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Old 02-24-2004, 10:10 PM
Pat Hammond Pat Hammond is offline
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Question Gesso coating or paint primer?

Gesso is what I use to undercoat a painting, oil or acrylic. But
has anyone had experience with plain old house paint undercoat or primer?
Would like to know. Please email me, as I have difficulty in finding these
threads sometimes. Thanks.
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Old 02-24-2004, 10:40 PM
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Marc Hanson Marc Hanson is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Pat,
Painters have used it, but don't if you want to feel that you are working in a professional manner. Materials used to manufacture it are not necessarily to the same standards as 'art supplies'. We have REAL working conservators on this site, hopefully they'll respond with their knowledge on this. In the 50's and 60's many 'modern' artists, who are now household names, used these kinds of materials as a cost saving measure. I have read that our major museums now consider their works to be some of the most difficult work to deal with because of the poor selection af materials.
Marc H
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Hammond
Gesso is what I use to undercoat a painting, oil or acrylic. But
has anyone had experience with plain old house paint undercoat or primer?
Would like to know. Please email me, as I have difficulty in finding these
threads sometimes. Thanks.
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Old 02-25-2004, 09:01 AM
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JamieWG JamieWG is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Pat,

Welcome to Wetcanvas! House paint primer does not have the necessary tooth for the adhesion of oils. You can do a search (see the Search option on the bar above, then click "Advanced Search" if you need to) and will come up with lots of information about this from threads on the site.

You will probably get more of a response to this question in the Oils forum than here in Color Theory. Here is a link to Oils:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=10

Jamie
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Old 03-02-2004, 02:27 PM
Krysia Krysia is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

To Pat...

i have been using the cheapest of mat household white paint instead of gesso.... gesso, i think.... is simply white glue and pigment mixed in water... is there someone who knows the formula>>>>??? anyway after trying and using many different whites in household paint,,,i finally asked the guy in the local paint store what really was the difference between the high priced whites and the cheapest of whites... he rather sheepishly acknowledged that the cheapest whites contained really nothing but white glue and pigment with water.... just what i was looking for.... so now, that is all i use.... i am not sure that my paintings will hang in the smithsonian in a hundred years.... but hey.... i will not be here anyway and neither will any of you ....so what is the problem.... i paint for the now and for the enjoyment of those now living.... including me.... and if i can paint more paintings because i can afford it.... so much the better....gesso is ssssooooo expensive....

krysia
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Old 03-03-2004, 01:04 PM
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Michael24 Michael24 is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Pat...

i have been using the cheapest of mat household white paint instead of gesso.... gesso, i think.... is simply white glue and pigment mixed in water... is there someone who knows the formula>>>>??? anyway after trying and using many different whites in household paint,,,i finally asked the guy in the local paint store what really was the difference between the high priced whites and the cheapest of whites... he rather sheepishly acknowledged that the cheapest whites contained really nothing but white glue and pigment with water.... just what i was looking for.... so now, that is all i use.... i am not sure that my paintings will hang in the smithsonian in a hundred years.... but hey.... i will not be here anyway and neither will any of you ....so what is the problem.... i paint for the now and for the enjoyment of those now living.... including me.... and if i can paint more paintings because i can afford it.... so much the better....gesso is ssssooooo expensive....

krysia

I guess that I am answering this so as to not have others go down the same path. I agree with you that, if painting is just for your own enjoyment, who cares how long it lasts. However, if one is serious about having their art work last, I propose this idea. You put just as much effort into painting a good painting with cheap materials as you would with good materials. Who knows? Maybe that cheaply done painting will be a great visual success and someone, some day will want to keep it from falling apart.

To address the technical parts of your question: Gesso, real Gesso, is rabbit skin glue dissolved in warmwater with burnt gypsum (Plaster of Paris). Modern gessos also contain a white pigment.

I think the kind of *gesso* you refer to is an acrylic dispersion of acrylic medium along with white pigment and marble dust or chalk or plaster to provide mechanical tooth and absorption.

House paint primers are not of the same nature. You are right they are rather inexpensive and being that, will tend not to age well. They are also not like acrylic paints and the question of compatibility between house paint and acrylic paint has been raised.

Better you find and use an inexpensive art store derived gesso than a commercial primer. The person in the paint store you spoke to may have been describing a PVA primer. That is white glue and white pigment. It is not condoned for use as an underlayer for acrylic or oil paints.

