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Surface Preparation Tips.

I was recently asked an interesting question by a an artist who is serious about the use of materials. He likes to paint on wallboards which he prepares himself. His picture framer questioned the use of MDF board because of the possibility that tannin stains from the board might, over time, strike through and spoil the painting., Qualified picture framers are well trained on the choice and use of materials, and the question is a valid one.
The answer given here is good for any painting surface you may think is capable of causing stains:

All water based acrylics are micro porous and will not protect against staining of this type:

a complete seal is needed.

  • You can use a coat of gloss or satin alkyd (solvent based) house paint to seal the board.
  • You can also use Chroma Gloss Solvent Acrylic Varnish as a seal coat.
  • Next you need one coat of Atelier Binder Medium to ensure good bonding to the seal coat.
  • Follow with one or two coasts of Gesso.
  • It is possible to buy wallboards which are already primed with white solvent based paint and can be gessoed.

NOTE: I do not know whether MDF board contains enough tannin to worry about, so my suggestions above are about preventing possible trouble on any doubtful wallboard.

 Restorer’s Nightmares

Of famous Australian artists, Ian Fairweather is notorious for having painted on cardboard without any preparation. The paintings are embedded in the surface of the cardboard which is rotting away.

 Membranes

Two to three coats of Binder create a membrane layer, and if Fairweather had done this, restorers would be able to remove the rotted cardboard at the back and replace it with something reliable.

 Low Cost Lazy Choices can be Hard to Resist

Cheap canvases on stretchers, which are now commonly available, can also be a sensible choice.

THE FACT THAT THE STAPLES ARE AT THE BACK, LEAVING THE SIDES CLEAN, CAN BE A HUGE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE TO ANY ARTIST WANTING TO EXHIBIT, BECAUSE THE COST OF FRAMING CAN BE AVOIDED.

Quality

There are many brands so you need to choose carefully. Having been lazy, and having avoided stretching your own canvas, you should take a little trouble preparing the surface, which will improve enormously if you gesso it yourself, and it only takes a few minutes.

Prepare Yourself Choices

The Atelier range of gessoes includes:

Gesso Primer – For thick textural effects.

Liquid Gesso Primer – A smooth thin consistency that spreads easily and allows the texture of the canvas to show through.

We are also currently developing a new absorbent gesso.

The Ultimate Painting Surface

We believe that non-rotting, non-warping polyester canvas is the best choice for professionals, especially for large paintings.

There is another strong advantage for artists who live in the country, or whose work has to travel to be sold: polyester canvas can be stapled to a plywood backing (which acts as an easel), and after gessoing it can be painted on. Paintings chosen for exhibition can be put on stretchers later, when needed. Paintings, including oils done with flexible Archival Oils , can be rolled up for transportation and stretched on arrival.

Visit John Walker on the gallery site , whose large Archival Oils are handled in this way.

There are (1) Comments, Comments are now closed for this discussion?
  1. comment_1_4613

    fabulous commented on June 24, 2008, at 5:35 pm.

    I'm painting on clean MDF boards but if a board has an oil based stain on it __the stain will come through. a few xtra layers of gesso makes on difference I have not been painting for very long, but i shall take on board what you say about sealing the MDR first .thanks for the information.