Does anyone have experience making their own canvas panels? They’re my favorite surface but they’re hard to find in some formats - mostly I paint very small, and I’d love the freedom to try really odd formats.
I’ve done some research and the consensus seems to be to use MDF as backing because it’s tough and easy-ish to cut. Dust is a health hazard though. I’ve also not seen a lot of people seal the MDF - I would’ve assumed since it’s pressed wood that moisture and swelling would be an issue?
Then there seem to be two popular methods for attaching the canvas:
- gluing it with acid-free PVA that dries with some flexibility (Gamblin make some I’ve heard). Would there be issues with the glue seeping through the canvas and affecting its surface?
- using Gesso primer to stick the canvas to the MDF, then applying a few more layers of Gesso as primer. I’m suspicious of this, is Gesso enough to bond canvas to MDF long-term?
There are also so many types of Gesso/primer to choose from, it’s really intimidating! There’s acrylic, liquid, porous, non-porous, or salmon-flavored (ok, I made that one up).
Ideally I’d like to use primed canvas anyway because I found some I like, so I’m thinking maybe the PVA route is easier for me? I’ve read on this forum that some primer is better than others (something about cracks in oil paint) so if I can avoid priming my own canvases that’d be a bonus.
Obviously the thing I’m worried about is that, if I do this wrong, the problems may come months later and affect a lot of paintings, including sold ones. Has anyone tried this and found any gotchas?
I should mention I’m fairly new to oils, still in my first year. These might be really obvious questions to you professionals