Good luck in your search for a gesso.

Michael Skalka, Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
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Old 03-09-2004, 05:53 PM
Krysia Krysia is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

To Michael 24
Thank you very much for your thoughtful response.

I think we come from different perspectives regarding the meaning and value of art. I would hope that many, many people go down my path with regards to using painting materials they can most afford - and for most artists, I would guess that those are the most inexpensive available to do the job. Those whom I have taught, worked with, encouraged were very, very happy - most unable to afford paints at 10.00cdn per tube and gesso at 14.00cdn plus taxes per 20 oz jar - to feel the freedom of experimenting, creating with only their spirits, minds and hearts as constraints. I have been there staring at a canvas, purchased for 100.00 or so with paints worth well over another 100.00 - no money for more supplies and wondering whether this would be the last painting for a long time... No money... No more - Some of my paintings now hang in our forest - outside in the elements --- five years later through snow, wind, rain, frost, heat, the occasional moose encounter.. these paintings are as vibrant as ever.... Modern technology = longer lasting paints. None of my patrons subject my work to these extremes....however

Because of the affordability of my work, the base of my patronage has not only been the economically elite - some pieces hang in corporate collections... I find that people look at my work, are enthralled and when they hear the prices, they are further surprised and end up purchasing the work. I am able to offer original pieces of art - not giclees, xeroxed prints, printer generated copies of originals at very, very reasonable prices - and stretched as well - ready to hang... Everyone wins, I get paid, I can make more art, and the general public now can afford original pieces hanging in their homes - instead of those mass produced xerox-style giclee prints.

Do you have any Pollocks hanging in your gallery? Some 50 years later, I am sure that if kept in normal indoor conditions, they have not lost their value... Appreciated probably... He used those wonderful paints that were just coming out ..experimenting... with nothing to lose except the cost of inexpensive supplies...and so much to gain...more and more paintings - the exhiliration, the freedom...he must have felt as the paint came out of the gallon containers... what he might have done if the colours available today had been available to him then...

From a technical point - re gesso - would a high quality acrylic emulsion be preferable to a PVA emulsion ....Furthermore, the best quality acrylic house paints now hold more pigment, are flexible in hot and cold temperatures (no cracking) ultraviolet resistant. Yes, I am convinced now... and thank you for that advice.

Iwas advised by someone from the largest art supply store in the city that rabbit skin glue based gessos are no longer considered as archivally sound as the modern acrylic gessos - rhoplex being one of them.. A chemical replacement for rabbit skin glue is now being used as well for those who wish to paint in oils. The PVA will yellow somewhat in time.. I have contacted Rohm & Hass the manufacturers of the base resin in gesso and await their response to this question.

In the very grand scheme of things, the percentage of artists who find their works at the National Gallery of Art is absolutely minuscule. Most people buy art for personal reasons rather than as an investment. Will a particular painting inspire those two, three generations hence...Who knows... the most important is that it inspires those who own the painting at the present time...

It is alright for the establishment to stand on its principles in a nostalgic manner when it can afford to do so. However, it should also be aware and learn that modern technology has already produced materials that outperform some of the ancient ones. As an aside, are rabbits killed only for their skin - which is then boiled for artists to use. And how many rabbits does it take to make a 20 oz jar of gesso? Those are really important questions. Never will I buy (can't afford anyway) that gesso. All the more reason to embrace new technologies.

Better paint a thousand pictures than struggle financially over 10. When the National Gallery of Art, Washington comes knocking at my door, I will fall over in excitement, but I will not change my painting style... And I will not regret turning many people onto painting in an unconstrained manner... And I do hope that more artists do question the established establishment with regards to art and its production and materials. I do hope that they embrace the present technology - the new technology - the impressionists did it with the new tubes... I do hope that we continue to push the established limits - all the time respecting the past. Save the rabbit......

I remain with all due respect to you,
sincerely, Krysia Bower
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Old 03-10-2004, 05:34 PM
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Michael24 Michael24 is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24

I think we come from different perspectives regarding the meaning and value of art.
Those whom I have taught, worked with, encouraged were very, very happy - most unable to afford paints at 10.00cdn per tube and gesso at 14.00cdn plus taxes per 20 oz jar - to feel the freedom of experimenting, creating with only their spirits, minds and hearts as constraints. I have been there staring at a canvas, purchased for 100.00 or so with paints worth well over another 100.00 - no money for more supplies and wondering whether this would be the last painting for a long time... No money...

