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Old 02-01-2013, 01:08 PM
oddsat oddsat is offline
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Oil on Bare Wood?

I have a piece of thin, 1/8 inch-ish wood I'd like to reuse as a painting surface. It would be nice to let some of the wood grain show through the paint. If I sand it down nicely, would it be okay to apply paint directly to the wood? I'm just worried about the paint not adhering very well. Maybe some acrylic washes would help make it more elastic?
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:04 PM
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Freesail Freesail is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

It's "ok" to do anything, but if you want it to last you don't. There has to be at least 100 threads on wet canvas about preparing painting panels. Do a search on here or google.

Welcome to wet canvas.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:48 PM
oddsat oddsat is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

Haha thanks, and yep, I did do a quick search and found some good info. I decided that since the materials I'm using (part of an industrial wire spindle and old student-grade paints and brushes) are not ideal and can't be supplemented/substituted with new ones, it might present some problems that warranted more advice, but perhaps not spending hours pouring through tutorials and threads when I could just be painting!
I definitely should've worded it better though.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:50 PM
oddsat oddsat is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

I'm not too concerned with the painting's longevity, but more with annoying problems during or directly after painting. Maybe a better question would be:

Are there any immediate concerns with painting directly on low-quality wood that would make it unreasonably difficult to make detailed paintings?
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:02 PM
lovin art lovin art is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

Nope you can paint on just about anything .... I have even used low grade drawing paper .... Or just for the heck of it a pizza cardboard lid ripped off , works like a dream ....in fact I do all my best work on cheap backing ...lol
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:07 PM
dafy dafy is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

I believe Rembrandt, very occasionally, painted on wood, for small pieces.

Why not just use some gesso on the wood? Rabbitskin and chalk, or even the acrylic stuff?

I would never personally paint directly on wood because the paint would never stop sinking. I'd have flat shadows that I couldn't judge. Then you throw on a varnish, a couple years later, and you think, wow, where'd that blob of colour come from, and why aren't my shadows right?
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:15 PM
Dave Johnson Dave Johnson is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

I'm not sure what your plan is. Do you want the grain of the wood to show through the same way you can see it in a piece of furniture? If that's true, then you'll have to paint transparently so you don't cover it up.

You can paint on bare wood, but it would really soak up your paint. Perhaps you can use a clear wood sealer first, and then paint over that after it dries. As for doing a detailed painting, this would require a smooth surface, so you'd want to give your surface a good sanding first.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:40 PM
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Freesail Freesail is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

They do sell clear acrylic gesso which would allow the wood grain to show through.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:05 AM
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Ron Francis Ron Francis is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

Yes, GAC 100 from Golden would do it.

As Dave said, the wood will suck a lot of oil out of your paint, possibly leaving it underbound and matte, so it would be good to stop the absorption.
I've been thinking about this lately too as I may do a trompe l'oeil on a table top so that the background is timber.
Clear acrylic is not easily sandable, so I'm thinking that if I polish the timber with linseed oil first, that should create a good surface to paint on.
This would take time though as you need to saturate the timber and maybe let it dry.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:00 AM
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NancyMP NancyMP is online now
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

I thought I heard somewhere about clear primers. It could depend on what kind of painting you're doing. About 40 years ago, I painted a very loose flower painting on smooth but beautifully grained wood for my brother. Have no idea whether it had a coating or not, because I didn't know that much about painting then. I used straight oil paint and palette knives. I don't know where it is now, most likely with my niece, but for twenty years it looked very fresh.

It was thicker wood than you describe; you might want to seal the back side so it doesn't warp. And if you need to sand it down to paint on it, you'll lose some of your paint into it.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:05 AM
tedn1 tedn1 is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

Use this:

http://www.dickblick.com/items/00628...FQyZ4AodSWUA-g

AND this:

http://www.dickblick.com/products/go...kTracking=true

OR just this:


http://www.dickblick.com/products/ga...itional-gesso/
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:02 PM
llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: Oil on Bare Wood?

Even if you protect the wood with a clear primer, you'll probably have a problem with the color of the wood changing in the painting as it ages. Like some other natural organic colors, that nice warm cast to the wood will turn to gray. (Think about a piece of wood that's been sitting out in the sun for a while.) The very thing that makes it attractive now will be gone.

That's not to say don't do it. I've seen oil paintings with a visible wood carrier, and it can look great. But it won't last.
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