Making Chalk Grounds is probably one of the most difficult processes to learn, because so many things can affect the outcome of a chalk ground (temperature, humidity, type of chalk, type of glue, etc.) While there are many approaches to making a chalk grounds, here is a simple approach that can be altered as needed.
The first thing to consider is that any chalk ground has to be applied onto a rigid surface. Chalk Grounds have a tendency to be brittle and therefore would crack and separate from a flexible ground. The best rigid surface would be a wooden panel. In order to avoid uneven moisture absorption by the wood, the panel has to first be sized front back and side with a natural glue size (rabbit or hide glue).
See recipe below. Here are our ingredients for the best Chalk Ground Gesso:
Usually two layers are enough to seal the wood effectively.
At this point it is advisable to adhere a piece of fabric (thin muslin sheeting) to the panel to help stabilize the ground and to protect it from joints in the panel that might show in the gesso.
The fabric can be adhered to the panel by painting down a thin layer of glue-solution to the front of the panel and soaking the fabric in the glue solution. Once the fabric is stretched over the front of the panel, allow the glue to dry thoroughly before trimming off the excess fabric from the edges. The left over glue-size then gets used for the chalk ground.
Step 2: Ingredients
Step 3: Application Directions
Note: When applying layers of ground, brushstrokes should be applied in one direction for every coat.
Reapply subsequent layers in a perpendicular direction to the previous application.
Whites should be chosen according to desired brightness and opacity. Titanium white is very bright and covers in about two layers, whereas zinc white has an off white hue and requires four to five layers to cover. To make colored grounds, try using some of our earth pigments, to achieve traditional venetian red or ocher tinted grounds. Simply substitute the white pigment proportion from the above recipe.