Krysia: The format of this medium does not allow for a lot of words to come out. I just can't type that long or fast. I don't think that our perspective are that far at all. To me, meaning and value of art is based on how we express ourselves and connect with our audience, how we get our message across and does it convey our intent.

My response regarding the quality and viability of material in no way implies a value or meaning content. The composition of the material is what it is just as the manufacturer makes it. Inexpensive house paint is inexpensive house paint. Neither you or I can make it into something that it is not. My only point on the quality of materials is that artists need to be mindful of what works and what does not. I wish that a lot of art materials would be more reasonable in price. All the wishing in the world will not make Ciba or BASF change the price of cadmium pigments. That said, you and I devise, each in our own way, strategies to offset the high cost of art materials.

I might not want to compromise on the support and priming while I bend a lot regarding the pigment. So I will substitute napthol red for cadmium red. My point is that the two pigments will not work the same and I just have to make that compromise so that I can continue to afford making art.

House paint primers are not the first choice within the conservation community. We have evidence, as well as the Metropolitian Museum in NY, and the Tate Gallery in London, etc., that artists we know who used house paint primers are having issues with their pictures as they age. The priming layer yellows and behaves rather badly over time.

It is just what we observe, not a denunciation of the artist or anyone who uses housepaint. We just pass this along to tell artists that this is what we are seeing with paintings that use these types of materials as they age. If the color, texture and qualities of the priming layer are extremely important to you (especially if you leave large voids where the priming shows through)
and you don't want to have a dingy yellow show over time, then you may want to reconsider upgrading the priming and compromise on some other part of the construction of your art work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Because of the affordability of my work, the base of my patronage has not only been the economically elite - some pieces hang in corporate collections... I find that people look at my work, are enthralled and when they hear the prices, they are further surprised and end up purchasing the work. I am able to offer original pieces of art - not giclees, xeroxed prints, printer generated copies of originals at very, very reasonable prices - and stretched as well - ready to hang... Everyone wins, I get paid, I can make more art, and the general public now can afford original pieces hanging in their homes - instead of those mass produced xerox-style giclee prints.

Absolutely, orgininal art is a precious and wonderful thing and should never be compared to mass produced prints. (As an aside) Recently, I was shown some ink jet prints on canvas using a new type of coating. You just can't see the dots of ink at all. It is really frightening that soon, with a bit of acrylic gel lathered on these prints, they will be easily passed off as real oil paintings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Do you have any Pollocks hanging in your gallery? Some 50 years later, I am sure that if kept in normal indoor conditions, they have not lost their value... Appreciated probably... He used those wonderful paints that were just coming out ..experimenting... with nothing to lose except the cost of inexpensive supplies...and so much to gain...more and more paintings - the exhiliration, the freedom...he must have felt as the paint came out of the gallon containers... what he might have done if the colours available today had been available to him then...

Yes we do. The only reason they have not lost value is because we have a group of highly skilled and trained conservators who monitor these works and make periodic inspections and repairs. Are they in great shape? Looking at them one way, yes they are. Lots of care and skill goes into their repair. In another way, they are a slow moving train wreck, deteriorating as we speak, paint flaking, substrates oxidizing and coming apart. Conservation is like making an aged actor or actress look good on stage. With the makeup removed you see all the wrinkles and lines. Not a pretty sight.

I don't disagree for a moment that Pollock energy was derived from the types of materials he used. Nobody here would deny or denounce his methodology. However, since none of us can deny physics, we are left with the deteriorating legacy that takes lots of skill, time and $ to keep in fairly good shape. The paintings are fantastic. It is a treat to see them up close.

By the way, Pollock had a full range of colors at his disposal and in many cases he uses them. Many of his works look so monochromatic because he mutes the values of his hues as well as using black, grey and white predominately.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Iwas advised by someone from the largest art supply store in the city that rabbit skin glue based gessos are no longer considered as archivally sound as the modern acrylic gessos - rhoplex being one of them.. A chemical replacement for rabbit skin glue is now being used as well for those who wish to paint in oils. The PVA will yellow somewhat in time.. I have contacted Rohm & Hass the manufacturers of the base resin in gesso and await their response to this question.

