Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Making and Prepping Panels

The support for my paintings is made from hardboard I get at the lumberyard.  I like the stiff, smooth supports for use with the palette knives for my paintings.  Canvas "gives" too much.  Canvas attached to hardboard has too much of a "drag".  Plain hardboard is "just right" for me.  I typically buy the 4' x 4' or 2' x 4' panels because they are much easier to handle unless I am working on a larger painting.  Then I will buy the 4' x 8' panels.  I mark the panels with a pencil and rulers or yardstick for the sizes I want to make.  I then cut the panels with a circular saw.  I usually cut the panels outside on the deck unless the weather is too cold or too rainy.  

This is a panel I have already prepped and tinted that I decided to cut down into smaller pieces.

After the panels are cut, I paint the back side with two coats of Liquitex acrylic gesso. I buy the gesso by the gallon.  I like Liquitex because it is a good consistency that flows nicely and offers good coverage.  I dip my brush in water now and then but overall the gesso doesn't need any thinning.  I also seal the edges of the panels.

I sand the front side of the panels to give them a little "tooth" and to knock off the rough edges on the sides.  I want the palette knife to be able to flow off the edge, NOT get hung up on a rough edge that sticks up.  Again, I typically do the sanding outside on the deck unless the weather is too cold or rainy.
After I have sanded the fronts of the panels, I seal them with Golden Medium GAC-100.

GAC-100 seals the wood base from the oil paints and prevents anything from bleeding through to the oil painting and distorting the colors.

After the panels have been sealed with the GAC 100, I apply two coats of gesso to the front and sides of the panels.  
I may sand again lightly in between each coat.  
The last coat of gesso is applied to the front of the panels.
After the panels are completely sealed and gessod, I tint the front with an acrylic Napthol Crimson paint.  
I like the red crimson color as my base because it seems to work well with my four season, forest paintings.  The red sparkles against greens in summer and looks like red cardinals in the forest in winter.  The red tint base is a middle value so dark values and light values pop against it.  

I generally start my paintings with the dark values so the middle value red base works well.
I set the panels to dry in milk crate type storage units.
Then the panels are ready to use! 

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  1. Hi Charlene, is the hardboard surface similar to a Masonite, which has a textured back and smoothie front? Thanks much for the info.

  2. Hi, Laura~

    Yes, the smooth hardboard is similar to Masonite. I am not sure that the brand, Masonite, is even being made anymore. The company was bought out and makes doors now. I haven't seen the Masonite brand of hardboard for several years. Masonite has the screen pattern on one side whereas the hardboard is smooth on both sides.

    Let me know if you have a source of the Masonite. The screen pattern has some interesting uses but I can't find it anymore.