Absorbent Ground

Updated: 2 days ago

A little while ago I mentioned on Instagram that I was trying to achieve a bit more of the effects that I get from paper, on canvas. One of the ways that I thought would help was by using Golden’s Absorbent Ground. It’s aimed at watercolourists who want to work on canvas, but equally works with fluid acrylics.

I put two coats of it on this already canvas, which I had previously gesso’d with normal gesso and painting an underpainting with fluid acrylics (only to realise I had placed the image too centrally and needed to move it).

So this is the result - quite an interesting effect. I used a stiff-ish brush and some fluid paints with water. It’s absorbed in a little and has dried to a rather matte finish. It will be interesting to see what layers on top of this does.


I decided to use the absorbent ground on a different painting in the mean time (a larger 91cm square one), using the similar process I mentioned above. The coating of it is really absorbent (unsurprisingly), and seems to soak in like a piece of paper would, no matter how many coats you use. It says that you can do a layer of medium over the whole thing to seal it, which I did (as one of the things I enjoy is being able to wipe off bits immediately if I've done it wrong).

However, the layer of medium didn't seem to provide a massive barrier. It was better, but not sealed. I realised I had to be super careful when I was painting, or else it would soak right in. It even had a similar effect at the end after having used an isolation coat, and then the varnish. Upshot it, it creates a very interesting effect, and seems less glossy than straight gesso+acrylic. I wonder how it would fare with thicker acrylic paints on top. Perhaps the soaking in would be reduced.

close up section of a green and yellow painting of bushes
Painting created with absorbent ground. See how the brushstrokes are quite prominent and chalky.

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