Painting supports. Linen panels

painting supports-linen panels-seascapes-2017-27-outdoor painting-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-beside the dunes v2

Artists have many choices of painting supports. Papers, boards, stretched canvas, canvas and linen panels.

Linen panels

For me, the flavour of the month is linen panels. Well, for me it’s much more than that. These are my favourite supports for outdoor painting!  I was lucky to have been introduced to linen panels by an artist friend several years ago.

linen panels-blank canvas-Philippa Robert Adelaide South Australia


There are several sizes available these days, more now than when I started using them.

There were 25x30cm 20x25cm and 30x30cm. But I have since become familiar with 10x10cm and 20x20cm sizes. A lot of the more recent sizes are square.

painting supports-linen panels-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia
10x10cm, 20x20cm, 20x25cm, 25x30cm, 30x30cm.


Even though their branding is French (pebeo), these panels were difficult to find in Europe. After a bit of searching online I found them. Can you guess where?

Bonnie Scotland!

Prices vary quite a lot, depending on whether you are shopping in Paperchase or a dedicated art store. But I found them in Glasgow in two stores and Perth in another two. Not sure about Edinburgh or Aberdeen or further afield. There are hundreds of artists in The Highlands and Islands of Scotland so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are even more widely available.

In Adelaide I buy these panels from an art supplier who orders them in, from Queensland I think.

painting supports-linen panels-2017-28-seascapes-outdoor painting-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-sunshine on sandhills

Panels are reasonably light and compact for a travelling artist. They are much heavier individually than a sheet of canvas paper but their sturdiness is a bonus. They can stand a bit of rough handling in bags, provided they are lightly wrapped in baking paper.

painting supports-outdoor painting-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia-baking paper

Extra advantages

There are several extra things I fancy about linen panels. The sizing of the surface gives a silky texture on first contact with the brush. Because it is clear, the sizing allows the mid-tone of the linen to guide the early stages of the painting – laying in the darkest darks for a start. And see how nicely the 25x20cm board fits vertically into my paintbox!

painting supports-linen panels-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Sometimes I prime them with a chosen colour to aid the spread of paint into the weave of the linen. The 10x10cm cafe sketches done recently have coloured backgrounds. I tried red, light blue and ochre.

Stretched canvas has a nice spring to it under the brush and is my preferred support for studio work. Outdoors, linen panels are portable, fairly lightweight and rugged. Unless pre-primed by the artist, they have a silky surface, warm wheaten colour and offer a helpful mid-tone reference to start.

You know what? There is another thing I haven’t mentioned. Linen seems more prestigious. Do you agree?


Shoreline stretch – September’s wave painting


“Shoreline stretch” features as the image for September in my 2017 calendar.

September 2017 wave painting-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Shoreline stretch

Inspiration for this painting came from walks on the Brighton jetty. It captures the outlook to the north, with its expanse of sea, breaking towards the shore.

The image below shows the original painting. It is one of my larger works, with dimensions of 60x90cm .

This painting seems to celebrate the diagonals that often appear in my paintings. I relish the visual energy they bring. In this work they also give structure to the mass of sea and draw the eye towards the distance. This is balanced by the mystery of the water close to the jetty where there are shadows and currents to ponder.

Shoreline stretch-2016-19-seascapes-wave-painting-philippa-robert-adelaide-south-australia-shoreline-stretch
Shoreline stretch; acrylic on canvas; 60x90cm; $1620 unframed

The range of blues and greens is infinite and in this work there are many. Blues dominate the distance while greens work strongest in the foreground.

This painting will be exhibited during SALA in August in Adelaide, unless sold beforehand.
The mini-exhibition will be held at Cafe Lune, 81 Jetty Road, Brighton South Australia. I will provide more details later.


Acrylics revisited

acrylics revisited-work in progress-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Acrylics Revisited

Recently I wrote about my need to reconsider acrylics. After listing the advantages, I started on the other column. Soon it was clear that the downsides were outnumbering the upsides. I have been painting with acrylics for decades and the news was not good. Time to break the list up a bit and see if the light of another day helps.

acrylics revisited-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

So, back to where we were: One of the chief advantages of acrylics is also a major disadvantage for me, depending upon the weather and the location, indoors or studio.

  • Speed of drying outdoors is a huge detraction. On a breezy day the paint mixed on the palette does not last very long before drying. Bad luck if you needed quite a bit of one colour. Similarly, with acrylics the pure colour squeezed out can form a dried surface which can then add globs to the fresh paint if you take it from underneath.
  • Clean-up in water is “easy” but in the field, the brushes brought home need further attention with soap and warm water to complete the job.
  • When using acrylics it is quite difficult to match colours exactly after the paint is dry. Given drying time is fast, this compounds the problem. Careful use of slow medium could slow down the drying time of your batch, but that is difficult outdoors. For studio work, Chroma claims that it can be easily done with Atelier Interactive if you wet the surface of the area you want to match.
acrylics revisited-work in progress-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia
Falie, Port Adelaide (wip); acrylics on linen panel

Acrylics – the lessons for me

  • plan the colour’s tone – work in a lighter tone than you expect.
  • don’t forget to use the water spray to keep the palette moist or use a damp paper towel or sponge under the palette paper.
  • push the colour a bit more – think dazzle
  • stop grizzling and get on with it!
acrylics-Mary's hedge V2-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South AustraliaSMLR
Mary’s hedge; 25x30cm; oil on linen panel

There are many more negatives than positives – hence the last bullet point! Today’s work, painting in the autumn sunshine with a light breeze reminded me of the negatives. Isn’t that a shame?

I hadn’t realised how much I love painting with oils.

So how should I proceed?

The immediate plan is:

  • Oils outdoors unless travelling far and wide
  • .Acrylics or a happy-medium substitute like water-soluble oils indoors unless I can ventilate the space well.

Sounds do-able. What do you think?


Another wave painting from the calendar

Here is another wave painting to dream on. It has been a while since we looked back at the calendar.
August offers us “Stormy swell”.

another wave painting-seascapes-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

This is a large painting, created with a limited palette of ultramarine, yellow ochre and white, plus a touch of magenta.
The limitation did not feel limiting! It was a major tonal exercise but I remember the process of its creation as quite meditative.

Here is an image of the original. It measures 60x90cm and hangs in a private collection in Melbourne. I have visiting rights, which is fun.

another wave painting-seascapes-wavepainting-PhilippaRobert-AdelaideSouthAustralia-stormy swell

It is almost time to put together the calendar for 2018. I wonder what the theme will be this time?

Any suggestions?