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  1. #1
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    Plein-air panels

    For doing plein-air work, any good recommendations for panels? I would like to try out different ones to see what I like. I'm not really happy with the Dick Blick ones.

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  3. #2
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    I use SourceTek panels They are kiln fired birch and they offer different thickness for the panels and grades of surface from oil primed linen to polyflax.

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    I make my own which are basically the same as SourceTek's. I just buy 1/8" birch ply, cut it up into my usual sizes, buy a roll of Claasen's double oil primed linen and glue it down with a PVA glue. Takes maybe two days but produces 150-200 panels depending on sizes. I have some pics of the process I'll try to track down and upload.

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  7. #4
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    You can certainly just cut up masonite and gesso it.

    This company also makes a variety of nice panels etc.
    http://www.newtraditionsartpanels.com/

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    Thanks, guys... I'll take a look at the sites. Jeff, I was also thinking of making my own... which will probably be a lot cheaper.

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    Doug
    Here's a post from Stapleton Kearns blog on making panels.
    http://stapletonkearns.blogspot.ca/2...ng-panels.html

    If you type panel into the search bar on top of his site it will also pull up several other posts about panels etc.

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    Check out Ray Mar panels. They have canvas, linen, oil primed, acrylic primed, etc and they're REALLY nice to paint on.

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    Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I use gessoed masonite. I make little 9x12 panels I can carry in a backpack. I apply 3 layers of diluted gesso, sanding as the desire takes me, and away I go. They seem to hold up reasonably well.

    I can't stand canvas texture so I skip that step.

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  12. #9
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    Personally I hate Ray Mar panels...I've had many de-laminate...hate their surface, etc. Just me.

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  13. #10
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    I like the Fredrix linen panels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I make my own which are basically the same as SourceTek's. I just buy 1/8" birch ply, cut it up into my usual sizes, buy a roll of Claasen's double oil primed linen and glue it down with a PVA glue. Takes maybe two days but produces 150-200 panels depending on sizes. I have some pics of the process I'll try to track down and upload.
    For these 150-200 panels you make this way what's the cost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ezion View Post
    For these 150-200 panels you make this way what's the cost?
    Hard to break it down ezion to anything exact - mainly because a roll of Claasen's linen is a few hundred bucks, but it will make a few hundred small to medium panels easy. The other materials are inexpensive...then again a good table saw is $400-500. In the end I know I'm making them for maybe 10 - 20% of the price of a SourceTek panel. That's just a rough estimate though.

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    Here's the linen I use, from Utrecht: Claasens double oil primed.

    Another really good support, if you don't want to go the birch plywood/table saw route, is to use Gatorfoam. Makes for a nice, lightweight, non-warping panel which is easily cut with a mat knife - just not as durable as the ply.

    A few shots of how I prepare the panels:

    A stack of panels and linen cut ready to mount
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    I use a pencil to outline the panel, then bring the glue right to the line with the putty knife
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    Then trim the excess
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    Some pics didn't upload for some reason....anyway, you get the idea. I stack them up overnight and put extra weight on to press them...then trim out the next day.

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  18. #14
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    Thanks for the info, Jeff! I built some panels over the weekend. It's pretty easy. I had a friend who has a table-saw and cut up a bunch of 9 x 12. Figured that each panel's total cost was around $5 per panel (1/2 inch birch panel cut to 9 x 12) with double-primed linen canvas glued on using PVA.

    So, including shipping, probably saved around $10 per panel.

    Dougie

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    I have on occasion painted in oil on on Masonite prepared simply with a layer or two of acrylic. It worked perfectly well, but I wonder about its permanence. Will the acrylic eventually perhaps tend to crack or peel off? Does one have to use gesso?

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  20. #16
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    Modern "gesso" is just acrylic paint anyway. Very different from traditional marble dust gesso suspended in rabit skin glue or linseed oil.

    Hey cool Dougie...that seems pricey to me though at $5/panel! I guess 'cause you're using 1/2" ply...pretty heavy duty. But yeah, easy to make once you're set up with the process.

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  21. #17
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    Well, I went with the 1/2 inch birch mainly due to the fact that I'll probably be selling the plein-air work as small studies (I've sold some of my plein-air studies that I used for my finished paintings, before). I wanted something that wouldn't bend, in the future, if the customer took a long time to get them framed.

    Most of the cost isn't the wood:

    1) Birch Panel: $1.50 for each 9 x 12
    2) PVA glue: $15 for bottle (enough glue for 10 panels) = $1.50 per panel
    3) linen: $10/half yard (enough for 5 panels) = $2.50 per panel

    so, total cost = $5.50 per panel (at the moment). However, I found out that I can get the PVA glue much cheaper than our local store and I'll be getting much more of the linen at a cheaper price, also.

