Surface smoothness


(Diane) #1

Hello there! I am starting a new painting and I toned the background gray. Although I have a few worries about this I forged ahead and drew out the guide to paint by. After doing this I began to wonder about the smoothness of my surface. In applying the gray I sanded after 6 and 7 coats. I didn’t have an orbital sander so I just sanded by hand. On looking more carefully unfortunately after 25 hours of sketching, I think the surface is too rough and I may not be happy with the end results. This painting is 30 X 40 and will take a long time so I don’t want to start off unhappy. What do you think? Here are a few photos of the light raking off the surface.


(Anthony Waichulis) #2

I have a few thoughts on this Diane. I’m painting right now but I’ll get to this later today. :smiley:


(Anthony Waichulis) #3

Hi Diane! Sorry for the delay but I was busy trying to wrap up a new painting.

So—my thoughts on this can be summed up quite simply as “keep your surface as rough as you can stand it.”. Many people that see my finished works tend to mention how smooth the surface is. They often assume, by this finish, that my painting surface starts out very smooth—and to a degree it does–but just not as smooth as they think.

I find that I need some tooth to keep my early paint handling as close to a dry media experience as possible. I have explained this concept to students by asking them which surface do you feel might leave the artist in greater control of the paint (generally speaking)—a rough linen… or a smooth Plexiglas. For me it would be the former hands down. Now this doesn’t mean that I aim for a rough linen texture—but rather that I leave enough texture to make early paint handling as conducive to my combined past drawing/painting experience as possible. My subsequent layers of paint application will diminish the tooth during my process and leave me with the smooth surface that people have come to associate with my efforts.

Here’s a close-up of one of my sanded panels in raking light:


(Diane) #4

Thank you so much Anthony. I think this panel will work after all. It helped seeing your panel in light. Mine is probably not as consistent in texture but it does have tooth to it. BTW I just saw your painting Daredevil on Facebook. Wow!


(Anthony Waichulis) #5

Awesome Diane—Thank you! I am going to sand a new panel today and I will take before and after photos to share here.


(Anthony Waichulis) #6

Here’s a shot from today’s sanding Diane.


(Diane) #7

Thank you for posting this. I think mine lies in between the two textures. I do think mine is rough enough to show a small bit of texture even after painting. I started another painting until I could decide what to do. I think I need to buy a sander for the next one or go ahead and sand this and redraw. Its so great to have someone to ask. Thanks.


(Anthony Waichulis) #8

My pleasure Diane! Keep me posted— :slight_smile:


(Sigrid Junold Käppeler) #9

i have a question about the initial layer… i prepared a wooden panel with multiple coats of gesso and sanded it down to a very smooth finish. i started off sanding with a block and emery paper, tried an orbital sander (not a very good one) and then got really excellent results with 1200 grade wet sandpaper. the result is super smooth finish… but maybe too smooth :sob:
i wanted to have an orange-toned ground. so, after transferring the drawing with graphite to the panel, i put on a thin acrylic layer (the only reason i used acrylic was because i did not want to wait for an oil layer to dry)
it feels weird brushing oil paint on to this, it slides all over the place. even over a rubbed-off layer of lean medium, the oil paint is not behaving :roll_eyes:
is the surface too smooth?! is it normal for the first thin oil layer to be difficult to apply? shall i just soldier on or is there something i can do to make it easier? any suggestions gratefully received…


(Sigrid Junold Käppeler) #10

well, this issue seems to have solved itself overnight :slight_smile: i had applied a thin layer of lean medium to the surface and rubbed most off again. the paint was sliding around on this, even though i had really rubbed the surface thoroughly, prompting my call for help… but today, the surface was grippy and not slippy :dancing_women:

the moral of the story being: sleep on it!


(Anthony Waichulis) #11

As I have stated in the past, having a smooth finish in the end does not mean that it is needed it in the beginning (in my experience at least–it is actually quite the opposite.) Unless the surface has some tooth to be allow the paint to feel “grippy” as you state—it will often slide around more than most would like and seem to become increasingly unmanageable as more is often added to compensate.

:smile: