In the tradition of the craft of painting, I mix and apply my own primer (gesso) to canvas I buy in rolls and stretch myself. I use a mixture of calcium carbonate (chalk) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue, thinned to the right consistency with water and coloured with a little pigment for a pale cream ground.
Reasons? (Besides keeping the tradition alive and a certain DIY coolness):
- It is fun to be involved in the painting process right from the get-go. I create the total object.
- It is a bit cheaper.
- It allows me total control of the substrate; the colour, tooth, and absorbency of the ground all are huge factors in the final outcome for me.
- I find commercially-primed canvas too sterile white and smooth, and stifle creativity, since how I paint is sometimes more important than what I paint.
Some day I'll get unlazy and post some pix of the step-by-step. To me, using ready-primed canvas would be a bit like using some sort of MS template to "design" a website. After awhile, the world looks the same. It's part of what sets me apart from all the hacks and wannabes--that, the fact that I can actually draw. Painting should not be a lifestyle choice, but a total commitment.
Its part of my whole philosophy towards life, I guess. I am a cyclist, and not only can I fix my own flats, but I build my own wheels. You can either accept the spoon feeding society offers--which requires a lot less effort, but makes you dependent--or you can do your own thing. That takes observation, research and elbow-grease.
Go forth and do thou likewise.