    I'm going to try my local lumber yard to see if I can get the birch wood at a cheaper price, also.

    Considering that I see 1/4" inch birch panels for around $12, I figure that I'm saving a significant by having the nicer/thicker panels (to prevent future warping) (Granted, before I create a lot of them, I'll need to make sure that I have a nice frame that easily holds the 1/2 panels... It may be too thick for 9 x 12 paintings).

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  22. #18
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    Yeah, most folks go with 1/8" all the way up to 12x16 even...then maybe 1/4" or 3/8" for 18x24. Warping isn't much of a problem if you do your own framing. But yeah, materials wise that sounds a bit pricey. I figure a 9x12 costs me maybe $1, if that? Not including labor of course.

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  23. #19
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    Does the $1 include the glue and linen?

    Sounds good (about the thickness). I think that 1/4 may be the way to go.

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    Yep...the linen is the real cost of course...I would get it from Utrecht...and on sale when they have one. I lucked into some a few years back through Utrecht and bought like four huge rolls - 5' x 6 yds...makes a lot of 8x10s and 9x12s!

    Edit: Even 1/4" is twice what a lot of people use at those smaller sizes. Gatorboard is a great support too...rigid and nice and light for longer packing trips.

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  25. #21
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    I spotted this thread a couple of days ago and just wanted to say thanks to Jeff for putting me onto how PVA can be used. Never thought of glueing canvas onto panels with it before.

    It also made me realise I can cut up some canvas boards I've had for a while but never used because they're too big and I don't like the surface. I was going to give them away but this way I can get some use out of them and practice painting on something a bit more sturdy than paper.

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    Does anyone have any suggestions for a good oil ground/gesso to use. I've used Gamblin's and it's really weird. It's totally slick, like plastic. I've heard Natural Pigments' Lead Ground is the best.

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    I've had the same trouble with Gamblin's ground Jacob. Even wrote to them and Robert explained the prep - really needs to be sanded well after it's dry. I really like the surface I get with Fredrix Oil Priming primer.

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    No idea if this is helpful to anyone but I thought I'd mention it.

    I've mixed white household emulsion with PVA and used that as a primer. Did it once at college and once for a personal plaster scultpure. It comes out pretty thick, though I think you can dilute with water (not sure about that though because I never bothered), and it gives a nice surface for painting on. Though again, not being an expert, I don't know how it would compare to actual gesso or acrylic priming. But for my skill level and budget it worked well for both oil and acrylic.

    Might be a handy affordable alternative.

    P.S. I'm also not sure about the durability of it, but the sculpture I did hasn't cracked or deteriorated after about two years.

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    @Jeff: Thanks for the suggestion of the Claessen's double-primed canvas. I got their sample pack to try out various canvases.... Painting on linen is sooo much nicer than cotton. After I finish off my current set of canvases, I think that I'll make the switch.

    But, for the panels, I really like the Belgium Linen ones. After I did my test, I searched for my two favorite types. Ends up being their most expensive ones. However, the Claessens (160) was a reasonable price and was a pretty good linen canvas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hoppes View Post
    @Jeff: Thanks for the suggestion of the Claessen's double-primed canvas. I got their sample pack to try out various canvases.... Painting on linen is sooo much nicer than cotton. After I finish off my current set of canvases, I think that I'll make the switch.

    But, for the panels, I really like the Belgium Linen ones. After I did my test, I searched for my two favorite types. Ends up being their most expensive ones. However, the Claessens (160) was a reasonable price and was a pretty good linen canvas.
    I'm pretty sure Claessen's is Belgian also...not that it matters much but yeah, I think I usually use the 160 also.

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    Doug,

    The Utrecht Linen sold on the Utrecht site and stores is made by Claessens for Utrecht. Try the 820 and 880 Double primed. Same quality but better pricing through Utrecht.

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    I thought we established that plein air painting isn't really art. Go paint some legless farting warthogs.

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  34. #29
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    As soon as I see one Bill! At least it should hold pretty still.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    Does anyone have any suggestions for a good oil ground/gesso to use. I've used Gamblin's and it's really weird. It's totally slick, like plastic. I've heard Natural Pigments' Lead Ground is the best.
    I've never used it, but I've also never known of anybody having a positive reaction to Gamblin's oil ground. W&N's, like Gamblins, is alkyd based, but doesn't have the slick, plastic surface.


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