Saturday, September 5, 2009

Experiments with Grounds - 5

Trina and I were out taking a walk at sunrise the other day by the Head Harbour Lighthouse, and it was like an episode of Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom." On one side, minke and humpback whales were dining on mackerel. I've never heard so much breeching and blowing! On the other side, a pair of bald eagles was fishing yet another school of mackerel. A few of the local men, who like to gather at the lighthouse to swap news, were having coffee in mugs they'd brought from home. We had a nice chat with them about the whales.

Now, on to more experimenting with grounds! Today I worked with Gamblin Oil Painting Ground.

"Dazzle Days"
9x12, oil/panel

When I opened up the can, I was surprised to see something that resembled putty. It must be applied with a knife. Here's what the Gamblin website says about this product:

"Gamblin Oil Painting Ground makes a strong, bright foundation for oil paintings. Formulated from alkyd resin, titanium dioxide, and barium sulfate, Gamblin Ground makes canvas and linen stiffer than acrylic 'gesso' and more flexible than traditional oil primers. Barium sulfate gives Gamblin Ground its tooth. Titanium dioxide gives Gamblin Ground its opacity.

"Because the percentage of pigments is so much higher than in acrylic "gesso", painters need only apply TWO coats of Gamblin Ground instead of the recommended four coats of acrylic. More coats can be added for smoother painting surfaces. Because alkyd resin is used instead of linseed oil as the binder, Gamblin Ground is more flexible and dries more quickly than lead/linseed oil grounds. Lead/linseed oil grounds must dry for six months and Gamblin Ground is ready for paint application within a week."

Although it seems to be designed mostly for cloth surfaces, it can be used on panels. In fact, Ampersand, who makes the "Hardbord" panels I use, notes: "To avoid having to size your panels and to speed up drying time, you can use the Oil Painting Ground manufactured by Gamblin Artists Colors." This is in reference to applying an oil primer, which would require that the panel be sized prior to application of the primer.

I applied the recommended two coats with a knife and smoothed with a brush. (I let the first coat dry, of course, before applying the second.) My test for absorbency showed this was the least absorbent surface of all, being even less absorbent than my three-coat Blick Master Gesso test.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I painted on it. Although the least absorbent surface, it seemed to have more "tooth" than the Blick Gesso - I suppose because of the barium sulfate - and took paint well.

The paint got tacky sooner than I expected, but I think that is because of the uncommon dry, warm air we have in the Maritimes right now. If you're looking for a good weather painting spot, this is it for the next week!

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