MARINE AND COASTAL PAINTING Shipps and the sea have always been important to painters. The sea was a great and abiding sourse of inspiration to many painters. Marine painting continued to be a popular branch of art up to the end of nineteenth century, and still thriving today.
OIL PAINTING Traditional artists' canvas is made from linen, but the less expensive cotton fabric has gained popularity. The artist first prepares a wooden frame called a “stretcher" or "strainer." The difference between the first and second is that stretchers are slightly adjustable, while strainers are rigid and lack adjustable corner notches. The canvas then pulled across the wooden frame and tacked or stapled tightly to the back edge. The next step is for the artist to apply a ground (or size) to isolate the canvas from the acidic qualities of the paint. Traditionally, the canvas was coated with a layer of rabbit skin glue and primed with subsequent layers of finely ground chalk (or marble dust) and rabbit skin glue. Later the process was changed to a sizing of rabbit skin glue with subsequent layers of white priming (gypsum, chalk, barium oxide, titianium(IV) dioxide mixed with linseed oil). Modern gessos are made of titianium dioxide with an acrylic binder and are not "real" gessos in the true sense of the word. The artist might apply several layers of gesso, sanding each smooth after it has dried. Sanding the primed surface is important to roughen the generally slick surface so the subsequent layers of oils will properly adhere. It is possible to tone the gesso to a particular color, but most store-bought gesso is white. The gesso layer will tend to draw the oil paint into the porous surface, depending on the thickness of the gesso layer. Excessive or uneven gesso layers are sometimes visible in the surface of finished paintings as a change in the layer that's not from the paint.