let much of the white surface show on my paintings except by accident.

When I talked to the guy at the HW store he was very knowledgeable and when I told him what I was using it for he asked a few more questions and then took the can of BIN he was about to suggest and handed me the Cover All. He said that the oil base will help with adhesion better than the BIN for oil paint.
Anyway here is a fact sheet on the product.
http://www.rawlinspaints.com/documents/coverstain_tds.pdf

Thanks again.

Liz Abeyta
07-31-2011, 07:07 PM
Hi Zan,
Good timing with the thread. I have several small panels drying in the yard right now! I saw this product on Stapelton Kearns' blog a while back. I prepped my panels first with GAC100, and then lightly sanded. I then put on 2 (unthinned) coats with a foam roller and plan to sand lightly before I paint. Just wondering how you are applying it and how long you wait before you paint on the panels?

ZanBarrage
07-31-2011, 07:45 PM
Hi Liz,

I just finished a week of painting and camping. I did 21 8x10 on primed panels. I love the priming with the Zinsser product. The colours stay pure and clean and never sink in!

I haven't needed to paint immediately on the panels after priming, but I guess a couple of days should do it. They say it dries in hours but I think it is better to let it rest for a day or two. I wanted some texture on my panels so I used a wide wall painting bristle brush but a roller should be just fine, DO NOT thin the product at all. It is heavy but that is how it is supposed to be. I don't like panels that are too smooth so I don't sand at all. But to each his own I guess :) I fine they become slippery if they are sanded.

djfinkeldei
08-02-2011, 11:44 AM
Zinsser Oil Based Cover-stain primer sealer is made by Rustoleum.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Technical Data Sheet (TDS) is available at http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGResourceCenter.asp?sn=ms2&msdstyp=PROCBG&msdsprc=222

In a nutshell, here it is:

MSDS
Hazardous Ingredients:
Aliphatic Petroleum Distillates 64742-89-8 500 ppm N/E
Kaolin 1332-58-7 15 mg/m3 (5 mg/m3 *) 2 mg/m3*
Limestone 1317-65-3 15 mg/m3 (5 mg/m3 *) 10 mg/m3 (3 mg/m3 *)
Propane 74-98-6 1000 ppm 1000 ppm
Talc 14807-96-6 20 mppcf 10 mg/m3 = (3 mg/m3)
Titanium dioxide 13463-67-7 15 mg/m3 10 mg/m3
VM&P Naphtha

Ingestion: Although ingestion is not anticipated route of exposure, this material can be harmful if swallowed. It may cause depression of the central nervous system, nausea, and vomiting.
Inhalation: May cause headache, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory tract irritation.
Potential Chronic Health Effects: None known.
Carcinocenicity: This material is not considered a carcinogen by IARC or NTP and is not regulated as a carcinogen by OSHA.
Stability: Stable, non-reactive.

Seems to me to be ok to use. Probably not any more harmful than other things oil artists use - but precautionary measures for the above health effects should be taken. I wouldn't think yellowing would be much of an issue if the primer is covered by oil paint although yellowing might occur where the primer is left uncovered. I'll try it sometime. I don't like acrylic based Gesso for the reasons everyone states although some artists like the dry brush effect they can get on a highly absorbent surface.

If your collectors start complaining in a hundred years or so about yellowing, you may want to discontinue the use of Zinsser.

djfinkeldei
08-03-2011, 04:28 PM
Well, I'm thoroughly impressed. I did a 12 x 16 this morning using Zinsser Cover Stain Primer-sealer-stain killer and bond coat. Colors haven't sunk in. What I really like about it is that you can paint higher value and darker value accents without letting the painting dry. It sticks and doesn't sink in or get muddy. I recommend this over acrylic based gesso. Nice stuff and for plein aire it's perfect. Allows you to complete a painting in entirety including accents while the paint is still wet.

ZanBarrage
08-03-2011, 04:51 PM
I am happy you tried it and like it :)

Lemonhead
08-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Upon reading this I went out immediately and bought some, let it dry for a couple of days, and I am currently testing it. So far the results are positive, using gesso sucked all the oil out of the paints and I also used sanded shellac it was like painting on glass, didn't like it, the paint slid around too much.
The paint "sticks" well to this Zinsser base coat.
Question, How many layers did other people put on?
Has anyone tried adding a tint to it, if the pigment would slow the drying time or not?
I am using a foam roller, and it dries almost like cold pressed wc paper on flat surfaces, and it allows the texture of the canvas to come through as well.
I will post my results when I get a chance, I just wanted to thank you for posting this, this is a great alternative for having oil primed plein air panels.
Jeff

ZanBarrage
08-06-2011, 03:30 PM
Glad you like it Jeff. I just put one layer. It is very thick and that is what they recommend. I haven't tried tinting. I like to tint my panels on site so I can get a unifying local colour.

One note of alarm from your post: Are you using this on stretched canvas? You said:"...it allows the texture of the canvas to come through as well." If you are using it on canvas panels, no problem, but I would shy away from using it on stretched canvas until someone tests its elasticity. If it dries brittle on canvas, it may crack.

Lemonhead
08-06-2011, 05:11 PM
I am using it on canvas panels, not stretched.