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Old 25-11-17, 07:54 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 312

Hi DB,

I have worked on oil based grounds, but only when painting in oil. There seems to me a fundamental incompatibility between a ground that contains (even a very small amount) of oil, which is water-phobic; and a water-based medium, such as egg tempera - especially if controlling and getting the water in ET paint off the surface asap (by having it be absorbed by the ground) helps in controlling the paint.

If a tempera painter has a working method that uses absolutely minimal water - i.e. very dry brush - than that painter probably can get an oil-based ground to behave. I work a lot with dry brush in egg tempera, but I also work with puddles of paint, thick sponged-on layers, wet splatterings, and other water-intensive ways. Additionally I accumulate a lot of layers, anywhere from 20 to 200, often quickly, depending on what I'm painting (and the more layers, no matter how they're applied, the more water is introduced into the ground).

Another consideration is brushwork. Crosshatching (how many ET painters work) helps weave together the paint; and a single, thin brushstroke is less likely to lift or affect areas of previously applied paint. I don't do a lot of crosshatching. I apply more random mark-making, as well as continuous layers of paint. Continuous paint layers are less interwoven, and their application is more likely to wet and thus affect larger areas of a painting, which potentially creates more opportunities for lifting (if the water has no place to go).

All these things are probably why my working method is not well suited to a ground with oil in it. Egg tempera (unlike oil) can't be physically pushed around or blended on the surface; instead ET painters create an image by (a) controlling the sort of marks being made, and (b) accumulating layers. These two things are possible only if a painter has control of the water content in the paint, and a maximally absorbent ground helps to do this.

If you have any thoughts on the above, I'd be most interested. Also, if you've had experience with any of the alternative gessos, please share. It's good to hear your voice on the forum.

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