When Painting In Oils, What Preparation Is Needed For Supports?

By: AKW | Posted: 22nd June 2011

The support you use for painting in oils on can be either a timber product, a board product (like MDF), plywood or canvass. These all have their individual advantages and disadvantages.

Priming Supports
But supports for oil paintings in general need to be primed and those bought from retailers will already have been primed by having been coated with paint known as a ground, which acts as a sealant. If a support is not primed, the oil in the paint will be absorbed by the support and leave the paint rather powdery. In addition, priming also provides a better surface for painting on. Some primers are oil based and in this case the support first needs at least two coats of size. Rabbitskin size should be used.

However, if you are priming your own support (as, for example, when using MDF) it is simpler to use an acrylic primer. Two or three coats are usually needed, but acrylic dries very quickly and it is made to adhere to untreated surfaces. This provides a good foundation for oil painting and it leaves a “tooth”, which some artists like. But if you want a really smooth surface, it can be sanded down. The acrylic can be applied using brush, roller or sponge. The latter two may be more preferable in order to avoid lines in the ground

It may be noted in passing that you should not apply acrylic over oil paint, but it is quite safe to apply oil paint over either an acrylic primer or even a coat of acrylic paint. In the latter respect, while many artists like to use a white background, one might sometimes find it advantageous to have a colour, either using one straight from the tube or mixing two (or even three) acrylic colours together. Such a surface will usually be dry in about an hour, so there is little time lost.

A beginner in oil painting clearly needs to be aware of the various kind of supports available and their relative benefits and drawbacks. However, the easiest way to get started is to buy a canvass support already stretched, attached to a timber frame and primed. This is the kind of support most frequently stocked by shops selling artist’s materials. Once some experience has been gained, it is always possible to investigate the possibility of doing some or all the preparatory work ones self.

AUTHOR: A K Whitehead
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This will take you to paintingsinoil.co.uk main page of original images painted by A K Whitehead.
All the paintings in oil here are by A K Whitehead and are original oils and not copies. The approach is traditional, making use of various techniques, including impasto and glazing. This link will take you to the main categories of landscapes, seascapes, snowscapes, waterscapes and still life and all are provided with free frames and fastenings. Free delivery is also included within the UK.

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Tags: conclusions, white background, little time, primers, surfaces, advantages and disadvantages, dries, acrylic paint, oil painting, plywood, two coats, oil paint, good foundation, sealant, oil paintings, smooth surface