Just to clarify. Traditional gesso - rabbit skin glue and gypsum plus white pigment is for solid supports

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
In the very grand scheme of things, the percentage of artists who find their works at the National Gallery of Art is absolutely minuscule. Most people buy art for personal reasons rather than as an investment. Will a particular painting inspire those two, three generations hence...Who knows... the most important is that it inspires those who own the painting at the present time...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
It is alright for the establishment to stand on its principles in a nostalgic manner when it can afford to do so. However, it should also be aware and learn that modern technology has already produced materials that outperform some of the ancient ones. As an aside, are rabbits killed only for their skin - which is then boiled for artists to use. And how many rabbits does it take to make a 20 oz jar of gesso? Those are really important questions. Never will I buy (can't afford anyway) that gesso. All the more reason to embrace new technologies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Better paint a thousand pictures than struggle financially over 10. When the National Gallery of Art, Washington comes knocking at my door, I will fall over in excitement, but I will not change my painting style... And I will not regret turning many people onto painting in an unconstrained manner... And I do hope that more artists do question the established establishment with regards to art and its production and materials. I do hope that they embrace the present technology - the new technology - the impressionists did it with the new tubes... I do hope that we continue to push the established limits - all the time respecting the past. Save the rabbit......

I remain with all due respect to you,
sincerely, Krysia Bower
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Old 03-10-2004, 06:02 PM
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Michael24 Michael24 is offline
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24

I think we come from different perspectives regarding the meaning and value of art.
Those whom I have taught, worked with, encouraged were very, very happy - most unable to afford paints at 10.00cdn per tube and gesso at 14.00cdn plus taxes per 20 oz jar - to feel the freedom of experimenting, creating with only their spirits, minds and hearts as constraints. I have been there staring at a canvas, purchased for 100.00 or so with paints worth well over another 100.00 - no money for more supplies and wondering whether this would be the last painting for a long time... No money...

Krysia: The format of this medium does not allow for a lot of words to come out. I just can't type that long or fast. I don't think that our perspective are that far at all. To me, meaning and value of art is based on how we express ourselves and connect with our audience, how we get our message across and does it convey our intent.

My response regarding the quality and viability of material in no way implies a value or meaning content. The composition of the material is what it is just as the manufacturer makes it. Inexpensive house paint is inexpensive house paint. Neither you or I can make it into something that it is not. My only point on the quality of materials is that artists need to be mindful of what works and what does not. I wish that a lot of art materials would be more reasonable in price. All the wishing in the world will not make Ciba or BASF change the price of cadmium pigments. That said, you and I devise, each in our own way, strategies to offset the high cost of art materials.

I might not want to compromise on the support and priming while I bend a lot regarding the pigment. So I will substitute napthol red for cadmium red. My point is that the two pigments will not work the same and I just have to make that compromise so that I can continue to afford making art.

House paint primers are not the first choice within the conservation community. We have evidence, as well as the Metropolitian Museum in NY, and the Tate Gallery in London, etc., that artists we know who used house paint primers are having issues with their pictures as they age. The priming layer yellows and behaves rather badly over time.

It is just what we observe, not a denunciation of the artist or anyone who uses housepaint. We just pass this along to tell artists that this is what we are seeing with paintings that use these types of materials as they age. If the color, texture and qualities of the priming layer are extremely important to you (especially if you leave large voids where the priming shows through)
and you don't want to have a dingy yellow show over time, then you may want to reconsider upgrading the priming and compromise on some other part of the construction of your art work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Because of the affordability of my work, the base of my patronage has not only been the economically elite - some pieces hang in corporate collections... I find that people look at my work, are enthralled and when they hear the prices, they are further surprised and end up purchasing the work. I am able to offer original pieces of art - not giclees, xeroxed prints, printer generated copies of originals at very, very reasonable prices - and stretched as well - ready to hang... Everyone wins, I get paid, I can make more art, and the general public now can afford original pieces hanging in their homes - instead of those mass produced xerox-style giclee prints.

