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The lazy way to get an oil-primed canvas

Here’s how:

  1. Buy an acrylic-primed, stretched can­vas and some oil primer. Avoid the ones made poorly with really cheap materials.
  2. Clean the can­vas with dena­tured alco­hol and let it dry.
  3. Spread primer onto the can­vas with a knife. Make the layer thin. You can dilute the primer slightly with sol­vent if desired.
  4. Use your fin­gers to rub the primer into the weave of the can­vas. Keep rub­bing until you have a very smooth, very thin layer of primer.
  5. If it’s a leaded primer, then wear gloves and take other pre­cau­tions as needed to insure that you don’t ingest any.
  6. Place the can­vas fac­ing inward toward a wall to limit the amount of dust that will fall onto it before it dries.
  7. Allow the primer to cure for at least sev­eral weeks.

Is this as good, archivally, as stretch­ing and prim­ing the can­vas from scratch? No, it is not. Is it a really bad idea? I don’t see why it would be any worse than paint­ing straight onto acrylic-primed canvas.

It makes a very smooth, non­ab­sorbent, lovely sur­face to paint on.

Posted in art materials, oil painting.

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2 Responses

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  1. Jeff says

    Hi David–

    I wanted to do this as a way of eco­nom­i­cally pro­duc­ing decent sup­ports for stud­ies that had a chance of last­ing if they came out well–

    I bought some Rublev lead oil ground from nat­ural pigments–

    –What would you con­sider an accept­able acrylic-primed, stretched can­vas? (any exam­ple of brand?) –Could you do this with an acrylic-primed panel / panel with an acrylic primed can­vas adhered to it?
    –If I primed the sup­port more tex­tural with a thicker impasto how long should I wait for it to cure?

    Great to see you post­ing again on a more con­sis­tent basis!

    Thanks, Jeff

  2. David says

    @Jeff -


    Fredrix seems to be OK once you’ve added oil prim­ing, and widely avail­able. There’s no rea­son why you couldn’t put oil primer onto a an acrylic-primed panel, whether it has can­vas on it or not. I tend to make pan­els from scratch, myself, and see no rea­son to add acrylic into the mix under those circumstances.

    If you add more tex­ture, I’d sug­gest wait­ing six months or so. That’s a long time to wait, but if you make up a bunch of pan­els two or three times a year, then within six months you’ll always have some­thing to paint on.

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