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Old 08-02-2020, 07:56 AM   #1  
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Default Need help: Gesso vs watercolor grounds

I have an opportunity to get some Daniel smith watercolor grounds on a nice sale.

I already have white and black gesso (but I have not tried it yet)

I looked on YT but I don't see comparisons which makes me think they may be apples and oranges?

I am new to this.

Can someone explain the difference to me and do I need the grounds? It seems to be that they are both primers?

Gesso can be used with watercolors? And can be mixed with other colors right? I know grounds are for WCs but can they be mixed? What about using them with other mediums like pencil?

Do you have a preference? I want to tap into the collective experience ocean here. 

TIA

Edit: A choice I could do is just get the grounds in buff and gold if they are pretty much the same. 

Last edited by wavejumper; 08-02-2020 at 08:06 AM..
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:20 AM   #2  
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I have only used gesso for watercolour when using it with a medium other than watercolour paper. If you're using watercolour paper, I can't imagine needing it. It was originally used more as a primer for acrylics. Certainly that's how we classed it both in warehouse storage and when merchandising in stores.
I'm not saying you can't use it, but you certainly don't need it for normal watercolour techniques.Typical watercolour mediums are gum arabic, ox gall, masking fluid, granulating medium, lifting medium and aquapasto.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:37 AM   #3  
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Ok, so I was curious and looked up watercolour grounds, they weren't around in my day. They are more absorbent than traditional gesso primer. And the coloured ones look like fun. But watercolour paper in and of itself doesn't need priming.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:55 AM   #4  
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I read all the items you listed. Thanks And I have been reading more...like gesso on WC paper to lessen the absorbency etc.

I suspect I just asked for an art class lesson and not just a product comparison Q. Shoot.
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:10 AM   #5  
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You might find this video comparing absorbent ground and gesso when using Dylusions Spray inks helpful. I would guess that the result you'd achieve with regular watercolor paint would be very similar.


https://youtu.be/OGRAgTrxKQw
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:21 AM   #6  
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Oh, also... If you are using watercolor paper you shouldn't need to use absorbent grounds. A good quality watercolor paper is already prepared to accept watercolor paint. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that absorbent grounds is usually applied to substrates to make it watercolor friendly, like canvas, wooden panels, ect.


Although I'm curious now, I wonder if there is a significant difference between a watercolor painting on watercolor paper with and without the use of absorbent grounds.
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Old 08-02-2020, 02:06 PM   #7  
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Thanks Stacy! I watched the vid-interesting! And I checked out your blog-you are so talented!

I never used the dylusion sprays I guess bc I associate them with mixed media and I don't do that. They call them a colorant...but not water based or whatever-though they clearly react to water. Right from the start I saw a different...the ink did not flow on the gesso in the initial spray before the water, but it did with the grounds.

I just got confused-I always thought of gesso for acrylics and grounds for WC...but I have been seeing a lot of gesso use with WC. I want to say Kristina Werner but now when I search on gesso there, nothing comes up.

And I see grounds as a way to change the paper color and maintain absorbency for the WC paint. For a long time I only had white WC paper (now there seems to be black) but one could use the grounds to make white WC paper black and then paint on it.

All this could be wrong..or a very limited view.
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Old 08-02-2020, 08:13 PM   #8  
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I looked up watercolor grounds and found that JacksonArt gave me the best definition:

Watercolour grounds are acrylic-based primers designed to provide the perfect amount of absorbency, and they can be used to adapt any universally primed canvas for watercolour painting.

So you would use the grounds if you want to paint on a canvas with watercolor paints.

The primary use for gesso is to prime raw canvas for painting. The canvas boards or stretched canvasses that you buy at the art store already have gesso applied to them. Some artists find that they want a "smoother" finish (that means they don't want to see the grain of the canvas fabric) and will add more gesso to the already-gessoed canvas. Gesso can also be applied to a wood panel to make a good painting surface and to reduce warping from the paint.

