Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making Painting Panels

In the interest of economy, many artist make their own panels on which to paint. I have wanted to do some larger works, and large canvasses or pre-made panels can be quite expensive, so I thought this was a good time to try making my own. Please note my furry little helper in the background. He just had a bath, and I think he is still mad at me.
I am following instructions given by master painter and all around nice guy, Stapleton Kearns. He is a fabulous painter and instructor, and I'm going to take a painting workshop with him in a few weeks. Can't wait.
Back to the panels. I began by purchasing a 4x8 piece of hardboard. They used to call it Masonite.
The guy at the lumber yard was happy to cut it into smaller pieces for me. These are right now 18" x 48". Since I love my fingers, I will let Steve do the final cut to make them 18x24. That is the size I wanted for this batch, though of course I could cut them into any size at all.
First order of business it to prime the front. Here's a shot of the things I'll need.

I am using an oil alkyd primer. Many canvasses and pre-made panels are primed with an acrylic, but I like the oil base. I think it makes a much better painting surface. The small roller is to apply the primer. It will leave a smooth, slightly pebbled surface that works well. And mineral spirits to thin and clean the roller. This particular brand of primer, Benjamin Moore, is just the right consistency, so I don't really need to thin it down any further.

And now, I just need to roll the surface, being careful not to leave any edge marks.
The roller has tapered ends, so works well. I roll lengthwise on the panels, and then will let them dry for a couple of hours. It's nice and sunny today, so it won't take long.

Now the first coat is all done. When they've dried for an hour or so, I will roll again the other direction. A very light sanding will finish the front. You might be able to see that the panels look like they're curling up a little. They are. That's just because of painting one side, and not the back. When the front is finished, I will
paint the back with some leftover housepaint to seal that surface. This prevents moisture from
getting into the panel, and also takes care of any slight warping. Goodness knows we have lots of leftover housepaint around here. Doesn't matter much what color it is. Usually, I would cut these into their final size before priming, but since I am only making one more cut, I went ahead and primed these as is. I will get 10 18x24 panels for the cost of one good canvas that size.
That's it! Priming is all done, and Tucker smells lots better!

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