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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > April 19 > Primers and coloured grounds \

Primers and coloured grounds \

In the first of his new three-part series Graham Webber discusses the importance of choosing the right primers and grounds for your style of oil painting

Graham Webber

Beyond Cymbeline, oil, 141⁄4x153⁄4in (36x40cm).

The subtle warm coloured ground balances the blue greys and provides warmth and life to an otherwise grey painting. Titanium white, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna were the only colours used in this painting

Priming a surface is an important part of oil painting. By creating a barrier between the surface and the paint layer you can minimise any negative effect they may have on each other. Applied directly to unprotected canvas, oil paint can eventually rot the surface, leading to instability, flaking and degradation. If used on board and natural wood panels, the acids in the wood and the binders can cause unwanted effects in the oil paint, such as discolouration.

It is important to choose the right primer for your style of painting, as a primer has two principal roles: as a protective barrier and an effect on the way paint handles on the surface. An absorbent primer with tooth will allow for quick-drying textured work, which sinks into the surface, whereas a smoother resistant surface allows paint to be moved around, is slick and paint can be wiped away without leaving a mark.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the April issue, packed with practical articles and demonstrations designed to inspire artists of all levels to develop their skills in all media. Our top artist-contributors this month include Hazel Soan, who suggests techniques for creating light and shade in your watercolours, Ian Sidaway who encourages you to paint a self-portrait, and Paul Talbot-Greaves who shows how to paint colourful boats in three easy stages in acrylics. Practise your skills as you learn how to loosen up and be more expressive in your drawings, use coloured pencils to create a found still life, simplify a busy harbour scene to create a composition full of light and colour, and achieve clean colours in your acrylic landscapes. This issue we also welcome back Geoff Hunt, who begins a new series documenting the results of his painting trips. Plus Roger Dellar offers tips on how to secure an artist-in-residence position and Mark David Hatwood explains how to reach potential buyers by working with partners. Enjoy trying new ideas in your own work with help from this month's artists and tutors.