Art supplies Flower Art Oil Painting Painting

3 Is Not a Charm & Review of Painting Panels/Boards

Camellia #3, Oil painting on panel, 8x8"
Camellia #3, Oil painting on panel, 8x8"

So I’m still at it with these camellias, this time in oil.  I have a plan for Camellias #4 as I still haven’t quite got what I’m after. I want to see if I can get bright light colors in oils without the chalkiness of white paint. I think that will mean using thin transparent washes instead of thick paint, even though the usual method in oil is to make lights thick and darks thin.

Review of Painting Panels/BoardsBlick Studio Artists’ Boards

My favorite panels for oil painting are Ampersand’s Gessobord but Dick Blick had their “Blick Studio Artists’ Board Flat Panels” on sale and I decided to try one.

It’s a pleasant surface to paint on. The label says “Canvas-like surface offers exceptional brush control and bright colors.” I wouldn’t exactly call the surface “canvas-like” . The texture, while fabric-like, is barely discernible. The packaging doesn’t say there is anything coating the panel other than it is  “acrylic primed” but it feels like there is a very thin cloth of some sort under the acrylic. The surface isn’t too slippery and holds the paint OK but felt a bit thin to me.

3/8″ is their thinnest profile and therefore the least expensive, and it comes with built in “hang-holes” on the back, a nice feature. The panels are “heavy-duty, warp-resistant MDF…an affordable choice for artists, students, and leisure painters.”  Their packaging and website says nothing about being archival or acid-free.

Ampersand Gessobord

The price for Blick’s 3/8″ panel is within a few cents of the price of Ampersand’s thinnest profile Gessobord (1/8″) but unlike Blick, Ampersand says their panels are “professional quality, archival, acid-free and made from sustainable forest products that ensure the protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water. Formaldehyde-free and no harmful volatile organic compounds.” I love the surface of Ampersand panels and the way the tooth grips (bites?) the paint and seems to make for brighter colors than all other panels I’ve tried.

RayMar Panels

Another panel I recently experimented with is RayMar’s double oil-primed linen panel. It was fabulous, but too pricey for me. Their cotton canvas panels  cost less than the Ampersands but are  not as smooth as I prefer). Their panels are cotton or linen mounted on 1/8 inch hardboard with a pH neutral adhesive. “The reverse side of the panel is covered with a gray melamine finish to create an acid-free archival panel that resists warping and provides a permanent barrier against deterioration from moisture or mold.” I found their panels to be quite sturdy for plein air painting.

The bottom line:

Blick Studio boards are quite satisfactory to paint on, and RayMar’s are excellent quality, but I still prefer Ampersand Gessobord’s fine but toothy surface, archival and environmental qualities.

7 replies on “3 Is Not a Charm & Review of Painting Panels/Boards”

Thank you, Jana, for this review of painting panels. I recently purchased an 11×14 Clayboard by Ampersand but have not been sure how to put it to use. The label suggests various mediums. I plan to try it out with acrylic but wonder if it needs to be prepped first. I haven’t explored surfaces other than canvas. Blessings, Sandra


I have the problem of white paint chalkiness, too. Sometime it helps to substitute Naples yellow for white, since it is more transparent, but it also has the disadvantage of being almost luminous, used alone. In warm reds I like to mix it with cadmium scarlet, and I can tone this down with burnt sienna. A good cool lavender for me is naples yellow, cadmium scarlet and cobalt blue.



Thanks for your thoughts, Jana. I just purchased the sample pack from Raymar and am eager to try them out. I usually paint on stretched canvas, but it’s difficult to find inexpensive frames given the depth. Plus, panels are easier to store.

~ Stacey


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