Ground – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Techniques and Materials Glossary

What is Ground?

Ground in art refers to the surface on which a painting or drawing is created. It is the foundation upon which the artist builds their work, providing a base layer that affects the overall appearance and longevity of the piece. Grounds can vary in composition, texture, and color, and are essential for creating a stable surface for the application of paint or other media.

Types of Grounds

There are several types of grounds that artists commonly use in their work. Some of the most popular include:

1. Gesso: Gesso is a traditional ground made from a mixture of chalk, gypsum, and glue. It provides a smooth, absorbent surface that is ideal for painting with acrylics or oils.

2. Acrylic Gesso: Acrylic gesso is a modern alternative to traditional gesso, made from acrylic polymers and calcium carbonate. It dries quickly and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, wood, and paper.

3. Pastel Ground: Pastel ground is a gritty, textured surface that is designed specifically for use with pastels. It provides a toothy surface that allows the pastel to adhere and blend easily.

4. Watercolor Ground: Watercolor ground is a transparent, absorbent surface that is used to prepare non-traditional surfaces for watercolor painting. It allows the watercolor to flow smoothly and evenly across the surface.

Application of Grounds

Grounds are typically applied to a surface before the artist begins their work. They can be applied with a brush, roller, or spray gun, depending on the type of ground being used. It is important to apply the ground evenly and allow it to dry completely before starting to paint or draw.

Grounds can also be used to create interesting textures and effects in a piece of art. For example, artists may apply gesso with a palette knife to create thick, impasto layers, or use pastel ground to create a rough, gritty surface for pastel drawings.

Importance of Grounds in Art

Grounds play a crucial role in the creation of a piece of art. They provide a stable surface for the application of paint or other media, ensuring that the artwork will last for years to come. Grounds also affect the appearance of the final piece, influencing the way colors interact and the overall texture of the work.

In addition, grounds can help to protect the surface of the support material, such as canvas or paper, from damage caused by the application of paint or other media. By providing a barrier between the support material and the paint, grounds help to prevent warping, discoloration, and other forms of deterioration.

Common Issues with Grounds

While grounds are essential for creating a successful piece of art, they can also present challenges for artists. Some common issues that may arise when working with grounds include:

1. Cracking: If the ground is applied too thickly or unevenly, it may crack as it dries. This can create unsightly lines and imperfections in the final piece.

2. Peeling: Poor adhesion between the ground and the support material can cause the ground to peel away from the surface, leading to flaking and loss of paint.

3. Staining: Some grounds may be prone to staining, especially when exposed to moisture or other environmental factors. This can affect the appearance of the artwork and may require additional layers of ground to cover up.

Tips for Working with Grounds

To avoid these common issues and create a successful piece of art, consider the following tips for working with grounds:

1. Prepare the surface: Before applying the ground, make sure the surface is clean, dry, and free of any dust or debris. This will help the ground adhere properly and prevent issues such as cracking or peeling.

2. Use thin layers: Apply the ground in thin, even layers to ensure smooth coverage and prevent cracking. Multiple thin layers are often better than one thick layer.

3. Experiment with textures: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of grounds and application techniques to create interesting textures and effects in your artwork.

4. Allow for drying time: Make sure to allow the ground to dry completely before starting to paint or draw on top of it. This will help prevent issues such as cracking or peeling.

In conclusion, grounds are an essential element of creating art, providing a stable foundation for the application of paint or other media. By understanding the different types of grounds available, how to apply them effectively, and how to avoid common issues, artists can create successful and long-lasting works of art.