How to primer canvas under acrylic and oil for painting?

The paintings, painted in oil and acrylic, differ significantly from each other. It’s easy to see the differences even with the naked eye. This is justified by the cardinal difference between the material used to write the canvas and the technique of preparing the canvas. For oil painting, paints based solely on vegetable oils are used, since it is these oils that are the main binder component. It is worth noting that a canvas primed for painting is more suitable for creating an oil painting than acrylic, since acrylic paints have a water base. There are several basic techniques for applying a primer. Both under acrylic and under oil paints. In addition, the canvas itself can be made of various materials.

canvas for painting

Factory canvas primed for painting

For beginner artists or those who do not want to spend time preparing paintings for painting, materials already prepared for work are sold. For oil paintings sold a special canvas, primed, in a roll. It does not need to be glued or ground, you can start painting immediately after purchase. This is done quite quickly and simply, the procedure does not require special skills. You can also find on sale a canvas primed with a contour, along which in the future the remains of the canvas are either cropped or used to fix the finished picture in a frame. Prepared paintings for work are sold not only for painting with oil paints, but also for acrylic. In case the fabric is replaced with cardboard, because acrylic paints have a water base and on paper they look much better and more effective than on any other materials, canvas primed on cardboard is used.

what should be the canvas

What should be the canvas?

The main criterion that must be present in the canvas for painting with oil paints is its elasticity. During the application of the soil under the brush, a pleasant springing effect should occur, due to which the strokes will be more expressive, and the application process itself will be much more energetic. As the base material, it is best to use linen or hemp, since cotton, viscose or any other kind of fabric does not interact well with the primer because of its granular texture. The first, educational work should be performed on canvases with medium-thick threads, but if you plan to write a large picture, you should use coarse-grained views.

The basis for painting with acrylic paints should be selected more carefully and responsibly, since the paints themselves are very specific. This is justified by the fact that, due to the water base, such materials need special diluents. The main advantage of acrylic is that the finished picture from this material does not turn yellow over time, and the paints themselves are hypoallergenic. Due to its structure, acrylic is best suited for cardboard, as paper has the ability to absorb excess water. However, ordinary cardboard is not suitable for painting; usually, Sonnet brand cardboard is used for painting.

primer canvas

Before starting work

When choosing a material, it is very important to know how to properly primer the canvas so that the material lays down as high as possible. If, nevertheless, a novice artist wants to learn all the basics of painting and decides to primer himself, he must take into account that this is a very long and laborious process. In addition to a lot of time, it will also require quite a lot of primer material, therefore, if the budget of the painting is relatively small, it is better to buy a ready-made primed base, since a decent amount will be required to purchase material for a self-primer. It is very important to understand the following point. When buying cheaper and not too high-quality soil, there is a risk of spoiling the whole picture completely, since poor-quality material will be at its core.

Primed canvas at home is possible, and this option has several advantages over ready-made, factory soil. First of all, the artist himself can choose the shade that he wants to see as the basis, you can mix several tones at the same time and eventually get something original and non-trivial. In addition to shades, there are no restrictions on the shape of the canvas of the future picture, it can be adjusted at your discretion. Another positive point is the coating layer. It is also controlled directly by the artist and is selected in accordance with the necessary artistic goals. The main signs of proper application and soil quality are:

  • The paint applied on top of the primer dries evenly.
  • The primer completely covers all openings and minor defects of the material.
  • With its help, the desired texture is created, which can be perfectly smooth, while maintaining the texture, or with various visual effects.
  • The primer provides protection against ink directly on the material.
  • Using a primer, the maximum adhesion to any paints or other art materials used should be present at the surface of the painting.
  • High-quality soil provides guaranteed resistance to moisture. And also has antiseptic properties.

If the fabric is treated with a high-quality primer, it retains good elasticity for many years.

proper canvas primer

How to prime a canvas under oil

If you decide to figure out how to prime the canvas, before you start applying the primer under the oil, it must first be fixed on a stretcher and prepared. How to stretch the canvas on a stretcher can be found below in the article. If the application of the soil is carried out independently, the material should be as dense as possible, with a minimum number of various defects.

