Okay! I’m Revved Up but Canvas is Expensive.

I’m now a full-time artist!  We are ’empty nest’ parents and the explosive tumult has become quiet luxury. Since I am a visual learner (no surprise here), sounds interrupt my thinking processes. I now luxuriate in my thoughts. I envision new experiments with all the art materials that overtake my studio. I visualize the paint layers I might try. I imagine the colors. This really gets my creative ‘battery’ charged and I can’t wait to dig in on my selected support.

In art lingo, a support is what you choose to do your art on.  It can be a stretched canvas, a wood panel, a panel with a sized canvas surface, even something you found in a pile of trash.  The preparation of the support depends on the medium you use. A very generic one is gesso (pronounced with a soft G). This is usually white and seals the under-surface so that it is less absorbent. Another prep material is acrylic matte medium.  It can be used for oil paint  although gesso is most preferred. The basic rule to remember is, “Fat over lean but no lean over fat”.  If you are using an linseed based medium like oil paints, you can use it as accents on acrylic.  However, acrylic over an oil painting will not bond and is non-permanent. Acrylics can be used over a watercolor  support.

Caution! Oil based products like linseed oil will cause oil seepage on your paper supports. To use oils on a paper support like illustration board, first seal the surface with gesso. 

I actually found paintings that were thirty years old, rolled up in my attic loft. I did these in art college and they were still framable. To save money because of the frequency we painted, we coated good quality Kraft paper with actual white latex house paint. The latex worked just like gesso and a gallon went a long way.  I painted hundreds on it with both oils and acrylics, cut to size and taped to a gator board.  Because they were rolled up and stored in the dark, the colors were still vibrant.

If you are playing around trying new ideas and practicing my Kraft paper thing is great. Also, when you are developing a series, it is a cheap way to try your ideas and then do your ‘serious’ painting of it on canvas. Plus, they are easy to store for later reference and you don’t have stacks of practice canvases to crowd your studio.

I hope this little tidbit helps you understand about painting surfaces so that you can make the right choices for more archival art. We will not be around for a hundred and fifty years but our art will!