Absolutely, orgininal art is a precious and wonderful thing and should never be compared to mass produced prints. (As an aside) Recently, I was shown some ink jet prints on canvas using a new type of coating. You just can't see the dots of ink at all. It is really frightening that soon, with a bit of acrylic gel lathered on these prints, they will be easily passed off as real oil paintings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Do you have any Pollocks hanging in your gallery? Some 50 years later, I am sure that if kept in normal indoor conditions, they have not lost their value... Appreciated probably... He used those wonderful paints that were just coming out ..experimenting... with nothing to lose except the cost of inexpensive supplies...and so much to gain...more and more paintings - the exhiliration, the freedom...he must have felt as the paint came out of the gallon containers... what he might have done if the colours available today had been available to him then...

Yes we do. The only reason they have not lost value is because we have a group of highly skilled and trained conservators who monitor these works and make periodic inspections and repairs. Are they in great shape? Looking at them one way, yes they are. Lots of care and skill goes into their repair. In another way, they are a slow moving train wreck, deteriorating as we speak, paint flaking, substrates oxidizing and coming apart. Conservation is like making an aged actor or actress look good on stage. With the makeup removed you see all the wrinkles and lines. Not a pretty sight.

I don't disagree for a moment that Pollock energy was derived from the types of materials he used. Nobody here would deny or denounce his methodology. However, since none of us can deny physics, we are left with the deteriorating legacy that takes lots of skill, time and $ to keep in fairly good shape. The paintings are fantastic. It is a treat to see them up close.

By the way, Pollock had a full range of colors at his disposal and in many cases he uses them. Many of his works look so monochromatic because he mutes the values of his hues as well as using black, grey and white predominately.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Iwas advised by someone from the largest art supply store in the city that rabbit skin glue based gessos are no longer considered as archivally sound as the modern acrylic gessos - rhoplex being one of them.. A chemical replacement for rabbit skin glue is now being used as well for those who wish to paint in oils. The PVA will yellow somewhat in time.. I have contacted Rohm & Hass the manufacturers of the base resin in gesso and await their response to this question.

Just to clarify. Traditional gesso - rabbit skin glue and gypsum plus white pigment is for SOLID supports ONLY. Its too brittle to use on canvas. Gesso has never been considered archivally sound, it was just the only game in town when paintings were executed on wooden panels. Oil grounds with rabbit skin sizing on the canvas to block the oxidation of the oil penetrating the ground, became the norm when painters moved to canvas supports.

Rhoplex is the R&H trade name for one of many acrylic products they produce. I agree that PVA will embrittle and yellow over time. Examples, find a blob of old Elmers glue on something. It displays the characteristics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
In the very grand scheme of things, the percentage of artists who find their works at the National Gallery of Art is absolutely minuscule. Most people buy art for personal reasons rather than as an investment. Will a particular painting inspire those two, three generations hence...Who knows... the most important is that it inspires those who own the painting at the present time...

Yes, the percentage is low. For the most part it helps if you are dead. Our dead to live artist ratio is rather high.
Again, my point, if you possible can, buy material and use sound strategies that will help to make your paintings last, especially if you want to inspire the next two or three generations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
It is alright for the establishment to stand on its principles in a nostalgic manner when it can afford to do so. However, it should also be aware and learn that modern technology has already produced materials that outperform some of the ancient ones. As an aside, are rabbits killed only for their skin - which is then boiled for artists to use. And how many rabbits does it take to make a 20 oz jar of gesso? Those are really important questions. Never will I buy (can't afford anyway) that gesso. All the more reason to embrace new technologies.

Gosh no!! Rabbit skin glue is more just a name than the actual thing. Traditionally it was from rabbits, but now it just another byproduct of the cattle industry. As they say, they use everything but the MOO! Rabbit skin glue is animal glue, most likely cattle, and fairly crude material. (Some countries still have a line of rabbit skin glue) The more refined glues make their way to becoming products like Jello or Knox gelatin.

On the other hand, before we embrace new technologies, how many oil wells, how much pollution is made, how many soliders have died, etc, to make the millions of pounds of acrylic resin that are derived from petrochemicals. Everything has its price, even a jar of acrylic dispersion gesso.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krysia
To Michael 24
Better paint a thousand pictures than struggle financially over 10. When the National Gallery of Art, Washington comes knocking at my door, I will fall over in excitement, but I will not change my painting style... And I will not regret turning many people onto painting in an unconstrained manner... And I do hope that more artists do question the established establishment with regards to art and its production and materials. I do hope that they embrace the present technology - the new technology - the impressionists did it with the new tubes... I do hope that we continue to push the established limits - all the time respecting the past. Save the rabbit......

