I have read from a number of artists how they prefer painting on smooth boards, and I’ve used it once before with bad results, but I thought I’d try again in the spirit of experimentation. I know that I prefer painting on canvas, but based on recent praise of boards and the fact that I have a better knowledge of my materials, I wanted to see if I was missing something. Results: Maybe?
My problem with board (I used Gessobord by Ampersand) was that my paint would not stay put. With each brush stroke I was picking up more paint than I was putting down. It seemed that its surface was too smooth to hold the paint. And sure enough, when I did it again last week, I had the same frustrating problem from the first brush stroke.
Before I started, I had tried to find other painters who had the same problem. I read one mention of it in Carole Marine’s book, and her solution was to use bristle brushes. She said it made all the difference. So, I used bristle brushes. Nope. What the $%*#?!
I finished the painting anyway to see if I could learn something from this disaster. Yep. I don’t like panel AND bristle brushes. I have fine-but-not-the-highest-quality bristle brushes, but could that be it? Amount of paint on the brush? Layers of paint? I don't give any more consideration to these factors when painting on canvas with synthetic brushes.
After my first pass at this, my opinion was: It looks like I painted with my fingertips up in the areas of thick paint, and because I kept picking up paint, I can see too much of the raw umber underpainting, which makes it muddy looking. Sooo, a day after this thunderstorm I went back to it to see how paint would stick on top of paint that had dried a bit. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes I pulled up big strokes of paint all the way down to the underpainting. Come on!
I am very happy painting on canvas with my synthetic brushes, but I want to know what I’m doing wrong. To make myself feel better, I painted the exact same picture, same size, with my favorite supplies to prove to myself that I’m not imagining this difference. So, here I present all THREE versions 1) Bristle brush on board 2) a second layer of paint with bristle brush on board a day later 3) synthetic brush on canvas-wrapped panel.
I was so much happier with the last one. Smooth, flowing application of paint, even coverage, aah, that's better. I still can't figure why I have a hard time keeping paint on board, I gave it a try, and at least I can say "Good for you! Not for me."
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
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