First of all, before applying the first layer, it is necessary to moisten the canvas a little so that moisture does not appear on the wrong side of the canvas. Moisture will give expansion to the fibers, due to which glue will practically not leak out during gluing. Also, if there are small knots or irregularities, you can polish the stretched canvas with a pumice stone.

Application of glue will protect the sheet from oil impregnation from paints. However, do not apply glue with too thick a layer, the canvas should maintain elasticity and natural texture. But at the same time, openings and protrusions should be absent. Typically, the adhesive is applied in two stages with several thin layers with intermediate drying.

The most important and responsible is precisely the first stage of applying glue, since it is necessary that a thin protective film is formed, while the glue itself does not seep through the canvas. For this, liquid glue at room temperature is most often used, due to which a uniform distribution is achieved throughout the canvas. And fast, reliable fastening. If the surface texture is rough enough, the glue should be a thicker, jelly-like consistency. When applying such glue to the canvas, it is impossible to press so that it does not soak completely. Repeated smears in the same area should also be avoided. If the adhesive solution is liquid, it must be applied very quickly so that there is no excess. After the first layer, you need to dry and sand the canvas. Then apply a couple more thin layers of glue, drying and grinding in the gaps, and only after the sizing becomes uniform and the gaps between the fibers disappear, you can start applying the primer. For applying thick glue, you need to use a spatula or spatula, and for a liquid solution - hard and wide brushes.

priming canvas

How to dry and sand the canvas?

Drying is necessary after each application to the canvas. If you know how to prime the canvas, drying will not take much effort. The main thing is not to violate generally accepted technology, so as not to degrade the quality of the base. Depending on which mixture is used, the drying time may be different. So, for example, adhesive primers require about five days to dry, and emulsions take up to two weeks, oil formulations dry the longest - from 2 to 10 months. It is very important that the drying of the soil is uniform. And performed at room temperature. Drying the soil in the sun, near a battery or in a draft is strictly prohibited.

After priming the canvas you have finished, the primer has dried, it is necessary to sand the canvas before applying the final layer, as this removes various defects from the canvas and improves adhesion. Grinding is performed using fine-grained sandpaper or pumice. The grinding itself should be as accurate as possible to avoid damage to the texture of the soil. The final layer of soil is usually not to be processed. Only if there is a need to enhance adhesion with paint.

What is the primer applied to?

The primer is applied in an extremely thin layer. And only with a brush or palette knife. The principle of applying the primer is exactly the same as performing the sizing of the canvas. So that the adhesion of the soil to the paint is as effective as possible, tinting is added to the soil in stages, in each new layer its content increases. Thanks to this technology, the surface of the canvas will become as flexible as possible, resistant to moisture and temperature fluctuations, as well as other external factors of influence.

acrylic canvas primer

What are convenient canvases with finished sizing and primer?

In each specialized art store you can buy paintings already prepared for drawing, for example, a primed canvas in a roll, for oil painting. Its acquisition greatly facilitates the work of the master and significantly saves his time. Since it is oil primers that dry the longest. However, there is also a primed canvas on cardboard for acrylic writing. Such canvases will not only save time spent on the primer, but also save the artist from various unpleasant nuances, such as leaking canvas during impregnation with glue or other moments. This is precisely the advantage of factory primer bases. They significantly save time, effort and, of course, the money spent on preparatory materials. The most popular canvas among acrylic paintings is a primed canvas on Sonnet cardboard.

At home

For a primer for oil, you can use a gelatin-based primer prepared at home on your own. Such a primer is quite easy to apply and relatively inexpensive. It is suitable for processing dense and coarse canvas, because it can be both liquid and half-hardened. The gelatin primer for sizing may consist of components such as glycerin or honey, directly gelatin, white or chalk, and water. Each layer of such soil dries in about 12 hours. The main thing is to carefully dilute the main components (honey and gelatin) in a water bath during cooking so as not to overheat them.

