An Apology to Panels
Last year I wrote about painting on wood panels versus on canvases. It was a hate letter to panels. So many artists I admire use panels, and I didn’t get it. I couldn’t get the paint to stick to the surface. Every brush stroke pulled up more paint than I put down. In December I picked up a pack of little panels to try again, and since then I’ve painted almost exclusively on them. I cracked the code!
I read one artist say that she had the same problem I complained of until she switched to bristle brushes. Someone else said to add another coat of gesso first. Nope, nope. The answer for me was in my technique: I changed how I lay down the paint. On the smooth, hard surface of a panel, I needed to decrease the angle and the pressure of my brush to the surface. Apparently, my technique on canvas is more, um, scrubby, like I’m trying to push the paint into it. On panel, I now pull the brush in more deliberate, even strokes. I’m using more paint, too, so that I've got enough for the brush to glide through. My altered brushstroke works as well on canvas, but now I’m hooked on the firmness of panel. I always liked the slight bounce of a brush on canvas, but now I prefer the hard stuff. So, I’m sorry for bad-mouthing you, panels. This is my open apology, and I can tell that you already forgive me. Peace.
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