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A well know painter recently stated he uses Gamblin PVA size to seal his drawing on acid free 270 gsm smooth paper. When dry, he adheres the paper to a sealed rigid substrate. Then he paints directly over his drawing with oil paint. Is there any known problem with this method and does PVA seal the paper from the oils? Can oil paint adhere well to the PVA? Would it be better to seal the drawing with casein based fixative instead of PVA?
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PVA is often recommended as a size for canvas substrates
which are composed of cellulose just like paper. I personally prefer acrylic mediums
over PVA as a size for oil paintings but PVA is a perfectly suitable material
for this purpose.
I generally recommend the application of a ground rather
than just painting on the sized substrate. My reasoning for this is that it
masks and yellowing of the fabric. The yellowing can through a work out of balance.
Many artists did this anyway and if that is the aesthetic you are interested
in, the technique is sound in principle, One would just need to make sure that
there is enough size to prevent the absorption of oil from the oil paint.
I would like some clarification on using PVA as sealer for a drawing on paper followed by oil paint on top of the PVA. The enticement of mounting a preparatory drawing on heavy archival paper is the ease of preparation compared to gesso if one wishes to have a very smooth surface and use the detailed drawing. So oil paint will adhere to the PVA? If one puts drops of linseed oil on the dried PVA over the paper and there is no migration of the oil to the backside of the paper, Is that considered safe from oil penetration? Also, wondering if a painting done with casein paint on heavy archival paper, can be covered with PVA after the casein has cured? When the casein painting on paper with the PVA size on top is mounted to a rigid substrate, is that a sound practice also? Or, with casein paint and a casein fixative on top of the casein be enough of a sealer for the paper befor applying oil paint?
I would not recommend layering PVA or acrylic over casein as an isolation coat for work in oils. The water from the sizing will likely swell the paint beneath and at best the result will be a crazed glue layer.
I do believe that oil over a PVA sealed drawing is probably
fine, especially if adhered to a rigid support. This would not be my idea of “best
practice” but it would be fine (as long as the paper was sized to the proper
degree, neither too little causing over absorption, nor too much compromising
adhesion of the oil layers). I would want the paper adhered to the panel before
application of the PVA to ensure planarity. If one wanted to apply the PVA before
adhering to a rigid substrate, I would stretch the paper before drawing and
A drop of oil may be a good indicator, but I would suggest
that oil paint thinned with solvent would be a better choice.
I agree that PVA would be a poor choice to isolate casein. Also,
casein is very brittle in thick layers, I would suggest adhering the paper to a
panel before and thickly applied casein paint. I know that is was historically
used on paper but thick applications of casein and gouache on lighter weight
papers can easily crack and this could be an issue when attempting to adhere a
previously painted casein on paper after the fact.