lilliput mountain

What should you paint on?

painting tipsClaire Hansen

My rule of thumb when choosing painting surfaces is it must be beautiful and tough. Because when I paint I keep on painting with grit and determination until all the problems in the picture have been resolved I can be demanding on surfaces, sometimes removing paint, or heaps of layering.


When using oils and acrylics I like the surface to be smooth so I mostly use birch-wood artists board. it is expensive, doesn't come in large sizes but I prefer it because strong and hardy and never stretches.

WARNING: I have recently learned that when sealing the wood it is critically important that no water goes near the raw surface of the board. So that means the acrylic gesso must be dry and undiluted.  If using oils I recommend using an oil based ground rather than acrylic gesso to prep the board. It becomes smooth as silk and I believe that the wood appreciates the oil far more than a plastic adhesive.


For watercolours I prefer thick cotton rag paper of 600gsm. When I started painting I used watercolour boards but no one is stocking them in Hobart any more.  Cold press has more texture and hot press is smooth like it has been ironed.  You can cut or tear the paper down to any size you like. Tear the paper by folding it then reverse folding and maybe even tearing down the pressure of metal ruler.  

This video shows the birch-wood board I damaged by adding water to the foundational layer of gesso. It developed split seams throughout the painting within a few weeks. I have decided to sand off the acrylic paint and glue linen on top which is a traditional hard wearing painters surface preferred by Brad Kunkle. PS: The song is called "So Sorry" by Fiest.