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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Oil paintings and crackingApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-04-29 02:59:41 ... Most recent comment 2017-05-02 07:21:30
    Art Conservation Topics Oil Paint Scientific Analysis Technical Art History

    ​Will all oil paintings eventually crack, even if painted on a rigid surface with a good oil binder in the correct ratio and avoiding pigments like Zinc?

    Do these good practices only extend the time it takes before cracking occurs?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​No, not all paintings will crack....all of the criteria you have listed is precisely what we advise so artists can try to avoid cracking from occuring. It is admittedly a hard thing to avoid but by following certain steps one can significantly diminish the chances of crack formation...however a couple things you did not list is a) complex stratigrapy and b) layer thickness. The more complicated the layering, the higher the probability to cracking will occur. Paintings that have thick layers continuous applied across the entire surface are also more likely to crack rather than paintings that contain isolated areas of impasto. This is not to say that artists should not paint thickly, it is simply an observable characteristic of thickly painted works.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2017-04-29 06:26:04
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you Kristen that's good to know. I've heard other artists say all oil paints will crack eventually, so wanted to check.. :)

    2017-04-29 14:05:00
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Hope it's OK to post a question that pertains to this thread? Does the use of rabbit skin glue on a panel predispose the paint to crack? Or is the rigidity of the panel (assuming one had stabilised the panel through bracing etc) enough to largely prevent this from happening? I have a few old paintings in which RSG was used to glue the linen to the panel and to seal the panel. PS I already know all the downsides of RSG (I've been reading about them for many many years) but I am curious about it's particular behaviour in this situation. 

    2017-05-01 02:52:38
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​No...the use of RSG does not necessarily mean that a painting WILL crack. This is further mitigated when a canvas painting is adhered to a rigid support. When dealing with RSG the main culprit responsible for cracking is changes in the relative humidity and temperature. If you use RSG, either as a size or to adhere your canvas to a panel, and keep your artwork in a stable environment then there it is far less likely that cracking will occur. But adhesives such as acrylic and neutral-pH PVA adhesives will not respond to changes in the environment (well nowhere near as readily) which is why we advise using these materials as sizes. BEVA 371 also works well as an adhesive for adhering canvas to panels.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2017-05-01 11:56:22
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks Kristin. This is good to know! Jenny

    2017-05-02 07:21:30

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