When I first learned about oil grounds, I was immediately fascinated with the material. There's no comparison between the acrylic "gesso" grounds and the surface of an oil ground. But even with oil grounds, I have found a startling difference between titanium white grounds and lead white grounds. For me, titanium grounds have a high absorbency that catches the paint and sucks it in, while lead has a buttery type of surface that allows the paint to glide. I've tried many varieties of commercially prepared oil ground, but was always disappointed by not being able to order lead and a custom tone of light gray (which I prefer).
I am very familiar with preparing my own grounds and my previous practice was to prepare my own lead primed grounds. I'm glad I know how to prepare my own grounds, but this process is time consuming, very messy and difficult to get right all the time. Nevertheless, I am an artist that believes in the importance of materials. I believe the same philosophy applies to chefs: no matter how good of a chef you are, you can't make a good meal out of bad ingredients.
So I reached out to Mr. Angel De La Cruz via email to inquire about getting a lead primed, gray toned, oil ground. Angel wrote back to me very promptly and said he actually had a roll in stock that matched my specifications. I was very excited, but a little nervous. Would the gray be the right value? I didn't want something too dark or too light. The tone of gray ended up being spot on, not too dark or too light. The linen is double primed also which creates a smooth surface, but still has the tooth of the fabric-- perfect for portrait work. I've included some photos below, but it's difficult to capture the quality of this canvas in photos. I know the canvas is also very well sized because none of the oil ground has seeped through to the back of the canvas. For anyone who doesn't know about oil grounds: you need to have a size (a glue) to act as a barrier so that the oil ground won't reach the linen or canvas because that can cause degradation over time.
It's very important to keep these traditional artistic practices alive which is why I only want to support companies that make great quality materials. Angel and Ben are wonderful to do business with and I'm so happy that I found them. I want to thank companies like A E Art Canvas Priming, Natural Pigments and Rosemary and Co for keeping these traditions alive.
The roll that I ordered is: #13 Linen, 57"X 6 Yds, DP Gray Lead. I don't want to list the price in case their prices change, but I can tell you that it was very reasonable considering what most other companies charge for oil grounds. I don't think that they have a website (which is cooler in my book) but you can contact Angel and his son, Ben, at the address and email below:
A E Art Canvas Priming
605 East 132nd Street
Bronx NY 10454