Painting Mediums and Grounds

What are painting mediums?

Painting mediums alter the functional properties of paint. Mediums often contain ingredients not found in artists’ colors, such as solvents, oils, waxes, resins, extender pigments, and other substances that are used to change the consistency of paint. These mediums change the handling properties of paint, such as flow out and leveling; increase or decrease tackiness and drag; hasten or retard drying time, increase or decrease gloss, increase transparency, or other characteristics.

What is a ground for painting?

The ground is the layer used to prepare a support for painting; its color and tone can affect the chromatic and tonal values of the paint layers applied over it. The ground is the first layer of paint applied to a support. It is an undercoat, which can either be covered entirely by subsequent paint layers or left visible in the final artwork. In traditional painting, when the support is a wood panel, the ground is usually made of gesso or chalk bound with animal glue, but when the support is canvas, the ground is usually made of underlying paint layers.

Why do painters use grounds or primers?

Using a ground or primer has several practical advantages and some important aesthetic ones. Grounds serve several functional purposes: They compensate for the uneven absorbency of a wooden, fabric, or paper support. They are opaque to obscure the surface underneath. They help to make paint application easier and more consistent. They also serve critical aesthetic functions: They can be toned or pigmented to provide specific desired aesthetic effects. Grounds also affect the color and tonal values of the final painting. 


Learn More About Painting Mediums and Grounds


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