I remain with all due respect to you,
sincerely, Krysia Bower

Thank you for your comments. I too am respectful of your outstanding opinion. Keep painting and pushing that envelope. Just remember that everything has its price, including an unconstrained manner. We should question technology and the materials we consume. Me and some of my colleagues have access to the heads of art materials companies and advocacy groups like ASTM. We work hard to protect artists safety, raise the education level on sound practices, encourage manufacturers to produce quality materials, and see to it that artists are given information that helps them to make choices.

Michael Skalka
Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
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Old 03-10-2004, 09:42 PM
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Einion Einion is offline
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Nicely answered Michael.

A question about PVAc glues if you have a moment. My research over the past few years indicated that it was considered archival by the conservation community generally. I've never actually seen a dried sample of it that has gone yellow over the many years I've used it, so I was dubious about this when I first read of it on WC! about a year ago, but obviously it can happen. Used as a glue or size it is completely or largely protected from ultraviolet light, a major contributor to the ageing of many synthetic polymers, so I would imagine it would certainly help its performance over the long term but am I being optimistic?

So, ignoring its use as a size for stretched canvas where I don't use it anyway, what would be the best choice for an alternative reversible adhesive? It's what I use and have recommended to bond fabrics such as cotton duck to a rigid support (untempered hardboard in my case) but is there a better alternative?

By the way, do you have any Rothkos there? I saw one in person for the first time a couple of years back in Ohio and it looked gaunt as I'd expected from reading about them - you could almost imagine the pigment particles falling off as you looked at it. I certainly wouldn't want to risk someone brushing against the surface so a rope barrier would be a very good idea I'm sure!

Thanks in advance,
Einion
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Old 03-11-2004, 10:01 AM
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion

A question about PVAc glues if you have a moment. My research over the past few years indicated that it was considered archival by the conservation community generally. I've never actually seen a dried sample of it that has gone yellow over the many years I've used it, so I was dubious about this when I first read of it on WC! about a year ago, but obviously it can happen. Used as a glue or size it is completely or largely protected from ultraviolet light, a major contributor to the ageing of many synthetic polymers, so I would imagine it would certainly help its performance over the long term but am I being optimistic?


Yes, PVA can be archival but you have to get the right ones. The PVA that is commonly used by bookbinders, Jade 403 remains flexible and will not become brittle. Hardware store PVA glues are not of the same nature. You can get those glues to deteriorate in a matter of a year or two. However, as you said when used as a layer between canvas and support you don't get any UV to penetrate so that kind of aging is not an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion
So, ignoring its use as a size for stretched canvas where I don't use it anyway, what would be the best choice for an alternative reversible adhesive? It's what I use and have recommended to bond fabrics such as cotton duck to a rigid support (untempered hardboard in my case) but is there a better alternative?


PVA is still a great size for stretched canvas fabric. Just use Jade or some of the ones that art material maufacturers market for use as a size. Reversible adhesive: Now you want a much higher level of performance. Some of the high-end canvas on rigid substrate manufacturers are using a conservation product called BEVA. Tallas in NY sells it as a liquid and as a film (heat activated) You need heat to activate it and to release it from your surface. It is expensive! If you are selling multi-thousand $ pictures, it might be expected. For most its just too costly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion
By the way, do you have any Rothkos there? I saw one in person for the first time a couple of years back in Ohio and it looked gaunt as I'd expected from reading about them - you could almost imagine the pigment particles falling off as you looked at it. I certainly wouldn't want to risk someone brushing against the surface so a rope barrier would be a very good idea I'm sure!

Thanks in advance,
Einion

The Gallery was the recipient of a large number of Rothko's in accord with his foundations bequest. We circulate them around the country in a number of lending shows. We have many of his early semi-representational works. You would not think they were by Rothko. Same for Pollock. His early works were semi-abstract and not like the famous drip paintings.

Rothko liked to manipulate paint to an extreme. I assume by gaunt you mean extremely lean and underbound. Yes, that is the case. He would leach the oil out of paints, wash it out with solvents and have nearly dry totally unbound pigments. He used glue, casein and lean oils, all in combination and in layers, to create the works we have today. As I stated in the previous post. No one objects to his right to exercise his artistic vision. However, it comes with a price. The surfaces are extremely fragile and need lots of care.

