Cheap Art Boards

Various materials make suitable surfaces for oil painting. When self-prepared, these will make oil painting cheap and also offer the artist more artistic control. But what surfaces are suitable for oil painting?

Cut the Cost of Oil Painting

Preparing one’s own surfaces for oil painting cuts the cost of purchasing ready-repaired art boards and stretched canvases. Any surface can be used for oil painting so long as it has been sized propery.
Suitable Surfaces for Oil Painting 

The surface onto which the oil paint is applied is known as a "support." There area many different types of support available that can be purchased, not only from art suppliers, but DIY stores. The following would make ideal supports so long as it has been suitably sealed with a size such as acrylic gesso primer, or traditionally, a chalk whiting mixed with rabbit skin glue. Such a sealant is known as a "ground."

  • Hardboard
  • Canvas
  • Card
  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Stretched linen over board

Cheap Stretched Canvas

This type of support is the most traditionally associated with oil painting. It is available in various grains from coarse texture to fine. Coarse texture is ideal for expressive paintings with broad brushstrokes, as the paint skims over the surface in an Impressionist style. This is good for subject matter such as cornfields and skies. Fine grain is suitable for highly detailed work such as portraits. Some practitioners take pleasure in stretching and preparing their own. Some DIY and craft shops stock ready-stretched canvases at reasonable prices.

Cheap Artist's Sealant

Materials other than canvas offer interesting textures for oil painting. Linen cloth glued onto a backing board with PVA offers a firm surface on which to paint. The fabric must then be sized afterwards with gesso or acrylic primer. Fabric that tends to moult, such as wool would be unsuitable.




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A Cheap Art Board
For a firm and smooth support, wood such as hardboard, MDF or thick card are ideal. This type of
support is a good choice for artists who require a more firm support that canvas lacks.
For extra smoothness, the wood should be lightly sanded with fine glass-paper before sizing the surface with the sealant. The procedure should be repeated with the second coat once dry. Card simply needs a light coat of acrylic polymer primer.

Oil Painting Paper

Specially-prepared oil painting paper is available in art supplies in pads of twelve. Some offer a canvas-like texture for those who like the effect it has upon the paint applied. When completing a painting, it might be wiser to click it onto a backing board to prevent it from dirtying the other pages.

Watercolour Paper for Oil Painting

Watercolour paper is ideal for oil painting, although it will need to be sized first, but 300gms or thicker might be most suitable. Watercolour paper is available in countless textures and grains from coarse (known as "not") where no heat has been involved in the pressing process, to smooth or hot pressed. Experimentation is the key to finding the most suitable.

Cheap Oil Painting Materials

Daler Rowny stock Daler Boards, which are painting supports that require no preparation. Some consist of primed linen canvas, which has been glued onto the board. When intending to complete several paintings, as for an exhibition, it might cut cost by self-preparation of the painting supports.
This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my 2 art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author, or through Amazon.


My other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.


© Rachel Shirley 2010