Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Linen Panels (and a new music video)

Please comment with your experiences. I am by no means an expert on this, but I've tried a few and thought I'd ramble for a moment about the experiences of the different brands and preparations.

(Oh and by the way, I posted a new ukulele song on Youtube, if you like that sort of thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7__uHXcVk8)

In general, there's an apparent perception of value with "oil on linen" paintings. I'm not entirely sure that's a great thing. But bowing to pressure, I started to try them about two years ago. I was concerned with linen's reputation for sagging or tearing, but after taking Jeremy Lipking's workshop and seeing that he was using linen mounted on gatorboard, decided to give it a go. The boards are lightweight, easy to stack and transport, will not sag or need restretching, and can be cut with a utility knife into new sizes.

Here are some random  observations (again, love to hear your input on this as well):

  • After some mucking about with different brands, I now only use the Claessens double lead-primed, portrait smooth panels. The lead surface tis very silky and non-absorbant and I generally prefer as smooth a surface as possible.  Other priming and texture weights are available.
  • One time a client was upset that the back of the panel had been scratched or something. He wanted to know why I would use a material like that, until it was pointed out that had the gatorboard not been present, there would have been a hole in the actual painting. 
  • Fredrix makes a linen panel which is a terrible, terrible, horrible thing. I have some left which need to be repurposed as drink coasters or something. The surface is very uneven. The quality looks like that of a regular canvas panel (cheap.) The priming is hard as a rock. 
  • My experiences with New Traditions and Signature Canvas have been equally good as far as both product and customer service are concerned. Signature does offer the 1/2" gatorboard for larger sized panels.
  • When you have a stack of unframed canvases, positioning them so they don't divot is tricky. It's really simple with these.
  • You can fit up to 3 of these bad boys on the canvas carrier part of a half box easel. Sweet.
  • It's not the sort of thing you get in a craft store. 
  • For the most part, I paint a thinned burnt sienna-ultramarine blue wash on these as soon as I get them, and use them eventually. 
  • They fit great in those snazzy plein aire frames.

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  1. Hi LIsa!

    LOVE your voice!!

    I could agree with you about NT and Signature as to their quality, etc. However, I am probably the only living painter that abhors claessens linen, by virtue of the fact that it is NOT absorbent. NT has been the only people I've found that stock linen other than claessens.. I currently am stuck on their lead primed (YES, to me like painting a fresco) but I used his non-claessen linens. L280 or L216, on gator board too. I feel much more at ease knowing the canvas is rigidly backed, because I paint in so many layers for one. And I had a bad experience with a crate fail that came dangerously close to the painting. I also think they're easier to frame..It costs me an arm and leg, but I have extras of those..

  2. I didn't think Claessens made a lead primed linen. I do like linen on panel, for the same reasons you cited.

  3. Really great info about linen and panels. Just have a question about the framing. What are those plein air frames that you mentioned? I'm wondering if they are front loading or something else altogether? Would love to know more about how to frame panels without breaking the bank :)

  4. Though Claessens is still, in my opinion, the best, I have also gotten Centurion's oil primed linen. Their linen panels are really thin, and tend to warp (bend) a little, so they're fine for smaller sizes, and once framed, are fine even for larger sizes, but they just feel so insubstantial that I prefer to buy their linen, and then adhere it to my own panel - either masonite or plywood.
    Or gatorboard would work too. It's a less expensive, but still pretty nice surface to paint on.. and I usually add one more thin layer of lead when I get them because I like things REALLY non absorbent.

  5. I did't know Claessens made a lead primed linen either. I would love to try it, where do you purchase these panels?

    Thanks for sharing the info and your thoughts.