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Old 05-11-09, 12:43 AM
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KHart KHart is offline
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Default Boards, panels, and other wood surfaces

Hello. Wondering if any of you have tried other hard surfaces beside hardboard? I have had great success - and enjoy the finish - of using inexpensive Luan board. It is a thin, easy to cut [I cut it with a stanley knife] and does not need much sanding. I actually like some of the wood grain and also like the look of NOT having it sanded to a pure smooth surface. Just a little rough, but not too much. In any case, if you do the gesso on one side and then either the same - or a watered down latex paint - on the other side, it does not warp in one direction. It's excellent to then be able to place the finished painting into a frame much as one would do with a canvas board panel. The prepared luan panel actually has a nice, subtle tooth to it and I like that it sometimes pulls the paint from the brush... good for fine lines. Just thought I'd share as I'm sure there might be others out there looking for ways to save on panels. So far, panels are stable and the tempera paint does seem to love the surface. Thanks, Kevin
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Old 08-11-09, 03:47 PM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
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Hi Kevin,
I've painted on fine grained plywood boards in the past. The weren't luan ply, I think, but something else, that I bought in Italy. I did like the tooth and their light weight. However, I had problems a few years after painting on them with the grain opening up slightly in a few areas. In dark passages it was a bit disconcerting. I'm sure if I'd covered the board with fabric, as described in the old literature, I would not have had that issue. Perhaps keep that in mind as you use them. Of course, if you keep a "coarse" or brushy gesso surface, it may not be a problem.
Regards,
Dennis
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Old 08-11-09, 04:22 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Somewhere I ran across info that painting on plywood was bad news. I can't recall where, but it exactly described my own experience with it -- after a time the grain sort of splits up in little ridges all over the painting. This happened even with high quality plywoods. If luan is a kind of plywood, I'd be cautious about it.
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Old 08-11-09, 08:06 PM
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KHart KHart is offline
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Alessandra and Dennis, the first et I did was in 07 and it was done on luan [a thin sort of plywood] and ... so far... no issues. As Dennis hints, it could be because I do prefer a coarse brushy gesso surface and this may be why it works for me. So, the first et painting is now going on 3 years but maybe it will take another 3 before I see any problems, don't know. I just thought I would share this possible option because there must be a great many artists, like myself, just getting into egg tempera and trying to save $$ where they can. I think it is important to treat BOTH SIDES of the luan either with gesso on both sides or gesso on the "business side" and thinned down white latex flat wall paint on the other. If not, severe bowing of the panel will occur. I'd love to hear more about experiments by others in both surfaces and pigments. Thank you. Kevin
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Old 09-11-09, 04:20 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Lauan is not a bad choice for painting on, and tends to be fairly cheap, but like most mahogany it has a relatively high acid content, and a tendency to warp easily when it shrinks.

Not all plywood is made the same way. Wood species are not generic, and they tend to behave very differently under the same conditions. Some species have a higher shinkage ratio than others. Even the better quality woods can be poorly cut which can lead to surface problems. Don't just pull something off the shelf because it's convenient. Know what you're buying, and look for high grade ("CAA") slip-matched panels.

Here's a good article on what can cause veneer cracking problems:
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wood/wpn/venchk.htm

Some hardwoods, like red maple, are hard and dense and not as receptive to paint or glue as others. Aspen or poplar tend to hold glue and paint very well without splitting.
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Old 19-11-09, 10:38 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Hello Khart

As Dennis notes, covering with fabric is important if you don't want the grain of the plywood to eventually telegraph through and split the gesso. I've seen several temperas done on plywood where the grain shows through, and just recently I saw a painting that was perhaps 20 or 30 years old on plywood with the grain not only telegraphing through, but cracking and splitting the gesso. It will eventually destroy the painting I think. Applying some linen or canvas with rabbit skin glue (as they did in the old days with wood panels, for the same reason) would address the problem. I haven't tried Luan, but I have worked with cabinet grade birch plywood covered with linen and gesso, and the surface was beautiful and seemed very stable.

Koo
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Old 20-11-09, 02:03 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koo Schadler View Post
...and just recently I saw a painting that was perhaps 20 or 30 years old on plywood with the grain not only telegraphing through, but cracking and splitting the gesso...
I just want to repeat for emphasis that this happened because the artist used plywood made from the wrong type of wood. Even solid panels can split or check if they are not woods that react well to relative humidity changes, or to glues and paint on their surface, or cut incorrectly. Composite panels behave better under these conditions, but can have other problems.
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Old 20-11-09, 07:24 PM
spocklady
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Could you use a glue that wasn't animal based to glue linen/fabric onto the boards?
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Old 21-11-09, 10:21 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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David, I understand that woods have different natures, and some are better suited than others for panel use - but would you say that all woods should ideally be covered with linen to protect the gesso, or do you feel that some woods are sufficiently stable and, if prepared properly, don't need linen between them and the gesso? Does anyone know if all the solid wood panels from the Renaissance were covered with linen, or did they also put gesso directly on top of the wood, and if so is there a difference in how the two kinds of panels fared? I thought that ideally all wood panels (solid or veneers, as in plywood) should be covered with fabric to protect the gesso from the grain and movement of the wood, and that this was standard practice in the days of yore - but maybe not?
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Old 22-11-09, 02:54 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Fabric support (in my opinion) should not be required for some wood species, but I won't go so far to say it's an absolute condition. If you plan on using fabric anyway, then you might as well use a type of wood that requires it, since the better species and preparation of those that don't need it tend to be more expensive. It's reasonable to assume that if the ground sat on canvas rather than bear wood it might be easier to care for, should it need that.

Cennini wrote about applying cloth to a panel, even after making sure it's the best wood possible, so it's certainly a historical practice. I can't speak about how common it was.

At this site there are listings of tempera on canvas on wood, tempera on gesso ground, and tempera on wood. Some of those on canvas don't necessarily appear better than others - it's hard to tell. It also would depend on the sort of care they received over time.
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