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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Can You Do an Underpainting Over Clear Gesso?

'Beauty at my Doorstep'          14x11          pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $225
 The paint was flying today! I finished a Patreon demo video showing an oil stain underpainting and I had quite a bit of oil paint leftover. I always put out too much! When I do oil underpaintings I always like to do several at once. I want to take advantage of the materials once I have the paint out and poured the Gamsol. Then I only have one clean up session! So I hunted around the studio looking for paper that I could repurpose with some oil paint!

I found a piece of Uart paper that had a fresh coat of clear gesso. I was remaking an unfinished demo. I wanted the texture of the clear gesso. I was left with a gray textured piece of paper. Would I be able to add some thin oil paint to this paper? It was already dry so I thought I would give it a try.

The dried clear gesso piece of Uart
 I  have been asked if it is possible to apply clear gesso over paper and then do a wet underpainting. The concern was that the gesso and texture would dissolve. It seems reasonable....getting something wet with alcohol or odorless mineral spirits might change the texture or the gesso. But then if you think about it gesso is used to prime boards and canvas before painting with oils and acrylics.....so it should be fine.

I used some of the extra oil paint and thinned it to the consistency of tea before creating my underpainting. It worked just fine. The paper retained it's texture and the oil paint did its drippy thing! The overall effect was a bit dull because of the dark paper. I find that the oil stain underpaintings look better on light or white surfaces.

So the answer to the question is YES. It works just fine to combine underpainting techniques. Just be sure to wait until the coat of clear gesso is completely dry before adding your underpainting medium.

After painting with thinned oil paint

close up detail
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