Panel Painting

There are many techniques employed in painting as art. Artists would want to follow a certain technique that they believe shows their best expression. Some artists prefer the canvas as the medium for their art expression. Some would prefer watercolor on paper. Still others choose pencil drawings as their outlets for expression. Another known method of painting that was popular then was doing panel paintings.

Panel painting is simply painting that is created on a panel of wood. The panel can be a single piece or it can be a number of pieces joined together. Wood panels were then used way before the first paintings on canvas were done sometime during the 16th Century. Panel painting was also a form more commonly used in place of painting on walls (frescoes) or on vellum or parchment made form calf skin.

Panel painting usually follows a very laborious and long process. The services of a carpenter is required to prepare a solid wood piece to the measurements of the panels needed for the painting. The ideal wood panels to be used are those that are cut radially or across the tree rather than its length, as what are being done with timber wood. Oak is a preferred choice for the wood although there are also panels that are cut from beech, fir, pine, spruce, poplar, and other notable wood species.

After making a wooden panel according to the specified size and shape, the wood is then coated with a mixture of glues and resin and then is covered with linen which, becomes known as the “size”. Once the size (the glue and linen combination) has dried, a “gesso” is applied on the panels layer by layer in order to improve the absorbent properties of the wooden panels. The process of applying the gesso is done layer upon layer where each one is first sanded to smoothness before the next layer is applied. The “gesso” can sometimes be applied to form about as many as 15 layers before a smooth surface for the actual painting is acquired.

After the wooden panel has been successfully prepared, the artist usually lays out the design by using charcoal on the wooden panels. Artists can make use of different media for the pigments to be used on the panel painting. They can used either heated wax or egg-yolk (tempera) as the pigment medium. Heated wax was first used before the development of tempera which replaced the former during the early 1900’s. And because both pigment media dries quickly, painters need to have each stroke done to perfection which further shaped most artists to have that exacting and accurate style in painting.

The disadvantage of panel paintings is that they can easily get damaged by the weather and environment. Panel paintings need to be kept at a certain environment ideal for it. For example, panel paintings in rooms with too little humidity tend to warp and crack as they age. With panel paintings too delicate for long term artworks, it has been seldom used today in creating modern works of art. Most artists now prefer using canvas or other modern board supports for their art works.

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