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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Sound and Toxin Free Oil PaintingApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-11-25 09:24:23 ... Most recent comment 2018-11-26 12:39:49
    Oil Paint Alkyd Grounds / Priming Health and Safety Rigid Supports Sizes and Adhesives Art Conservation Topics


    I am re-reading my post of February 19, 2018,, and all the responses below it. As you know, I am hoping to work without toxins throughout my processes. I am seeking to know: can I create a stable painting without them? After laying out my specific questions for you to consider, I will describe my proposed modified approach, based on the answers you have given thus far.

    Specific Questions:

    Although lead white would add strength to the canvas, will the combination of my various processes create a more than adequate archival stability for my paintings over the centuries?


    Can the rigid support (cradled panel) and the alkyd nature of my titanium white compensate for lead white usage in the ground and throughout my painting?

    Can a traditional wet imprimatura compensate for the greater absorption of Golden Acrylic Gesso Ground? (I hope so - it seems to do a perfect job of it – performing for the artist during the process just as well as chalk gesso does – with perfect absorption level for the richer glaze layer and excellent surface flow for the subsequent lean paint).

    Proposed Process:

    1.  Size a 16 oz. tightly woven raw canvas one side on the topside while fabric is flat on table. I prefer Gamblin PVA, for reasons already stated in a previous reply.  Snap the fabric when wet to work out any wrinkles. Let dry a day.
    2. Evenly stretch canvas over a birch cradled panel, with the weft direction being vertical for maximum long-term support. Use non-rusting strong thumbtacks for easy potential conservation adjustments if ever required.
    3. Rewet the stretched canvas after stretching with PVA if there are still any wrinkles to facilitate the pullout of the fabric. Let sit a day.
    4. Hand rub and sand five coats of Golden Acrylic Gesso Ground, slightly diluted for smooth application.
    5. Allow to cure over several days.
    6. With Gamblin Solvent Free Fluid, dilute Gamblin FastMatte Alkyd Safflower Oil Foundation paint (mostly Burnt Sienna) no more than 25%. Rub on a high paint spread imprimatura-priming glaze with a cloth.
    7. Into the wet glaze, drop an undiluted foundational layer (grisaille) using Gamblin FastMatte Titanium White and Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue (mixed to the same colour as Burnt Umber). Let dry several days.
    8. With virtually undiluted Gamblin FastMatte paints, add another foundational layer (Velatura). Let dry several days.
    9. Add several layers, several days apart, each starting with a glaze or scumble of the same paints diluted with no more than 25% Gamblin Solvent Free Fluid, with high paint spread. Then modify the glaze with additions of slightly diluted paint, or in white areas, undiluted paint.      


    Gamblin FastMatte Alkyd Safflower Oil Paints:

    • Titanium White
    • Burnt Sienna (in foundations)
    • Quinacridone Red
    • Hansa Yellow (in foundations)
    • Ultramarine Blue
    • Phthalo Blue
    • Red Transparent Earth (in glazing applications) 

    Rembrandt Oil Paints

    • Transparent Yellow (in glazing applications)

    I am looking forward to your answers. Thanks so much for all you do and for your clarifications here.

    Kathy Marlene Bailey

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Your question includes many specific products that I think that it is best to forward it to representatives from the companies that you reference. Hopefully, they will respond in the next few days.

    Brian Baade
    2018-11-25 15:18:53
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Dear Kathy –

    The steps in creating a painting structure that you described below are quite sound. Please do note, however, that Gamblin Solvent-Free Fluid is quite “fat” in nature. Using it to modify the FastMatte colors in the underpainting stage of the painting should be done with moderation (even below the 25% by volume threshold that we recommend). Another good option would be add a small amount of Gamsol to the Solvent-Free Fluid to make it leaner for underpainting. A 50/50 mixture would do the trick. You can move on to straight Solvent-Free Fluid in the subsequent (fatter) stages of the painting.

    Also, just to clarify, our FastMatte Colors are bound in refined linseed oil and alkyd resin, rather than safflower oil.

    Kind regards,

    Scott Gellatly

    Product Manager

    Gamblin Artists Colors

    2018-11-26 12:39:49
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    I am very glad to hear that this is quite sound. To respond to what Scott has said, when I apply my imprimatura over the Golden Acrylic Gesso Ground, I do so with a glaze that is fairly well pigmented (certainly no more than 25% Solvent Free Fluid) and I apply it with a cloth, pulling the glaze as far as it will go. There is barely any paint or medium on there – just enough to make the upcoming very lean paint flow a little less dryly. I scrub it on too, pushing and pulling it as far as it will go. The paint surface ends up being entirely matte. Is this lean enough if I paint this way,  or do I need to dilute the Solvent Free Fluid still with the Gamsol?


    Also, I read in MITRA's Resources Link, under Adhesives and Sizing, that PVA in general is very slightly susceptible to strikethrough.  How does Gamblin's PVA perform in this regard if I coat my canvas with it twice, as stated – once before stretching, and once after - and then hand rub the sized canvas thinly with 1:3 water diluted Golden Acrylic Gesso five times?  Could I still get strikethrough?


    Thanks! I am very intent of getting a system that works.

    Kathy Marlene Bailey

    2018-12-04 10:54:18

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