Sunday, January 29

Painting on Hardboard

My First Painting on a Board
I’m painting an acrylic landscape on a board. Well, it’s not actually on wood, not solid wood anyway, but that doesn’t matter. What matters will be how my painting turns out.

It being a new year and all, I thought I'd try something different--like painting on a board. I have painted only one other painting on a board, and that was a relatively small painting, but it turned out OK, not an award winner, but OK. 

I had been admiring one painters’ technique (online), and I read that this artist painted primarily on MDF.

So I Googled MDF, which stands for medium density fiber board. One website said it’s wood fibers that are glued together using pressure and heat. An artist friend also said to use Masonite™, which I found out is a trademarked brand from what was once the Masonite Corp., named after William Henry Mason, just fyi, in case you ever need to impress someone with your artistic knowledge. 

Anyway, I visited my local big-box home improvement center to see what they had. They  had MDF, but it only came in ½-in (1.2 cm.). pre-cut pieces, which becomes way too heavy if your painting is larger than about 16 x 12 in. (41 x 51 cm.).

They also had something labeled hardboard. I had no idea what it was made of, but they had it in ¼ -in.(.6 cm.) and 1/8-in. (.3cm.) thicknesses, light enough to use for large paintings. It also came in 24 x 48 in. (61 x 122 cm.) and 48 x 96-in. (122 x 244 cm.) sheets.

I decided to try the 1/8-in., 24 x 48-in. sheet, which gives a pleasing 2-to-1 dimension, perfect for a landscape. And you can always buy the larger sheet and cut it down to any size.

When I got home, I Googled hardboard. I found out that instead of medium density fiber board, it’s high density fiber board. Wikipedia said it’s made of exploded wood particles, whatever that is, and it’s highly compressed, which makes it much stronger than MDF. Not that my support needs to be all that strong, but it’s nice to know.

I then Googled about using hardboard as a support. Several painters said to gesso it with at least two coats, which I did.

There was also discussion about the hardboard warping, and my board began to bend outward as the second coat of gesso dried. Oh no.

One painter said the solution was to gesso the backside of the board, which I did immediately.

I don’t know if using a thicker sheet would keep this from happening, but gesso-ing the backside did the trick. When it dried, it returned to its normal flatness after I laid it on a flat surface.

I notice that as I’m painting my landscape on the hardboard, the board does bend as the wet acrylic is applied, but as soon as it dries, it flattens out again. Thank goodness.

I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about painting on hardboard.   

Keep on Painting

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