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Old 18-02-16, 08:08 PM
zarina zarina is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: England
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Default Applying further gesso layers on a dry board, previously gessoed

Can anyone advise if one is able to apply further layers of gesso, after an initial coating of 7-8 layers of gesso several months previously? My way of applying egg tempera is by applying many layers of glaze & repeated sanding back. Unfortunately, I may have sanded back to far in a few places revealing the board underneath. I have also had to completely sand back several panels to their white gesso ground, after applying too much dark glaze, so I am in a position to apply new coats of gesso over the old dry ones - but I read somewhere this may cause adhesion problems in subsequent layers. Expert advice please! Thank you
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Old 20-02-16, 03:55 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Oceanside, CA
Posts: 340

I should think that natural gesso on natural gesso ought to be fine. Regardless of age.
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Old 20-02-16, 05:00 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 317

Hi Zarina,

The durability of a particular painting practice is not always black and white. For example, it is clearly a bad idea to make red pigment from beet juice; it will unquestionably fade. But there are a hundred other, slightly-less-than-ideal practices that may contribute to problems in the future (either because of an accumulation of less than optimal choices, or a single especially bad circumstance) - but then again, because they are merely slightly-less-than-ideal practices, they may not make a wit of difference in the life of a painting.

I would put this topic in that category. From what I've read it is preferable to apply gesso layers all at once; a fresh, ever-so-slightly moist layer of gesso is a bit more receptive to another layer of moist gesso applied on top; there is better dispersion (and thus adhesion) between the two layers. But how critical is this? I don't know. I would guess not too critical (but I stress, I don't know for sure).

If the paintings being made are important (whatever the reason; aesthetic, sentimental or monetary value) and if circumstance permit (and they don't always) it's a good idea to opt for best known practices. But if it extreme durability isn't absolutely critical or you don't have the time, putting a fresh layer of gesso over an old one is probably not too great a compromise to the painting, particularly if your other practices are generally good.

For the fun of it (well, for those who have a strange sense of fun) try making a few such panels and then subject them to extreme circumstances; especially lots of moisture, which would probably be the greatest challenge to less-than-perfect adhesion between gesso layers. See what happens. (Report back, please.)

Another option (which you're probably already thought of) is to have more gesso layers to start with. Can you put on enough gesso from the get-go to avoid this problem?

Your landscapes are gorgeous (both oil and ET). Please do more in egg tempera! :-) Just kidding, of course you may paint however you's just nice to see someone creating loose, painterly images with tempera. It's so well suited to that but primarily attracts meticulous line makers (like me) because it is also so good at making lines.


Last edited by Koo Schadler; 26-02-16 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 22-02-16, 08:55 PM
zarina zarina is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: England
Posts: 11

Thank you for all the advice. Hmmm, not sure what to do really although I remember now I gessoed the reverse of panels to stop warping so I could use the backs instead, probably safest answer. Thank you again.

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