Preparing a wooden panel for painting can be quite an involved process, however, it is important that this step is not overlooked and is done properly. Many artists use wooden panel instead of canvas as it has a smooth surface and is a wonderful surface to paint on. As wood is a material that can be affected by the environment, you need to make sure that it is treated properly before painting in order for the panel to have longevity.
Before priming the panel, I make sure that I have all the best quality materials and products available to me as this will affect the overall quality of the artwork and its archival lifespan.
1. Purchase a wooden panel
Wooden panel can be bought from any art store, I would recommend that you look carefully at the panel before purchasing it to make sure you get the best quality hardwood available. Sometimes the wood can have little imperfections so checking the surface of the panel first will save you time when it comes to fixing blemishes.
2. Preparing the panel
If there are imperfections, wood putty can be used to fill any gaps in the surface of the panel. Make sure that if you are going to use putty that you let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.
3. Sealing the panel
With a damp cloth, wipe the entire panel down to remove any dust particles before sealing the panel. I paint GAC 100 by Golden over the entire surface to seal the wooden panel. This step is important as the GAC 100 will help to prevent rot and discolouration over time. GAC 100 and Gesso will also act as a barrier between the paint and the panel so that oil and other chemicals do not penetrate the wood. When painting the GAC 100 over the panel, make sure that your brush strokes are even and that you paint from one side to the other. This will ensure that the finish is smooth. As the first layer of GAC 100 will be absorbed quickly into the panel, you will need to apply a minimum of three layers to seal the surface. Make sure that your brush is clean and dry before applying the next layer and that the surface is not tacky when you touch it (give at least an hour for each layer to dry). Repeat the same process on the underside of the panel and the edges. Remember that all areas need to be covered with GAC 100 in order for the panel to be properly sealed.
4. Priming the panel
Prime the surface of the panel with gesso moving the brush from side to side with even brush strokes. Gesso by Golden is one of my favourites as it is professional grade and has tooth to it. Apply at least three layers of gesso (wait for the paint to dry between layers before doing the next layer) covering the artwork surface and the sides of the panel. For a smoother finish, you can sand the surface once the gesso is completely dry to remove any lumps or inconsistencies. Remove excess dust and particles off of the panel with a damp cloth before painting another thin layer of gesso over the surface.
Once these steps are complete, your panel is ready for your masterpiece!