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Old 10-12-2017, 07:24 PM
Matthew S-M Matthew S-M is offline
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what to paint on,

I'm trying to oil paint on cotton canvas. I am just starting out and want to paint on unstretchered canvas, but how do I prepare it. Gesso, I've been told is not strong enough to last using it all by itself. I have hide glue and have been told to use glycerin with it to make it more flexible. Then paint the Gesso on it. Would this make a better canvas surface to paint on. I had painted 10 coats of Gesso on canvas which didn't let any oil permeate the fibers of the cotton canvas and was nice to paint on.

Last edited by Matthew S-M : 10-12-2017 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:06 PM
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Ron Francis Ron Francis is offline
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Re: what to paint on,

I hope you're referring to acrylic gesso rather than traditional gesso!
Traditional gesso should not be painted on anything flexible.

Likewise, don't use hide glue anything flexible.
It's well known to cause cracking because it's hygroscopic, expanding and contracting with changes to atmospheric moisture.
Hide glue doen't change the surface quality of the canvas, and only stops the oil from soaking into the canvas which eventually rots it.
It was used traditionally before painting an oil based ground directly onto canvas.
These days PVA or and acrylic polymer like Golden's GAC is recommended.

If you're using an acrylic gesso, then you don't need to size the canvas with anything. Just make sure the gesso is good quality, and use at least 3 coats as that's enough to stop any oil strike-though.

It is best long term to glue your canvas to a rigid support.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:36 AM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: what to paint on,

I agree with Ron. Use pva, not rabbit skin. Rabbit skin is too flexible and will only help with cracking later. The best support is rigid - wood, as it expands/contracts the least. The next is canvas on stretchers with keys in place. 10 layers of gesso is excessive, you only need 3-4 max. 10 layers is just a whole bunch more oil you will need to add to your paint because of all the sink-in you will have. Make sure gesso is totally dry before painting, or sink-in will be worse; unfortunately I know from personal experience. Also I have noticed that different gessoes behave very very differently in regards to sink-in. Goldens acrylic gesso is excessively absorbent, causing much sink-in. I have a talens gesso which is thankfully not so absorbent. And I've used oil primer, which is even better.
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