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Cracked oil paint


(Sunny Avocado) #1

I did 2 paintings last year but never posted them and I came across them and thought I would sell them and I noticed fairly significant cracks in the surface of the dried oil paint rendering them unsalable. Anyone ever have that problem ?

This isn’t a great photo of it but… you can see the cracks. I had gessoed it twice, cradled wood panels from DickBlick that I don’t buy anymore because they would sometimes arrive not quite squared off. So now I get Ampersand. Much better. Couid’ve been the panel? I think I put Kamar varnish on it.

Mostly Winsor & Newton artist oils. A bit of Gamblin too.


(Joseph Mahon) #2

Hi Sunny,
I would think it’s a faulty board and not the paint. The fault is seen only when a paint layer is dry. Like a foundation crack.


(Sunny Avocado) #3

Thanks @Joseph_Mahon, I am wondering how many others did this that I did on those boards. :frowning:


(Andrea Jeris) #4

Wood is subject to changes in humidity and dryness and will shrink or expand causing the paint to crack. Canvas flexing also can cause cracks. I use the Ampersand hardboard panels and hope this surface will be a better solution for this problem.


(Jacqueline Davis) #5

Looks to me like they are all vertical cracks? In this case I’d say it’s a problem with the board not the paint. you could take it up with Blick but perhaps this is just an unlucky one-off. Such a shame as it’s a lovely painting.

Is the panel itself wood or hardboard?


(Sunny Avocado) #6

wood. Maybe I could take it up with Blick, hadn’t thought of that. There is a compliment painting I did at the same time that is also cracked. Vertically.


(Jacqueline Davis) #7

If all vertical it’s definitely a problem with the board. Strange since you use oil paint. I’d have expected this to be more likely with acrylic since they are thinned with water.

I once had a small batch of 12 x 12 ampersand panels arrive from Blick all damaged at the corners. They hadn’t been packed properly. I immediately photographed the panels out of the box and wrote a friendly letter to Blick with photos attached. They replaced them, no quibbles.
Probably helped by the fact that I buy practically all my art supplies from Blick and this was my first complaint. If they’d been little 6 x 6 panels I might not have bothered.

Might be worth contacting Blick. They may already be aware of the problem.


(Sunny Avocado) #8

Well, I did use water based gesso, 2 coats.

Me too! I had a string of wood cradled that were not square at all, very noticeably not square! They had me speak to a specialist because of their disbelief I suppose. I had to send them back to them but they fronted me a new batch of 25 pieces. The second set-at least half of them unusable! That’s when I gave up on the more inexpensive boards but I never expected this problem. I never would have seen the cracks but for getting an image to list online-that’s when I saw it.

I have not ever had a problem with ampersand boards.


(Jacqueline Davis) #9

Hmm. Could be the water based gesso then.

Does the gesso say it’s okay to use on bare wood? I wonder if they should be sized first before gessoing?


(Jacqueline Davis) #10

Sunny, I found this…

https://ampersandart.com/priming-with-oil-painting-grounds.php

Maybe also speak to Gamblin or Golden about sizing wood panels for oil painting. I’ve spoken to Gamblin before and found them very helpful.


(Annemiek Haralson) #11

I also have read to seal the wood first before applying gesso. That’s what I’ve been doing.


(Sunny Avocado) #12

That was incredibly helpful, thank you! I guess it is my fault then for not sealing the wood, I had thought the gesso was doing that along with giving me the proper base to work on.

Lesson learned but I hope none of the paintings I already sold did the same. :frowning:


(Randal Huiskens) #13

I would never tell anyone else what to do, but I I tried several new painting surfaces, boards, etc…and wood is always problematic, very delicate and prone to warping, cracking, moisture… I always go back to stretched canvas… I believe that is the gold standard for collectable art. Proven to last for hundreds of years, as opposed to these new painting surfaces that really don’t have hundreds of years of success… but that’s just my opinion.


(Randal Huiskens) #14

One other thing… what if someone had bought these works for a substantial sum and this happened? Your good name is at stake… if you are selling collectable artwork on unproven mediums, your whole career is at stake. Once again, I am not telling anyone else what to do, but I advocate sticking to proven mediums that allow you to guarantee hundreds of years of value.


(Jens Ole Olsen) #15

What gesso do you use ? I never used acrylic gesso untill lately and I prefere to make it myself.
I use a commercial binder for artistic use recommended by my supplier and make a paste with as little water as possible, then begin with adding the same amount of binder, take a sample on plastic and see if it maybe should have some more binder.


(Sunny Avocado) #16

I used liquitex gesso. Two coats a light sand in between. I have a lot of wood boards here to use up but I think I will try the wood sealer and get some oil gesso first.


(Jacqueline Davis) #17

Sunny on that subject I actually wrote to Gamblin a few weeks ago. For oil painting they recommend this oil painting ground, which can be used on both boards and stretched canvas.

There is a useful video on how to apply it.

Oil Painting Ground application


(Sunny Avocado) #18

Thanks Jacqueline! I will try that for sure!


(J. Dunster) #19

It’s ironic because I have the opposite experience. Stretched canvas tends to weaken and slump on the stretchers, gets punctured…no thanks! I like panels because of their durability, and art conservators definitely recommend rigid supports.

I think canvas glued to wood (or rigid support, like Gatorboard) is a good compromise, because you still get that glorious canvasy texture, but the board isn’t vulnerable to punctures the way stretched canvas is.

The only time I’d consider using stretched canvas these days is if I was painting something very large that was too heavy with a wooden panel.

Found a link with an interview with the guy who ran AMIEN (who sadly, has since passed away), the art conservation forum. : Painting: You’re Doing it Wrong
#5: “The number one thing you can do as a painter to help ensure the durability of your paintings is to paint on a rigid support, like a wooden panel. If you prefer the texture of canvas, you can mount it to a rigid support instead of stretching it. “A lot of people don’t like to hear that because it makes a very heavy support,” said Gottsegen. “But if you’re going to paint with oil paint, then [the canvas] ought to be stretched on a panel, not loose.”


(Jacqueline Davis) #20

I love the forthright title of the article “Painting; You’re Doing it Wrong” LOL.

An artist I just love - Haidee Jo Summers (she used to sell on here at one time) makes her own canvas boards.
There’s a really good demo here:
Making your own canvas board with Haidee Jo Summers

Looks incredibly untidy and slapdash to me but she’s a very successful artist in the UK so it seems to work for her.

Also I’m a bit of a purist with oil. I’m not keen on the idea of painting onto acrylic and particularly the idea of leaving an acrylic undercoat showing through?

All that being said, I love her work.