When people talk to me about my artwork they often ask what I’ll put on canvas next. Then I get to tell them I prefer not to paint on canvas. I can, have, and will paint on canvas if a client insists. I think the last batch of canvas supports I built was in 2011, and I decided that the paintings come out better the way I have been painting them on panel. I use birch plywood of cabinet grade. Why do I prefer to paint on panels instead of canvas? The first reason is durability. Unlike canvas, a wood panel will not warp, or sag. The painting can be transported with less risk, and the paint is less likely to crack over time. A few months ago a client’s house flooded from a broken pipe and the only artwork that survived was my oil painting. The second reason is the way a wood panel reacts to the ground layers I put down before even thinking about what I will paint. First I put down three coats of a white primer, sanding between each coat. Then a coat of Colonial red, and finally a glaze of gold paint. The gold and red layers show through small gaps I leave in the oil paint so that the painting shimmers when light hits it at certain angles (this is very difficult to capture in a photo). On plywood this creates a smooth surface that paint is easily applied to and easily removed from until it starts to dry. I can simply wipe away if there is a mistake in the work as I go. On canvas this doesn’t work, and the paint layer absorbs into the texture of the canvas and it isn’t as lustrous. So I paint on plywood panels because they produce the best quality images with the best outcome overall.
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