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Old 08-05-10, 05:33 PM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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Question Do you seal the gesso with matte fixative before painting? (Mische)

I'm wondering how many of you seal the gesso with a matte fixative before you paint?

I've found instructions that say to do this if you are doing the Mische Technique. Before doing your ink drawing and the imprimatura over that it says to seal the gesso with a spray matte fixative. The imprimatura is made with an oil paint glaze so I am wondering if that has anything to do with using the matte fixative to perhaps seal the gesso?

Is this something that should be done in regular egg tempera or does one just paint right onto the bare gesso?

I've used Gamblin traditional ground for my gesso and it turned out perfectly. My panels are as smooth as can be and I am very pleased with them so I don't want to ruin them by doing something wrong.

Thanks
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Old 08-05-10, 06:45 PM
briancorll briancorll is offline
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Sealing the gesso would not allow the egg emulsion to bond with the gesso, so I would not do it if painting strictly with egg emulsion in the beginning. Acrylic emulsions, such as matte fixative, are not compatible with egg techniques, although underneath an oil imprimatura it would be OK.
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Old 08-05-10, 08:07 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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*Would* it be ok with an oil imprimatura? I was under the impression the more different types of layers, the more risk of the painting delaminating later on.

In regular egg tempera you paint straight onto the gesso. And if you want to paint oils over that, I find at least one layer of egg tempera works great as a sealant over the gesso.
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Old 08-05-10, 08:38 PM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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http://www.art4spirit.com/MischeModern.html

This is the site that I am reading from. Scroll down about 1/4 of the way to the section named "Prepare a gessoed panel".

I am wondering the purpose for this? I would guess it to be "sealing" of the gesso but I may be wrong. Could it be for smooth oil glaze adhesion?

How well would oil glaze adhere to a traditional gessoed panel...would there be any problems if I omit this step?
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Old 08-05-10, 10:27 PM
briancorll briancorll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
*Would* it be ok with an oil imprimatura? I was under the impression the more different types of layers, the more risk of the painting delaminating later on.

In regular egg tempera you paint straight onto the gesso. And if you want to paint oils over that, I find at least one layer of egg tempera works great as a sealant over the gesso.
Well, if it's not OK to use an acrylic fixative under the oil imprimatura because of delaminating, there are going to be one heck of a lot of oil paintings done on acrylic gesso that will be falling apart ! I read something from the National Gallery in DC to the effect that the use of oil over an acrylic solution (whether gesso, size, of a fixative) is not the potential problem that it was originally perceived to be.
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Old 09-05-10, 07:05 AM
VK VK is offline
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The basic problem is that the unsealed gesso surface is too absorbent and any oil paint glazed over it will end up with a lot of the oil sinking into the surface and leaving the pigment underbound (not to mention that the oil paint handles badly on such an absorbent surface).

1. You can seal the gesso first (before doing any drawings) with a thinned RSG solution, if you would like. Apparently, this is the traditional way the ground was built for oil paintings and egg tempera goes on this well though it doesnt handle as nicely as on the raw gesso. I have not tried ink on RSG though if I recall right, this was suggested in Altoon Sultan's book as a possibility on paper.

2. You can also seal the gesso with a very thin layer of linseed oil. I do not know if this is traditional but considering that one of the mische techniques involves painting into wet oil with egg tempera, this will work *if* you do your initial drawing with egg tempera while the oil is still wet. If you are using the mische technique that alternates dried oil layers and egg layers with no wet-in-wet painting, you should probably avoid this as it is an unnecessary variable ....

3. You can seal the surface with egg yolk medium either before (in which case the drawing is better done with egg after the sealing step) or after the initial drawing but before the oil glaze as Alessandra mentioned. This is generally my preference (and I spray on the egg medium after the drawing) as it is far easier to make an egg yolk solution than RSG and I have no reason to introduce a new variable in the mix -- afterall, if something goes wrong I have fewer things to blame and fix. Plus it leaves the surface with a unified feel.


And finally this regarding the acrylic gesso comment:

Acrylic Gesso is not the same as acrylic medium which is not the same as acrylic size. They all use acrylic polymers but they are not the same. In fact, acrylic paints from different vendors feel different enough to me that I am not even sure they all use the same formulations.

I have no information to add on the longevity (of lack thereof) of oil/egg-tempera on acrylic surfaces (this forum already has plenty of info on that) but here is what I think of the *handling* of those surfaces for egg tempera.

Acrylic Gesso has plenty of calcium carbonate which gives the surface some tooth especially if you paint them on yourself. (Premade acrylic surfaces are slicker than home-painted ones, unclear to me why but likely because these were sized with one of the acrylic mediums to reduce the abrasiveness of the surface). Golden makes an absorbent gesso that is slightly abrasive to brushes but fantastic for metalpoint work.

