- 1 What Is a Canvas Panel?
- 2 What Are Canvas Panels Made Of?
- 3 What Types of Paints Can You Use?
- 4 Types of Canvases and Gesso
- 5 Uses
- 6 Advantages
- 7 Problems and How to Deal with Them
- 8 To Sum Up
Do you want to enrich the art world with your paintings? Before you jump into this wonderful hobby, you need to gather the essential art supplies, starting with the canvas. Or if you’re like most beginner painters, you will probably want to kick off your creative expression using a canvas panel. So, let’s learn something more about it.
What Is a Canvas Panel?
It’s a painting surface composed of primed canvas mounted on a rigid board. Artists regard the canvas panels on the market to be a better alternative to traditional canvases. They are lightweight, usually smaller, more practical for transport and less expensive than traditional canvases.
What Are Canvas Panels Made Of?
Art panels are made of several types of boards but the most often sold are cardboard and wooden.
- Cardboard – Cardboard panels are thick, sturdy, and not too heavy. Compared to the wooden ones, they are less expensive and easier to transport and yet the canvas texture is almost the same. But, don’t expose them to water and moisture because the cardboard absorbs it, and it can get destroyed.
- Wooden – On the other hand, the wooden boards are more professional and heavier, of course. Those that are made of tempered hardboard won’t warp easily, plus the oil and acrylic primers better seal their surface. Another plus is that the wooden board is more compact, so the edges don’t fry.
The canvas on the top of the board can be of several different fibre types: cotton, linen, jute or a synthetic blend. Each fibre has a slightly different texture and you can experiment to find out which one works best with your painting technique. The choice between cotton or linen canvas panels depends on the texture and durability of the surface you want to have. From a practical point of view, cotton painting panels are easier to find. Every art and craft store sells them and a lot of professionals regularly use them.
Adhesive and Primer
A pH-neutral or acid-free adhesive glues the canvas to the board and then it’s time to apply the primer. For painting with oil and acrylics, the primer is gesso, an acrylic primer that prepares the canvas for the paint. Its formula is very similar to acrylic paint, and depending on the quality (and the price) it can be thinner and runnier (producing a smoother surface) and thicker and opaque. But, as long as the panel is “gessoed”, everything is fine.
The cardboard art panels are all wrapped with primed canvas and they have a layer of thick paper glued on the back. There you can leave your signature and date and make history or memories.
What Types of Paints Can You Use?
Art panels are usually used with oil, acrylic and tempera (gouache) paints. There is a special type of primed canvas for each of these, so check the panel before you buy it.
Types of Canvases and Gesso
There are three types of canvases and each of them is suitably primed for a different type of paint.
- The oil canvas first receives a prime of zinc white mixed with linseed oil. It dries for three days and then comes the second layer of titanium white. It dries again for 10 days and it’s ready.
- Absorbent canvases are the best surface for tempera because they are more porous. They are prepared with two primer layers of chalk mixed with rabbit-skin-based glue. These are water-based, so they dry in a hot-air oven which fastens the process.
- The universal canvases work well for both, oil and acrylic paints. Their two primers are titanium white based but they dry in hot-air ovens and are quicker to prepare.
For Students, Seasoned Artists and Beginners
Art panels are the perfect choice for anyone who wants to paint with oil, acrylics and gouache. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur, an art student or a professional, they have so many advantages and offer great quality. For beginners, there’s one advice – when you buy them, don’t forget to check what type of painting the panel is made for.
For Outdoor Painting
Panels are ideal for plein air painting because they are smaller, thinner and easier to carry around. Put a few in your backpack and go out. wherever you find inspiration. If you are a professional and you have one of those pochade boxes, even better – open the lid, slide the panel in and you can start painting. No need to carry easels or other equipment.
Let’s repeat: compared to canvases, panels are smaller in size, cheaper, not transparent, thinner and lighter. They are also more durable, easier to crop and store, have square edges and don’t need stretchers and supporting bars for mounting.
After a while, regular canvases can become loose, so they need additional re-stretching. Plus, changes in temperature and vibrations cause surface movement and in time, when the paint becomes brittle, it cracks. However, the panels don’t have that problem.
Problems and How to Deal with Them
Although protected with primed canvas, cardboard panels can absorb water or moisture if exposed to it. This can destroy them or at least, damage the corners. The solution for this is obvious – keep them in a dry place.
There are three reasons for warping:
- Acrylic and oil paints shrink when they dry, so they warp the board – Some artists try to flatten them out by putting a flat board and weights over them. However, acrylic paint is soft and easily sticks to the surface, so this destroys the painting. The oil paint does the same, especially if in a thick layer. Don’t try to flatten the board even if the oil paint is dry, but old, because it gets brittle with age and if you apply this method, the paint cracks.
- The canvas can also shrink which leads to the same situation.
- If panels lean against a wall for a longer period – they also warp. You might think that if you flip over the board, lean it to the wall and let gravity work, the problem would be solved, but no, it doesn’t work that way.
The best solution here is prevention. It is almost impossible to unwarp panels that have already gotten in that state, so protect them beforehand. Frame the art panel as soon as you can and hang it on the wall. It will be in a vertical position and the frame will prevent the warping. For larger panels, you can cradle them. Cradling is attaching wooden strips on the back. They stiffen the board and prevent warping.
To Sum Up
Every Art and Craft Store in your neighbourhood offers a wide range of these art essentials. So, decide which painting adventure you want to embrace, oil, acrylic or tempera, buy the canvas board and dive in! Believe us, the sense of pleasure, freshness and peace it will bring to your life is irresistible. Finally, when the work is done, don’t forget to show the world your masterpiece, so we can all enjoy and be inspired.