Supports for Oil Paint 

There are many surfaces that you can use to apply oil paint and it’s worth thinking about them before you start painting. Sometimes painting on a different surface inspires you to produce something quite unique and interestingly different. 

Mostly canvases are used. These have been around for about three hundred years, in one form or another. These are either made from cotton or linen and can be rough or smooth in structure. They usually come ready prepared with layers of gesso, so you can start painting immediately. There is also raw canvas that can be bought on a roll, stretched and primed on stretcher bars by yourself. Generally cotton canvas is more easy to stretch than linen. Ready made canvases come in all shapes and sizes, from very small to very large indeed. There are on the market canvases that have aluminium stretcher bars which don’t warp with time.

There are also canvas boards, which are much thinner and take up a lot less storage space. These are also very popular. Basically these are boards that have canvas stuck to them that have been primed with gesso. These are more rigid than canvases and also come in many sizes. There are also available on the market, panels and canvases that have many different finishes and uses. For example, clay, gesso, plaster, sand and much more. These are worth trying out. Any good art shop has them in store.

Then there is MDF, which stands for medium density fibreboard. This is a man made fibre panel that is often used for painting. It comes in different thicknesses and needs priming with gesso at least twice on both sides to stop it warping. It has a very smooth surface. The gesso can be applied with a brush which will usually give it some structure, or a roller that will produce a smooth finish. If you want a lot of structure, try applying the gesso with a pallet knife or credit card.

You can also try out hard wood panels. These are usually prepared with gesso and are very smooth. These are only made of hard woods like oak to prevent warping.

Finally, there is paper. Specially prepared oil paper has been produced and is usually sold in blocks or pads. This is very handy for quick sketches which are usually very spontaneous. Ordinary paper cannot be used as the oil in the paint will sink into the paper very fast and make it difficult to smear the paint. This results in a greasy, oily ring around the paint that is difficult to move.

Try these different types of supports and see which sort suites your style of painting best.
Happy painting – Jean Elliot