Painters use a lot of surfaces to paint their fine art masterpieces. Canvas stitched with wood stretcher bars has been used for a long time and wood panels are even more primitive than that. Wood is stronger, thus has more preserving powers that canvas or linen. There are contemporary painting styles like that of Jackson Pollock which requires pouring paints or some other collage-style painting which can benefit from using a tough and resistant surface like wood instead of canvas. By the way, Pollock did not use wood for his modern renditions.
To make the artwork last-long and hopefully outlive the artist’s lifespan, preparation of artist support is necessary. It is really important to seal and prime the wooden panels before they are painted in order to block the moisture from surfacing and damaging the paint-work.
So, once you have got your hands on a perfect wooden panel for your next artistic endeavor, there are two things that need to be done and done right: seal the wooden panel to keep out moisture, and then prime it to augment adhesion the wood panel and the paint.
The Best Place to Buy Wood Panels
You can make wood panels on your own according to your specification if you have woodworking machinery. On the other side, you can buy commercially processed wood panels from art stores or from virtual art supplies shops. Ampersand is a trusted name among artists that properly seals and primes wood panels that are known as Gessobord. Other online stores like Dick Blick offers economical options. There are other types of panels that come with cradled sides that adds sufficient depths to the panel. Then there are some that come with coatings (like gesso or some other primers).
One special kind of wood panels that are quickly getting a great reception from artists is the Nancy Reyner Custom Artist Panels. They are extremely light and are almost a steal when they are compared with the prices of other companies’ panels.
Usually, there are two major issues with commercially-produced wood panels. They come in specific standard sizes measuring a maximum of around 40” in length per side. There are not many options if you want something above that number or in a specification that is not marketed by most manufacturers. Many companies endorse custom panels but they take around six months to build and ship your custom boards to you. Hardboard is widely-used by manufacturers which get significantly heavy when it is cut in large sizes for painting panels.o
Significance of Preparing A Wood Panel
Wood fibers can rot and damage seriously if there are some acidic components in the paint. This makes sealing the panel before painting very important. Most acrylic paints do not pose such a threat to the fiber of the wood but you can stop Support Induced Discoloration (SID) by sealing a wood panel before using acrylics on it. It is because SID is specifically related to acrylic products. If you use these paints without properly sealing the wood, it can cause yellowish discoloration on light colors or on a simple acrylic layer because of the reactive impurities present in it.
It does not matter what kind of painting medium you want to employ, sealing amply minimize the risk of wood warping due to the rate of change of humidity. This adds an archival value to the artwork. Sealing also makes it easier for the painter (means you) to add multiple layers without any trouble.
Preparing Wood with Sealer Before Painting
1. It is important to clean the exposed surface of the panel including cradles sides and rear of the panel. First, use a vacuum cleaner if there is a lot of dust and debris deposited on the surface. Then, use lint-free cloth, favorably dampened to clean the surface.
2. To clean off any type of drips and for ease of application, put the panel on a flat surface and prop all of its four corners using balanced materials.
3. Now, put a shiny acrylic medium over the whole length and breadth of the wood panel. There are many products in the market that can get the job done. Make sure that the medium is thin and evenly-applied to give a balanced texture to the surface. It helps in minimizing brush strokes and the texture of your artwork. If there is not a special acrylic sealer around, you can also use a commercial stain sealer that is available in the home improvement stores or general hardware stores.
4. After all the areas are furnished with sealers are completely dried, you will feel that the wood feels hard and coarse. It is because of the fact that wood grains are elevated with this first applied coat. Using gentle sandpaper, sand down the whole surface to remove minor kinks. There is no use to grit and grunt with the sandpaper. A gentle swipe with easy hands is enough.
5. Before applying the next layer of sealer, make sure to clean the surface again with a vacuum or a dampened cloth to remove the small particles. Normally, two coats are enough to get the glossy, shiny look for your wood panel. But if you crave a more saturated look, more coats can be applied to get the desired results.
6. Lastly, apply two coats of primers after the sealer is completely dried to your touch to gain the wood’s signature surface back. Primer plays an important role in strengthening the adhesion between layers of your paint and primer, no matter which medium you are planning to use on the surface. Try to prime all the sides and surfaces including the back and sides of the panels for a masterly look. It’s not compulsory and it’s sufficient to seal all the surfaces but priming only the face.
Once the primer is all dried and you can check by running your hand over the surface, the panel is ready for acrylic painting. But if you are planning to use an acidic medium, it is better to wait for 1 to 3 days more before playing with the paints on the surface.