You can also use glue primer. It is very convenient, as it dries quickly, but you should take into account the negative points. During painting, this primer often absorbs the binder components of oil paint. Also, this soil is very susceptible to moisture and moisture. Another problem is the increased stiffness of the web after processing. And if you use glue primer with a softener, after a while the canvas may begin to rot. Most artists prefer casein primers either on polyvinyl alcohol with the addition of zinc or titanium white.

Unlike glue, oil soil is resistant to high humidity and does not absorb the binder components of the paint, however, it also has some drawbacks. It dries for a very long time and after a while begins to turn yellow, as a result of which the image gradually darkens. Acrylic canvas is much easier to primer. Since almost any kind of soil is well suited to them.

How to prime acrylic on canvas: preparation

As a primer for acrylic painting, primers based on the acrylic itself are most often used. They are a special mixture with the same binder as the paint itself - an acrylic polymer emulsion. The composition of such primers also includes barite with magnesium and calcium carbonate, which create a certain texture of the primer. If the painting is painted with body paint, priming is not necessary at all. The only thing that is required is to form a continuous solid film on which paint will be applied afterwards. This is necessary to protect against soaking, since acrylic paints have a water base, and various types of cardboard are used for the canvas. For acrylic works, as well as for oil, there is a special primed canvas on cardboard with a contour for sale. In the future, the outline will be needed to frame the picture.

finished primed canvas

Features of applying under acrylic

It is possible to apply a primer on a canvas under an acrylic painting vertically or horizontally. The primer is applied on a horizontally located surface as follows: a primer is poured onto a lying sheet, after which a quick, accurate distribution of the mass around the entire perimeter begins with a scraper or squeegee, you can also use a rubber spatula. The layer must be thin. It is very important not to use tools that contain soft black rubber to distribute the soil on the surface of the canvas, as this will cause the canvas to get dirty with black stains and hopelessly deteriorate.

If you find out, after you started priming the canvas, that the consistency of the primer is quite liquid, it is better to avoid the vertical application method, as this can cause a number of certain problems, such as stains and uneven application. Although many professionals use this particular method. Indeed, with its help, the primer of the canvas is much faster than the usual application of soil with a brush.

If the canvas is sufficiently stiff and rough, apply the soil only with a brush. Given the degree of absorption, application is carried out in several layers, but not less than two. The first layer is usually diluted with water. If the canvas is quite large, you can use a spray gun for a uniform and smooth primer.

If a primer with a strong absorbing effect is used as a primer for acrylic painting, for example, such as a wood fiber board, you can add an acrylic glossy agent in one thin layer to it. Immediately before application, it must be diluted with water. This is necessary in order to reduce the level of porosity of the primer to an acceptable level. When applying a primer to a surface with a high level of absorption, which was not previously glued, the binder components of the material are completely absorbed into the canvas. Because of this, a “granular powder” effect will appear on the surface. Recently, a ready-made primed canvas on Brauberg cardboard has appeared on sale, especially for acrylic painting.

What next? You need to figure out how to pull a primed canvas onto a stretcher. To fix the canvas on a stretcher, you will need to do the following: lay out the canvas on the work surface and put a frame on top of it. It is very important that the fibers of the canvas are in the same direction as the lines of the frame. You must not miss this moment. If the fabric lies at an angle, over time, the deformation of the frame will begin and the edges of the canvas will bend upward. It is necessary to take the near long edge and tuck it into the inside of the subframe. Then, using a stapler, fix with three brackets. At the edges of the subframe, the web is fixed at the final stage. After fixing one side, you need to expand the canvas and, pulling it well, perform the same procedure. Fastening with brackets should begin to be carried out from the middle to the edges, since otherwise the canvas will come out skewed. And it will sag in the center. If fastening of a non-primed sheet is carried out, it should be slightly moistened with water before the start of the process, using a spray bottle. It is necessary to moisten the inside. This is done so that after drying the water a denser stretch of the web is formed. It is best to spray with water after fixing the long sides of the canvas on a stretcher.


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