Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How I make panels

This is a must, I make these panels frequently, they have evolved, I now do what John Carlson suggested in his book on painting. It's a good read, and maybe time to re-read.

Here is a stack of "tempered hardboard" or the stuff formerly known as Masonite cut to size, tablesaw helps, I also have cotton fabric cut and ready. Sand the edges just a bit.  The smaller boards, up to 12"x 16" I use 1/8th" for the larger size, 16"x 20" I got 1/4". This is my current largest size and first time using 1/4" stock, I think if I go much bigger I'll start to stretch it.

I'm spreading white glue on the smooth side. I actually enjoy making these panels, I can work on them at night and when it's raining, and the material cost is super cheap!  I also like the product, and having total control of every detail.

Carefully lay on the canvas, try and get it centered, then press and smooth it down from the center out until all bubbles and wrinkles are out. If you find something trapped between layers lift up on that side or corner take it out and lay the canvas back down.. You want the canvas as smooth as possible.

Turn it over and paint glue around the edge,making sure you have glue on the edge. Fold the canvas over, I cut the corners a bit and add a bit more glue.

A nice fat X on the back in an attempt to keep it flat, like that's a good thing, fold over and smooth out, always double check.

Here it is ready to dry,  Later I will prime with oil-based primer (not pictured) two coats, sanding in between. I was using rabbit skin glue and might try that again with these panels, we'll see.

These panels are from a previous batch, ground color applied, dried and ready to go!  I always want this color to be dry so it doesn't bleed into my painting.


  1. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing. I appreciate the photos with the text.

  2. a sheet of 2mm or 3mm MDF, cut to the size you need and give 2 coats of gesso. one at right angles to the other. You can add some pigment to the final coating to give you a mid tonal ground if you prefer.
    This is very quick and gives perfect results.
    You can spend as much time and effort as you like on making painting panels but if time is short and you just want a quick, perfect result then this is the way to go.