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Topic: preparing wood for painting  (Read 1648 times)
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« on: June 13, 2012 12:09:01 AM »

Hello all~
I wanna start doing paintings on wood slices, but I don't know how to prepare the wood so the painting will last the longest...
I will probably use oil paints (might use acrylics if I'm short on time) and don't know the type of wood.

So, how do I prepare wood so the painting won't chip? Do I need to take additional steps when the painting is finished to preserve it?
Also does the type of wood matter?

Thanks to anyone who'll answer (:
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012 07:58:58 AM »

Well this is a good and complicated question, I like it. Obviously wood is a fine choice, da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa on a thin piece of wood, so obviously it will last.
There are variables here though, I'm going to list what I can think of and then possible solutions.
1. How dry is the wood?
    If it's plywood or planking that has been purchased from most places it will be fine, they usually kiln dry it so it doesn't warp. The exception to this is most of your pressure treated woods, those have a cocktail of toxic chemicals injected into them via a pressure system and hence still feel slightly moist, avoid the pressure treated stuff.
    Essentially I feel that you are going to have the most success on wood that is bone dry, if you are in doubt, don't do it.

2. What type of wood or board are you using?
    Plywood and most paneling should be fine, any flavor of fiberboard is going to need a surface preparation to seal it on BOTH sides and the edges. Fiberboard is a sponge for any type of moisture, including oil. If you are using a fiberboard I suggest mod-podge, a watered down tightbondIII, or a standard paint primer that matches your paint (a can of the stuff from your local hardware store should do the job).

3. Absorption and warping.
    Now if you are using just a piece of wood that is bare and bone dry you are going to have the grain absorb moisture or any liquid it can from the oils, this will raise the grain structure; sometimes up to 1/16th of an inch (about 1-2mm) on wide grain woods (hemlock, pine, etc). You can prevent this by using an acrylic or similar primer (thin it down to the consistency of water) and sanding with medium to fine grit (120-220) sandpaper between coats. Once again I highly suggest a primer to match the paint you will be applying, oil primer for oils, acrylic primer for acrylic.

4. End grain
    If you are working on end grain (like a section of tree), then the advice is still the same, prime before painting, sand. 

That pretty much covers what I can think of off the top of my head, if you have more specific questions feel free to ask and I'll be happy to offer up my opinion.

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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012 09:41:07 PM »

I am an oil painter, and personally I like to use masonite as my surface. Sometimes I even stretch the canvas on to the masonite board and glue it to the back for some extra texture.

I use a 1/4 inch board usually, but depending on how large you work you may want to go thicker to prevent warping. You can always attach wood slats to the back to prevent bending, but it does get heavy and that is something to keep in mind if you plan on displaying your piece hanging on a wall.

The masonite has a great surface and absorbs paint nicely. I usually give the board a nice sanding, a coat of gesso, another sanding, and repeat the process a few times depending on how I'd like to work.

Hope I helped a little bit, although the post above me has some great info also!

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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012 11:16:44 PM »

When I use masonite or wood, I like using shellac to prime the surface. It doesn't have a lot of tooth like gesso, so the paint seems to sit on top of the surface and really makes brushstrokes stand out. I like working that way, but I do know there are a lot of people who dislike it as well. If you prefer gesso primed surfaces, I prefer to do the multiple coats with in between sanding. You get a really nice finish with some good bite to hold the paint.

If you go for masonite, make sure it's oil pressed. The other stuff isn't much better than cardboard and will soak up moisture like a sponge and crumble. The oil pressed works great though!
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