Canvas has to be gessoed before painting with oils. If it isn't, the fabric will just disintegrate into nothing!
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Old 08-03-2020, 12:01 AM   #9  
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When I have used regular gesso with watercolours, it's been on book pages or old sheet music, which would just fall apart with a wet colouring medium. But because it's less absorbent, it requires a different technique to paint on, compared to watercolour paper.
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Old 08-04-2020, 01:59 PM   #10  
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I had one watercolor ground that was quite textured - I don't remember the brand but probably QoR. I didn't love it, if that helps. Ha!
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Old 08-04-2020, 04:23 PM   #11  
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I am only looking to use them on paper at this time. I am sure I saw one of the bloggers using gesso before painting but I cant remember who I figure I will use that on things like chipboard maybe? I am such a supply addict.

Well I ordered the grounds so we will see how this goes. No doubt I wont do it right away...I suspect I am going to like the gold one best knowing me and metallics. LOL i am thinking for a light wash behind an image or to pair with gold WC paints I have depending on shades. It was a great sale which is how I like to buy new to me product...One thing I love about Ellen Hutson is when she has a site wide sale she will apply it to stuff in clearance too-so I was able to stack the savings.
I got small pots.


I am surprised to hear Dina you have not played with them more.


Thanks for commenting though everyone! I appreciate it!
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:32 AM   #12  
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Quote:

Originally Posted by wavejumper
Right from the start I saw a different...the ink did not flow on the gesso in the initial spray before the water, but it did with the grounds.

I just got confused-I always thought of gesso for acrylics and grounds for WC...but I have been seeing a lot of gesso use with WC.




Your thinking is correct gesso is typically used with acrylic paint. I think a lot of mixed media artists & art journalers use gesso with watercolors For several reasons. I think the first reasons is that they often don’t have a specific plan when they begin their projects and gesso is a great base for a lot of different mediums. Another common reason I’ve seen is that gesso is a great medium to use if you are working on thinner paper. It provides a barrier so that more fluid mediums don’t penetrate the paper which is really helpful if you’re working in an art journal or if your paper project is double sided.

If you want to sell your work and you’re planning to only use watercolor paint, you might want to consider just using a nice quality watercolor paper. Otherwise I say experiment & play It looks like both gesso or absorbent grounds would work well with paper & watercolor depending on what look you’re going for.
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:24 PM   #13  
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I have the transparent Daniel Smith watercolor ground. I use it mostly for making colored cardstock into "watercolor" paper for using metallic watercolors. Works great on black for that especially, & overall much cheaper & easier to use than black watercolor paper! I also have a rose digital image that I printed on a piece of cotton fabric, that I then adhered to cardstock (double sided dry adhesive sheet) & coated with watercolor ground. I haven't yet painted it (one of my UFOs), but I'm sure the ground will keep the watercolors from bleeding into the fabric. As someone else said here, the ground is to make non-watercolor paper surfaces watercolor-friendly. Just keep in mind that (as per the instructions) you have to let watercolor ground dry for 24-48 hours before painting. Also, I've found that if you apply it too thickly to cardstock, it will dry with milky streaks. HTH!
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:44 PM   #14  
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Thanks Stacey. My little brain is easily confused... when I see people experimenting I may think that is a normal use for a product and then I get confused with too many choices about which thing is supposed to go with which thing. I may just start putting labels on stuff.

I look forward to seeing the rose project Andrea! Thanks for the info on the clear one.
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Old 05-08-2022, 10:02 PM   #15  
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for the many years when Strathmore 100% rag illustration board was my main surface, I always began with a watercolor underpainting for all my egg temperas, and they are still fine more than two decades later. Although lately I prefer to start with egg tempera for my underpaintings on panel, I have also used a watercolor underpainting on true gesso (rabbit-skin glue based gesso) panels with no problem. Through a miniature painting forum I have participated in, I was interested to learn that some of my fellow miniature painters, such as Rachelle Siegrist, have enjoyed true gesso panel as a surface for their paintings although done entirely in gouache and/or watercolor, and there is actually a new interest going on, at least in the miniature realm for varnishing such paintings with sophisticated spray varnishes or UV varnishes and skipping the glass. In the world of art marketing, some say that paintings without glass sell better than those with glass, which may account for the interest in these varnishing watercolors.
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Old 05-13-2022, 08:25 AM   #16  
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Don't know if this video has already been noted. Emma does various basic watercolor instructions, and this one involved using the grounds for the first time. I think she tried it on wood but don't know what other surfaces she sampled.
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