Turner, pencil drawing on gessoed paper
Katherine asked about the gessoed paper in a recent comment. I would love to offer a great description or demonstration about gessoing paper but to be honest this is the first time I have gessoed paper to use for oil painting. In college I did a lot of experimenting with various materials and supports, but by my last year I had settled on gessoed illustration board, which I really liked and which has held up perfectly after 20+ years by the way.
Anyway, this time around I did some google searches, read through my art materials books and talked to other artists who work on paper. After my head spun around counter clockwise 35 times due to the conflicting information and overwhelming amount of process involved, I decided to keep it simple. I just wanted to do some studies on paper, a surface that would be similar to the prepped panels I normally work on, easy to store, and relatively inexpensive.
So this is what I did: I had a pad of 140lb cold press watercolor paper on hand, so I cut each piece in half and taped them down to my work table. I applied three coats of gesso (it dries very quickly), then pulled off the tape and applied three coats to the other side. The paper was still wrinkled (I will use 300lb paper next time) and so I put a piece of release paper on the surface and ironed both sides. This worked pretty well to flatten the paper and so I taped each piece down to a scrap piece of hardboard so that I could work on a firm surface as well as easily move them from my easel to the drying shelf etc.
I have since found some more recommendations concerning paper. I have a few pieces of this on order and will try it next.
Also, when I was in Vermont, one of the other residents introduced me to the wonders of (Gamblin) PVA Size. She said that could be used to size regular drawing paper, which could then be painted on, even with oil. She used it for her studies often. I tried it while I was there and at first the paper wrinkled like crazy. But the next day it was perfectly flat and so I used it for one of the figures that I did there. I have been meaning to use the sizing again, and now that I have said this maybe I will feel motivated to pull out the bottle and try it again. Not sure how archival working like this is, but really these are just studies and experiments so I am not going to think about the next 400 years for now.
Well, I can't imagine that I have been very helpful here at all! Plenty of you must know much more about gessoing paper than I do so feel free to leave a comment and offer all of us a few more tips. Google searches are good too; "gessoing paper" yielded the most info for me.
Oh and by the way, I use Utrecht brand, acrylic Gesso. Probably not the best gesso ever, in fact it's not even authentic gesso, nor is it oil based which many think should be used when painting with oils (again, my head is spinning), but I like its surface and Utrecht has been my first choice ever since college.