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 What type of wood makes a good support

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Janet
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PostSubject: What type of wood makes a good support   Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:12 pm

I've been watching a lot of painting videos and their is one artist in particular that states that he uses wood panels for his paintings. I was curious before regarding using wood as a support as Chantal and David brought it up in another thread. Is their types of wood that would be better then others to paint on? Any special way to prepare it?

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:39 am

I've written my own opinions on the subject in an article on my website:
http://www.dbclemons.com/choosewood.htm

Short version: if you want to paint on the wood itself, plywood is a better choice, in my opinion. Composites can be less expensive and have a smoother surface, but are almost always made of poorer quality materials. If I use a composite panel, it's only as a support for paper or canvas glued to it.

Wood panels are heavier than stretched canvas, and can't be rolled up. The larger they get the more bracing they'll need on the back, which may an issue if you're shipping them to shows.
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:53 pm

David, Thank you so much! You covered the topic thoroughly on your site. cheers Plywood it will be. I'll probably start with some small ones. I really like the idea of getting whatever size I want. Sometimes I have to crop a photo to fit to canvas and I lose some parts of the image that I actually really like. I described to my husband what I needed regarding the grade and type of wood so he'll be able to point me in the rite direction. I know you said "if you want to paint on the wood itself" does that mean I don't have to prep it in any special way?

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:44 am

What I mean by "paint on the wood itself" is not gluing paper or canvas to the wood surface as your ground. If you paint on wood directly then it'll need to at least be externally sized with glue or shellac. Priming isn't required but is a good idea.
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:19 am

Thank you David for the explanation!

A few things that I've researched about working on plywood. Just thought I'd share in case someone else would like to try it:

"A good alternative that oil painters use is plywood. There is good quality plywood available made of birch, poplar or mahogany that is suitable for oil paints if prepared correctly. Do not paint on soft woods such as pine because they contain more resins and do not resist moisture very well."

This site is excellent on how to create a brace for larger panels and how to prepare the wood:

http://www.askmaurice.org/wood.html

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:58 am

I would actually say that softwoods like pine or fir DO resist moisture well, probably better than hardwood, they just don't take paint or adhesive very well, and are more acidic.

When I was first starting out with oils as a kid, I didn't know what wood types to AVOID. I just picked up a sheet of yellow pine plywood at a local lumberyard, put down a few coats of acrylic ground and started painting. I still have a couple of those and they actually don't look too bad; although, it's only been about 30 years. The surface has yellowed somewhat, and the veneers have started to delaminate in some places along the edges.

There are different varieties within each species and some work better than others. Some I'd recommend are yellow poplar, aspen, or silver maple. Aspen has a nice tight grain. Paper birch is not bad but more acidic than some of the others. There's a type of Korean poplar that's almost pH neutral as it grows from the ground. The main details to look for is how well it takes glues or paint, and how much shrinkage. The aesthetic issues are with the coloring and smoothness of grain.
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Thank you David for the additional information! Smile

What type of glue would you recommend? I know the thread I added said rabbit skin glue but I really doubt I'd be able to get that locally. Is their an alternative that would be more readily available.

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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:37 pm

Janet,
I read the askmaurice link you gave and he mentioned birch plywood. I have some baltic birch plywood which I have used for draws and roll out shelves because of it's carpenter grade properties. It is very fine grained and very stable.

I was thinking about trying some of that and using the liquitex clear gesso you mentioned at http://watersolubleoils.forumotion.com/water-soluble-oils-f5/liquitex-clear-gesso-t118.htm

I have painted on wood previously, but always with acrylics, but with the clear gesso, I could seal the wood without losing the grain and wood that I love so much. I'll keep you all posted with how it goes.

Judy

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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:03 pm

Thank you Judy! The clear gesso would probably work really well! I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out. Smile

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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:14 pm

I check with my art supply store and they do have some so I'll pick it up this afternoon.
Judy

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:14 pm

Janet wrote:
...What type of glue would you recommend? I know the thread I added said rabbit skin glue but I really doubt I'd be able to get that locally. Is their an alternative that would be more readily available.

For sizing wood, I prefer shellac. It needs to be of good quality and dewaxed. The main advantage it has over other options is there's no water used and it dries quickly. If you don't want to bother with that and can't get RSG (which would be my 2nd choice) I'd suggest PVA (polyvinyl acetate) Gamblin sells this. Golden sells a medium called GAC 100 that can also work well. If you wanted to paint on that directly instead of priming, PVA can be rather slick under oils and cause adhesion problems.

As I may have mentioned here before, wood can cause staining problems if the size layer is not sufficient. I need at least 2 coats of shellac, 2-3 coats of RSG, and 3-4 for PVA. For water-based applications you need to let the water evaporate completely and that can take several days.
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:20 pm

The shellac option sounds good and would be something that I can get locally. The other options I'll put on a list and I'm sure I'll be able to locate something with all the options you've given me. Thank you for your help David I really appreciate it! Smile

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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:55 pm

Does shallac yellow over time. It seems that I remember that from doing woodworking. I'm not completely sure, though. I have used the Golden GAC 100 successfully under acrylics.

Judy

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:06 pm

Nothing's perfect or without some risks. Like many things, not all shellac is the same. Some types are very dark or waxy, and commercial premixed shellac I would not recommend. I may have more faith in it than "experts," but no one's ever been able to tell me exactly what type of shellac they've tested. I recommend a clear or extra blonde dewaxed shellac, but that's just me. Ask me again in a hundred years.

PVA has gone through all sorts of art tests, and hide glue has been used for centuries, if you're concerned about that. Hide glue itself is hygroscopic meaning it will flex in humidity changes, and that can cause potential problems. PVA won't do that, but oil doesn't adhere to it as well, as I mentioned.

There are no guarantees. Oils on PVA may self destruct at some point in the future. That's why painting on canvas glued to the wood is a way to hedge your bet. If the wood fails, the canvas can help the painting survive, and the wood support keeps the canvas firm, which helps the paint.

One more thing about painting on unprimed wood, all wood darkens over time. Even shelves made of bright yellow pine in a drawer that never see light can turn dark brown in only a few years. Priming makes that a non-issue.
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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: What type of wood makes a good support   Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:17 pm

I'm in the middle of testing liquitex clear gesso on a baltic birch plywood to see if it seals the wood and to see if the wso's will adhere. I'm assuming it willl work just the same as a white or black gesso, but I want the natural wood grain to show through where I do not paint.

Judy

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