Acrylic fluid mediums generally form slick films and as far as sealing for oil goes, Golden seems to recommend only Acrylic 100 (which is an acrylic size and it is unclear to me that matt fixative is actually acrylic 100, seems more to be like acrylic 500 though I could be wrong).
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Old 09-05-10, 12:03 PM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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QUOTING VK:

"The basic problem is that the unsealed gesso surface is too absorbent and any oil paint glazed over it will end up with a lot of the oil sinking into the surface and leaving the pigment underbound (not to mention that the oil paint handles badly on such an absorbent surface)."

Yes, this is what I was afraid of so thanks for clearing that up.


"2. If you are using the mische technique that alternates dried oil layers and egg layers with no wet-in-wet painting, you should probably avoid this as it is an unnecessary variable ...."

Although I am not yet completely certain of the methods I will be using, I think I am going to be doing it this way and using the 3 oil glazes in red, yellow and blue and then using plaka for the white sculpting and then egg tempera for the colors.

"3. You can seal the surface with egg yolk medium............or after the initial drawing but before the oil glaze as Alessandra mentioned. This is generally my preference (and I spray on the egg medium after the drawing) as it is far easier to make an egg yolk solution than RSG and I have no reason to introduce a new variable in the mix -- afterall, if something goes wrong I have fewer things to blame and fix. Plus it leaves the surface with a unified feel."

I like this idea.

  • Would it still be okay to do my drawing in ink? I want to be able to see and use it throughout the process.
  • When you spray it on do you just use a little travel container-type spray bottle and is it a fairly light spray?


Once my pigments arrive later this week, I will use all of this information and guidance that I've received on this site to do some experimentation on a panel I prepared solely for practice. I am sure that I'll have plenty more questions and I want to express my sincere thank you to all of you for being so helpful to me and many others. It is truly appreciated.
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  #8  
Old 09-05-10, 01:11 PM
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EllenT EllenT is offline
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Hi,

When painting in egg tempera on a traditionnally gessoed panel I work directly on the primed but unsealed panel. In the past, I have experimented with first coating the panel with a light coat of rabbit skin glue size, but it does not seem necessary and there seems to be no need to reduce absorbency for the egg tempera itself.

If I am using the egg tempera layer as an underpainting for future work in oils (which I usually am), then the egg tempera works pretty well as a sealer against panel absorbency. Still, in order to level the playing field, protect the egg tempera and reduce absorbency, I use a light coat of r.s. size. (as recommended by Thompson, I think)

I see you have some questions also about the india ink? I do that on the prepared but unsized panel, sometimes in combination with silverpoint, then paint in egg tempera over that, then seal, then an imprimatura, then oils. The oils are done using a mixed technique combo of painting medium and emulsion. The emulsion recipe substitutes a methyl cellusloe glue called alcasit for the egg yolk ingredient. The painting technique seems to be a variation of the "mische technique" which was called the "mixed method" when I learned it. Confusion of tongues to the curious.

Nevertheless, good luck and keep the spirit of experimentation happily to the fore!

Last edited by EllenT; 09-05-10 at 01:13 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 09-05-10, 01:59 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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briancorll said

"I read something from the National Gallery in DC to the effect that the use of oil over an acrylic solution (whether gesso, size, of a fixative) is not the potential problem that it was originally perceived to be."

Can you find the reference to that? I would be very interested.
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  #10  
Old 09-05-10, 04:12 PM
VK VK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by artistcb View Post
QUOTING VK:

I like this idea.

  • Would it still be okay to do my drawing in ink? I want to be able to see and use it throughout the process.
  • When you spray it on do you just use a little travel container-type spray bottle and is it a fairly light spray?
It really depends on the ink and how you intend to use it. The general recommendation is to use the ink thinly (i.e., do a detailed silver point drawing or do a graphite drawing transfer first and then fill in the ink so that there is only one thin layer of ink at any given point). This was so that the ink does not change the absorbency of the surface too much. This method works really well for all kinds of inks I have (true chinese ink, india ink and concentrated watercolor inks which seem to have less shellac than the india ink).

Both RSG and egg yolk are practically transparent. I spray using a travel spray like bottle but I do this outside primarily as the spray goes everywhere. I also dont spray directly on the painting but let the painting lie flat while I spray about 3 feet above and horizontally so that the drops will fall on the painting. This makes the coating even (you can check the coating by looking at it in raking light). It is better to do two or three very light sprays with an hour or so between the coats (it is hard to coat everywhere without getting blobs of egg yolk on the painting, so I prefer to coat less each time). If you wanted to spray, you should probably try it out on newsprint paper, though earlier on, I had lots of big blogs fall on the painting but these dried to no bad effect. Still, it bothers me enough that I try to get an even coating.

It is also possible to brush a nice thin layer of egg so long as the egg tempera part underneath is really dry (a couple of days in my environment) and you dont go over a brushed area again (the egg lifts right back though you may not see it so well). It is just a personal preference to use a spray, I don't see any differences on the surface quality.
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