Rublev Lead Oil Paste Ground. A product review revisit.


Well-known member
I'm fond of lead grounds for my oil paintings, but once you start working on anything other than small the cost starts to quickly go up and the continued supply of lead white is not absolutely certain, so I've had the desire rather not use up my stock on just the priming.
Tins of lead ground made for the purpose can be cheaper. A drawback however is that being in New Zealand, transport of the solvents they often contain, by air are verboten.

Rublev Colours to the rescue perhaps. They make Lead oil paste Ground primer with instructions to add your own oily thinner for two layers. The primer is a lean mix of lead white, titanium white, and calcium carbonate. If the added oil is a small amount of stand oil the primer doesn't yellow very much upon drying. The dried result is very good. I can't fault it. Its a great surface and whiter than traditional lead and chalk grounds.

However con il tempo, there are issues for me. One is sanding. I don't always require an absolutely smooth surface, but I do want the harsh peaks and large knots in canvas to be gone or at least be much flatter. I'm not going to dry sand with lead, and wet sanding is still a problem as the surface needs cleaning afterwards. This issue will be with any lead ground.

Second problem is the drying. I find the product very slow drying for a primer and it needs two or three layers for perfect coverage. As its a large portion titanium white (and thus softer than straight lead white.) I thought the addition of Liquin fine detail to the oily thinner might speed along the drying while still being flexible. ( a sample, pre-aged tested well.) In three days a layer was dry. BUT, though this worked very well, I judged working for long in my small studio for these periods unwise for good health as the odor was quite toxic. I don't know why, but it seemed worse than straight liquin. Though I am reminded in typing this that Winsor and Newton's alkyd ground also smells dreadful. (though I'm sure it dries faster than three days.) Other solution tried was clear acrylic gesso primer first, then Rublev ground. Then well, why not white gesso underneath? Then, well I most often already tone the canvas afterwards, so why don't I just skip to mixing a little lead in this for strength, surface, and so forth instead of the Rublev, and just add more layers of acrylic ground first?

Third problem; despite the slow drying, it will still dry in the tin so I've had to remove the usable remainder into an large empty tube.

Final judgement FOR ME is that it's more trouble than I'm willing to deal with. Others might feel differently. I've since found that if it's a toned effect I want, then this product will dry quite fast when mixed with raw umber. This wouldn't remove the sanding issue if I was using it this way as a first ground however, and anyway I like the white glow layer brightening from underneath. I shan't be replacing my tin with another.