Sacred Grounds -the foundations of art

The elevator stopped with a jolt.

Ground floor…or so I thought. The door opened and the scene before me didn’t register for a moment. I wanted to go the front desk of the hotel that I was staying at in Germany, but that was not what had appeared before me.

Funny how something as simple as an elevator could be so confusing in another language. Apparently the ground floor in Germany isn’t the same as in America. Who knew? I punched another button….choice number two…and reached my desired location.

How often do we start off making the wrong choice?

-in life…

-in art….

We choose what we think will get us to where we want to go, yet more often than we care to admit, it is the second choice that actually gets us there.

Choosing to ground your life…and your art, will set you up for success.

In life, knowing where your center is, the foundation of who you are and how you were created, will put into perspective everything that comes after. Making that connection keeps you rooted in who you are and filters out all else that can derail you from your purpose.

Our spiritual lives and rooting them to truth, grounds us in a way that will help everything else that we seek to accomplish, stick. It will allow us to build upon that foundation, fusing purpose and passion.

Art is no different

Without the proper foundation, things can lift, peel, absorb, and generally create an undesirable effect. The Unexpected! (like our lives sometimes, yes?)

In art, a GROUND is a primer, or the background surface on which you paint, or create other processes. It is what protects the substrate from the process you intend to use, keeping the components from damaging the integrity of the substrate.

When you purchase canvas, it is always coated in gesso (unless of course you buy it unprimed). This will allow the paint, either acrylic or oil, to stick permanently to the substrate.

If you are wanting to use watercolor on a canvas, you would need to use something called an absorbent ground. If you tried to watercolor on top of a regular gesso meant for acrylics, the paint would just roll around, and you would not get the desired watercolor effect you are looking for. Watercolor needs an absorbent surface to create its magic.

This is not to say that you can’t appreciate the effects that can be achieved on an unprimed surface. Plain paper, mixed media paper and water color paper are all virtually naked surfaces. But. If you tried to do a heavy collage on a piece of printer paper, you most likely would not be happy with the result. So keeping your intended purpose consistent with the components is important.

Speaking of heavy collage- with the emergence and popularity of mixed media art, several other “GROUNDS” have come front and center, such as texture grounds.  These are typically rooted in an acrylic medium base. Sand, mica, gel beads, and modeling paste are just a few of the products that mixed media artist use to create texture and interest to their work.

When employed and allowed to dry, the paint or processes used to cover the ground take on an entirely new effect and creates excitement within a project that might otherwise be flat or uninteresting. I’ve even used drywall mud to create peaks and valleys on a canvas and sometimes will press it through a stencil for a much for controlled impression.

However you choose to use grounds in your creating is up to you.


Glue an unexpected item to your page and cover it with gesso to make it a part of the page itself, then see where it takes you. This is how innovation is found, by stepping outside the box and taking a chance.

As in life and art, grounding is an important consideration. It is the undercoat to your future. It is what everything is built upon, and what keeps the undesirable outside forces from harming your surface.

It can



and improve

Consider what is under your surface today. GROUND your efforts in truth and a firm foundation.

And love what comes from it!


~Creative is who God is. It is who we are too – His breath, His being, in us. Would you like to explore that creative side? I am the resident artist on Creative Faith –discovering the art you were born to create. There we explore what it means to be creative in many areas of life. I would love for you to come and find the artist hidden within you.

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