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Artists have many choices of painting supports. Papers, boards, stretched canvas, canvas and 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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?