Stretched Canvas vs Wood Panels

One thing I’ve learned in my many years of painting is that “the best way” to do something is a hard term to use. There are so many ways to express yourself in paint, that only you can decide what’s “best” for you.

What I can say however, is what’s best for the way I work, and my “best surface” to paint on is definitely wood panels.

Why do I prefer them over the traditional stretched canvas?

The surface texture; you are the master of your texture from eggshell smooth to gritty rough, depending on how you prime it. I like a random brushstroke finish, which I achieve with a large brush. I’ve illustrated this process in the video below. Yes, you can purchase canvas in varying degrees of roughness, but I can decide on the fly how I want the surface for a painting to be and create it without leaving the studio.

Support structure; a panel is a very solid surface, it will stand up to techniques like heavy palette knife scrapping and sanding, which I like to do to diffuse dry areas or take down a heavy buildup. A panel stores safely and unfazed while stretched canvases can get dented and even wavy while being stored. The type of wood I use is 1/4″ MDF, which is a medium density fiber board. It has no grain like plywood, it is wood fibers fused together with adhesive to form a very sturdy sheet.

You can purchase panels from art supply stores of buy sheets from home improvement centers, but you will need a saw to cut it because the sheets are large. Most places will cut it for a price. It would be worth buying a saw to do it yourself if you like the surface.

Check out my video on priming wood panels here.

4 Replies to “Stretched Canvas vs Wood Panels”

  1. I’ll have to try the mdf sometime but I have Masonite I need to use first 🙂 thanks for the informative video, Diane!
    Hope you and John are well!
    Jean

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  2. You should really consider putting a primer on before the gesso, something like GAC100 But pva and rsg is also used. Golden recommends at least two coats to prevent the oil reaching the board and acid in the board affecting the gesso. You can google their blog post for their tests if you are curious.

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