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I have been doing small studies from life on Arches Oil Paper that have had 3 coats of acrylic gesso applied. I realize the oil paper does not need the acrylic ground applied, but I prefer the surface prepared in this way.
I would like to mount or otherwise prepare a 6"x8" oil study as a gift to a family member. What would be the best method? I don't expect the painting to last for centuries, but hope to get at least a few good years of enjoyment out of the painting. I work in sizes up to about 9"x12" on Arches Oil paper with the acrylic ground, so if you can address any issues going up to this size as well, just in case any future studies might be given as a gift, that would be appreciated. For my more serious work that I hope lasts a long time, I paint on tempered hardboard prepared with acrylic ground, but cost and storage space prevent me from always working on hardboard, especially when most of the studies are for my personal learning experience.
The other option would be for me to paint studies on hardboard and repaint over unsuccessful paintings. Would this be a sound practice assuming the paintings have not been varnished? Any advice on this practice?
Thank you to all who contribute their time to this forum, it is very much appreciated.
Thanks in advance. Barbara
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A couple of questions and a comment or two.
How textured is the impasto on the sketches. If the paint is
quite thin, you have more options and the mounting would be easier. Additionally,
do you paint with zinc white containing oil paint. This may have an impact on
the answer as well.
Do you intend on having these mounted on a rigid surface. If
you paint thinly and avoid zinc white, this seems like overkill for a work of
this size unless the mounting is to be part of the intended presentation.
So, if the works are as small as you say, relatively thinly painted
(no extreme impasto or a complete thick layer, I would think that these could
be hinged, matted and framed like a traditional work on paper. The problem here
is that this subject is out of my areas of expertise. If you respond affirmative
to this, I will forward this exchange to one of the paper conservators and/or
framing/conservation display experts among the moderators.
Finally, while no one can stop you from painting over
discarded sketches, works painted over earlier compositions are much more likely
to develop delamination issues over time. Now you may think that none of these sketches is
likely to be one of your masterpieces, but you never know until it is finished.
I would vastly prefer that you paint your small sketches on the prepared oil-paper
as you describe, rather than reusing the same substrate over and over again.
It sounds as though acrylic-primed hardboard is your first choice. I can understand the storage issue with finished art, but hardboard isn't that expensive. Personally, if that were my preferred support, I would just use that.
Thank you Brian and Matt for the responses.
I paint Alla Prima, and these small paintings are painted at life sessions or at home from a still life setup, most of them are completed in 30 to 90 minutes. I wouldn’t call the paint layer in these paintings “thin” but certainly not impasto. I only use a touch of Gamsol at the beginning for a burnt umber sketch (not for massing in like some artists though) and sometimes I add just a touch of walnut oil if the paint from the tube is too thick.
I’ve been painting with oils for about a year and only recently found out about the issue with Zinc, and am phasing out zinc containing white. What I have been doing recently is mixing my remaining M. Graham titanium white (5% zinc in walnut oil) with Williamsburg Titanium white (no zinc in linseed oil) at a ratio of 1:1. The painting I want to give as a gift (a 60 minute gestural portrait done from life) does contain zinc (M. Graham titanium white, 5% zinc). After using up the zinc containing titanium white, I am thinking about mixing titanium white with lithopone white to see how it handles. I keep reading about sponginess and weeping of pure titanium white. I haven’t worked with the Williamsburg titanium white on it’s own yet though and don’t have an opinion. I’m not sure if mixing lithopone white into titanium white would provide any benefit?
I hadn’t thought of framing the oil sketch for some reason. I was thinking of mounting on hardboard and putting it in a plein air frame would be best, but framing with a mat is probably the easiest solution.
Matt- I use the gessoed oil paper because at a single life painting session, I create anywhere from 3-5 pieces, and since I still am not yet a confident oil painter, maybe one painting per session might be worth keeping. Many of my still life paintings have been exercises using a monochromatic palette and all of them have been meant as studies only. It seems easier for me to throw out studies on oil paper than hardboard, even though gessoed hardboard is my preferred surface. The problem arises in that occasionally a gestural portrait or still-life study turns out really nice! I am transitioning to oils from pastel- pastel and watercolor paintings sure take a lot less space to store than oil paintings on hardboard!
Thanks again for your time on this forum- I have learned a lot from MITRA.