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A foundation layer used to prepare a support material for the application of media. Grounds provide a smooth, uniform, and nonporous surface. They can also act as a separating and stabilizing layer to minimize environmental distortions or support deterioration due to reactions with the paint.

For artist paintings, grounds typically fall into these categories.

For gilding, Bole is used as a colored ground or priming layer. Bole is typically composed of a red or brown clay. Colored grounds have also been used for Metal point drawings and paintings made with Gouache, Pastel, Charcoal, and Crayon.

For printmaking, the ground layer is a dark, acid-resistant coating containing Wax, Tallow, Asphalt, and/or Natural resin.

Synonyms and Related Terms

primer; gesso; preparación (Esp.); aparejo (Esp.); préparation (Fr.); fond (Fr.); camada preparatória (Port.); preparação (Port.)

Resources and Citations

  • J.Stephenson, "Ground" The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc. New York, 1996.
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)