Bottom Line: If your work is in a museum and and your name is Rothko or Pollock, Johns, Gorky, etc., the resources will be made available to preserve your work. Unfortunately, not all artists will get to be represented in a museum. Even though their work is excellent, they somehow just don't make it into the museum world. If these artists don't use sound methods, few in the private sector will have the resources to save their artistic endeavors. Even families will have a difficult time justifying the funds needed to save a great-grandmother art work that has been passed down from generation to generation. All paintings have some form of inherent vice and over time will need repair. The strategy for artists is to avoid the simple pitfalls that can cause medium to long-term disaster. The trick is can an artist figure out a way to make it long lasting and still stay within his or her intent.

For example, if an artist wanted to have a sculpture that contained a bowl of fresh fruit on a table as their artwork, the table will be fine, the bowl will last without a problem, but as you suspect, the fruit will be an issue. If the piece is NOT about natural decay but about the vibrance and freshness of nature's bounty, the artist needs to figure out what to use that looks like fresh fruit (to fool the eye) so that the piece will live on and convey the artists intent. Othewise, the artist needs to make friends with a produce manager at the supermarket and be prepared to shell out a lot of money exchanging the fruit every week or so.

Good luck with the adhesives. Let me know if you need more info.

Michael Skalka, Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Wash. DC
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Old 03-15-2004, 04:45 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to answer so comprehensively Michael. I'm glad to hear it's a case of all PVA's not being created equal and not a general problem with them as a class.

I'm familiar with Beva 371 and similar adhesives like Plextol D489 from my conservation reading but PVA is adequate to the task for my work

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael24
I assume by gaunt you mean extremely lean and underbound.
Yep. I didn't realise Rothko went to such pains to make the paint that underbound! From what you describe I can't help but think he could have just used dry pigment and oversprayed with something like a solution of gum arabic (or just have bought watercolour of course) and had results that were more stable, ah well. I presume he had at least an inkling that his methods were unsound and just didn't care.

Thanks again,
Einion
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Old 03-15-2004, 05:35 PM
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

I am sure that he tried that approach but it did not get the desired results. He experimented extensively just to get the right look.

Watercolor would have been great but it is hard to get it to stick to oil paint!!

I hope that Krysia return to read my reply to her concerns. I put a lot of thought into that answer.

So many artists want desparately to hope that inexpensive materials are compatible with artists materials or that they will perform well over time. Sometimes we get lucky. Other times, we know its fate is known, and it is not pretty!!

Michael Skalka, Conservation National Gallery of Art, Wash. DC
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Old 03-15-2004, 05:40 PM
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion
Thank you for taking the time to answer so comprehensively Michael. I'm glad to hear it's a case of all PVA's not being created equal and not a general problem with them as a class.

I'm familiar with Beva 371 and similar adhesives like Plextol D489 from my conservation reading but PVA is adequate to the task for my work

Thanks again,
Einion

Are you just using adhesives to adhere canvas to a support or are your concerned about using them as a sizing medium?

Michael Skalka, Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Wash, DC
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Old 03-15-2004, 05:45 PM
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael24
I hope that Krysia return to read my reply to her concerns. I put a lot of thought into that answer.

Michael Skalka, Conservation National Gallery of Art, Wash. DC

Michael, I hope she sees it too, but even if she does/did not, many of us benefit from these conversations, even if we don't all post to say so!

And speaking of archival properties....
If I use floor polyurethane on a plywood panel, will acrylic ground/gesso adhere to that oil-based polyurethane? If I plan to use the acrylic ground, am I better off with water-based poly? Most likely I'd adhere canvas with PVA...will that hold to the oil poly?

Often I paint on unstretched, primed canvas. Since the paint is not directly on the board, can I then adhere the canvas to MDF or hardboard if I seal it first with the oil-based polyurethane, without worrying about SID?

Jamie
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Old 03-15-2004, 06:17 PM
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Re: Gesso coating or paint primer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion
Thank you for taking the time to answer so comprehensively Michael. I'm glad to hear it's a case of all PVA's not being created equal and not a general problem with them as a class.

I'm familiar with Beva 371 and similar adhesives like Plextol D489 from my conservation reading but PVA is adequate to the task for my work

Thanks again,
Einion

Are you just using adhesives to adhere canvas to a support or are your concerned about using them as a sizing medium?

Michael Skalka, Conservation, National Gallery of Art, Wash, DC

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