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Art Encyclopedia - Ground

Art information > Art Encyclopedia > G > Ground

Ground
In art ground can have two meanings, one to do with painting and the other to with etching.

In painting the grounds is that substance ( eg gesso for tempera, white oil paint or acrylics for oils ) which is put over the support ( wood, canvas, cardboard etc. ) before the painting is begun. The ground has three main functions:

1 - To insulate the subsequent layers of paint from the support particularly of the latter is absorbent.
2 - To give a desired texture for the paint, for example, smooth, rough, brush-marked etc.
3 - To give a tone on which to paint.

In etching, the ground is an acid resistant substance ( usually resin plus bitumen, plus wax, all thinned with a volatile fluid such as benzine ). This is painted over the plate before drawing. Lines and dots are drawn through the ground, exposing the metals so that when the plates are immersed in acid, the design marks are bitten into the plate as ink retaining grooves and holes. Grounds are normally dark so that the etcher can see his lines appearing against the ground in the colour of the exposed plate but in sugar lift a transparent ground is used.





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