Tuesday, March 30

Using Masonite for Your Painting Support


I learned about a new support for painting today and I wanted to share it with you. You probably already know this, but I had not thought about it before, so it was new to me.

Instead of painting on paper or canvas, try masonite.

Now, I was aware of masonite, of course, sort of. It’s some kind of manufactured board, right? That’s the extent of my knowledge of masonite. Like asphalt, I know what the word asphalt is—don’t we all—but to actually tell you what it’s made of, well, maybe not.

Wikipedia to the rescue. Masonite was invented in Laurel, Mississippi USA, of all places, in 1924. It was first used commercially in the late 1920s. It was used in construction—doors, walls, roofing—as well as for electric guitars, desktops, and canoes, which seems to be an odd combination.

It says it’s not used for these things as much anymore, but it is still used by ‘hobbyists.’ I guess they’re including artists in that category.

Masonite is made using the Mason method, whatever that is. It doesn’t seem to have a trademark, so I guess everyone is supposed to know what the Mason method is. Anyway, it’s made from wood chips, which are extruded into fibers with steam and then formed into boards (or whatever you want).

Okay, other than construction, it does say masonite is used by artists as a support for painting. It is also used in linocut printing in which the masonite is cut or engraved/embossed to form the image to print (I think). As I said, this was all news to me.

One interesting tidbit about masonite that you can drop into a conversation at your next cocktail party is that masonite was used to make automobile license plates for the province of Quebec in Canada in 1944 to preserve metal for the war effort. Bet you didn’t know that.

It was highly recommended as a cost effective support, that is, cheap. It is also better in many respects, than canvas, stretched canvas, and many papers--its smooth painting surface, for one.

It was also recommended that I gesso and sand it a couple of times for a really smooth surface.

It’s good for oil, acrylic, and I don’t know what all. I do know I’m going to use it as the support for my next acrylic painting.

See—you just never know what new thing you’re going to learn about art.


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