March 11, 2013

The importance of a good surface preparation

This week I wanted to take some time to talk about the importance of the proper preparation of  painting surfaces. Oddly enough this is not something that I learned in art school but that is probably because I studies illustration instead of fine art. In illustration speed is more important then longevity and the work is created for reproduction rather then display. I was very fortunate to encounter a very knowledgeable teacher along the way who taught me about the importance of surface preparation and the proper ways of doing it. I would like to state upfront that I am not an expert on this subject, I am not a classically trained painter, but I would still like to share what knowledge I have because I think this is an important subject that adds to the value of your artwork.

Good surface preparation is not only important to get the best results out of your paints but also to prevent the deterioration of you work over time. When you paint on an unprepared surface part of your paints will be absorbed into the surface which will cause the colours to be less intense and in some cases the paints can damage the surface and make it rot or crack. Things like support induces discolouration are very likely to happen over time if you don’t prepare your surface properly, especially when you work on wood panels. The oils of the wood will seep through your paints over time and create visible staining. Oil paints tend to get more transparent over the years which will cause imperfections in the surface underneath to show through, this might also be the case with acrylic paints but because these paints and mediums are relatively new it is hard to say how they will look in 200 years. 

When you buy a pre-made canvas at the store it will often state that it has been prepared for the use of acrylic and oil paints. Most of the time it is impossible to tell which materials have been use to do this preparation so it is always advisable to add some products of your own before you start painting. Wood panels are often not prepared at all when you buy them so preparation is an absolute must. 

I hope this information has provided a little bit of insight on the importance of surface preparation. Next week I would like to take some more time on this subject and talk about the actual preparation and the products I use. For now it’s time to leave this blog and get ready for some much needed composition making!

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