Painting in Oils on Watercolour Paper

Painting in Oils on Watercolour Paper

I was recently asked about painting in oils on prepared Water-Colour paper. For my part I am quite happy to paint on primed watercolour paper though I don’t very often as I paint mostly on stretched cotton canvases but do use primed Water Colour paper for demos where I am only doing bits and pieces, showing techniques etc. I often use Fabriano ‘Artistico’ or Arches rough 140lb for purposes such as these.

The reason I have no problem with the thought of artists painting on primed WC paper is that the primer used on manufactured canvases and canvas boards is pretty much the same as you buy as an acrylic gesso primer, though I would always recommend Acrylic ‘Gesso’ primer as this remains very slightly absorbent which you need for oils to ‘Key’ properly in the initial stages.

Regarding framing, if a painting is created on prepared water-colour paper then there is absolutely no reason to have to treat it any differently to an oil on canvas, it should, obviously, be backed with a sensibly strong backing board and in an ideal world this should be acid free or archival, but once the painting is backed it can be put into a frame without mount or glass. What I would do, as I always do with my oil paintings, is to varnish when ‘touch dry’ with a Re-Touch Varnish, I have always used W&Ns but please note, this is not a water-mixable product. When the painting is six months old, I varnish with a traditional picture varnish and frame as you would a canvas board or stretched canvas. Oil paintings can be put behind glass as an ‘extra’ layer of protection as they did with some in the past, however, currently where we no longer suffer from ‘Pea Soupers’ or such destructive, polluted air and cigarette smoke this is no longer necessary, simply varnishing will give plenty of protection.

One of the main reasons I started the Society was to have a platform to dispel as many of the myths surrounding WMOs as possible and it is very surprising how many professional artists who write and teach are a little confused with the science, for instance, many believe it dries faster than traditional oils which simply isn’t the case, however, drying time does vary between pigments and even brands. Having written a book a few years ago I did thorough research of a scientific nature before committing information to my editorial and got Winsor and Newton to read it before launching it and they were quite happy for me to go ahead. I am sent samples of products to try and write about by various companies and more recently have been asked for advice on what an artist really needs for painting with WMOs, so they must think I know a little about the subject that I am so passionate about.

If you have any technical questions regarding using WMOs or related subjects then please don’t hesitate to ask, if I don’t know the answer, and my fellow professionals don’t know either I will ask the scientists at Winsor & Newton. MI