how to choose a painting surface
There are a wide variety of surface choices to use for painting art. First choose between the two most popular choices – canvas or wood. While these are the most common, there are other more unusual choices such as plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, leather, paper, vinyl and cardboard.
canvas vs wood
Canvas comes in cotton duct or linen, while wood choices range from hardboard to panel. Both are fine for painting, but how do we choose what is right for us and our work?
∙ It is lightweight, especially helpful if painting in large sizes.
∙ Canvas has a wonderful absorbency and woven texture if that suits your style.
∙ It can be used stretched over wooden stretcher bars for a tight bounce, or left unstretched to paint on it pinned up on a wall or flat on a floor.
The canvas when stretched on stretchers will droop if you sand or pour, and therefore needs to be propped up underneath for these techniques. Also, it can’t be easily moved if it needs to dry on a level place for a long time. If you like to sand the painted surface, or pour acrylic mediums over it, then wood is a better choice because it provides a rigid level surface.
∙ As mentioned above, wood panel is sturdy and rigid. This makes it easy to transport and handle. A rigid surface is best for sanding and pouring techniques.
∙ Wood can cost less then stretched canvas. Canvas stretcher bars are wood, but made for reuse which include means to put together and take apart, and are therefore costly. Instead of stretcher bars and canvas, a local carpenter or wood worker can make several wood panels at a time, with cost savings to the artist. Carpenters will generally charge per hour plus cost of materials, and you can get these direct from them. Purchasing stretcher bars and canvas from a retailer have extra added retailer costs that are added onto the final price.
∙ Wood panels can be made with different woods and braced to minimize warping.
∙ They are more sturdy then canvas. This means they will last longer than canvas given similar environmental circumstances.
∙ If you want to paint over an old painting on wood panel, it is easily remedied by sanding off any old texture and paint. I don’t recommend repainting over old paintings on canvas. With stretched canvas it is difficult to properly sand the texture off, and canvas isn’t as strong as wood panel for the added weight when applying extra layers.
∙ Wood panels can be heavy especially when working with large size panels.
Wood panels require sealing and other steps to best prepare wood for painting.
CANVAS covered WOOD PANEL
You can also combine wood with canvas, by gluing the canvas directly onto a wood panel. This way you get the strong wood support, along with the canvas weave texture. You can also paint on loose unstretched canvas, then later when your painting is finished, adhere the canvas onto wood panel.
Plastic is a bold new choice for use as a painting surface.
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