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Oil paint and wood preparation?

hello! i switched to painting on wood three years ago and i’m wondering if my process is incorrect? i purchase my wood from stores (cheaper) like lowes and i get thin plywood pieces, or old wood from my house. i use heavy acrylic gesso over the wood and do multiple layers, wait a few days and then i apply oil paint. i never sanded my wood because i liked the rough texture and paint showing.

decided to read up how to properly paint on wood and i saw that you have to seal it with something else and then sand it, and then use gesso or the painting will warp or rot overtime.

i still have my first paintings and there’s nothing wrong with them but now i’m worried that my paintings won’t last?? due to me being ignorant :confused:
is it too late for me to save them, are they unsaleable now. i don’t know why i assumed the prep was easy as acrylic. (acrylic was my first medium before i switched to oil)

extra information: i don’t use turpetine, only extra material i use with my oil paint is lineseed oil. oil painting brand is gamblin. gesso brands varies from liquitex, grumbacher gesso, u.s art supply

thanks to whoever responds :slight_smile:

I use wood panels sometimes. I first put 3 coats of gesso on them, sometimes I sand in between coats. Then I spray panel with a grey auto primer. I read this method or watched a video awhile back. It seems to work, I mostly do plein air, and studio when it gets to cold outside.

hello, hmm ok! one more question, do you think by me using only acrylic gesso on the wood and nothing else to prep it will it still last?

sorry if it’s a repeated question, it’s really hard to find answers about my method. I looked up what other people do with their wood paintings but no one is answering if my paintings will last if i only used acrylic gesso as the base and nothing else.

here’s a picture of the type of wood i use, if it helps!

Check these articles out about sealing. (and even one about why you should paint in un-primed wood…

I too have used boards from Home Depot. Pre-cut mdf is like $4 for 24x24! I got a shopping cart full of misc sizes of plywood boards(which I cut to std sizes) for free from their cutting area. Hard to beat those prices.

I sealed them all with 2 coats water-based MinWax Polyacrylic. No sanding except rough edges.
I then added texture paste, gesso, acrylic paint/underpainting or straight to the paint, depending on what I was doing. No problems.

Gesso is acrylic medium (PVA) with calcium, same medium as paints and other acrylic mediums, and sealers like the MinWax (PVA). It all works the same. You are just trying to seal in anything on the wood and to make the paint stick to the surface. It is not going anywhere. If you buy pre-made boards and surfaces, they are prepped the same way. (I found it interesting that MDF is no longer made by soaking with oil, so that is not a problem anymore).

Good luck!

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Another thing I have heard is some artist do,give the board a light sanding, clean off dust and apply a coat of rabbit clue really thin coat. Then they apply gesso with a few coats. But no matter the sutface you paint on, canvas , boards, an oil primer will last longer than a acrylic gesso primer. But the board should be sealed first. I’m doing a few woodpanels this way. But then again I have paintings on cardboard with canvas on them and they are 50 years old and still look good.

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I use Golden’s GAC-100 to seal, then 3 coats of gesso. I use hardboard from the DIY store and cut it in smaller pieces. Can’t beat the price! I also use the wood panels from Blick.


A teacher I recently took a class with said you should use an oil based gesso.
I just asked that question in class. To be honest Ive never seen Oil based Gesso.

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There are a couple of companies that carry oil based gesso, WN, Gamblin. I use Gamblin on my commisioned paintings, Plein air I use the acrilic gesso.

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When I was taking an oil painting course we used acrylic gesso and both clear and stained shellac for prepping and sealing our surfaces. Gesso was used for the canvas, and shellac for the wood and paper. Some assignments started as charcoal studies on paper, which we would then shellac to seal.

All of these assignments have lasted for the last 3 years, but I’m unsure if this is able to answer your question about how archival your method is. Rather, I just wanted to offer shellac as a sealer alternative.

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I apply 2 coats of GAC 100 from Golden. It keeps the oil from sinking in the wood even if you gesso them. So it’s 2 coats of GAC 100 then 3 coats of Gesso. If you only use Acrylics, no need to seal the wood. Just gesso is enough :slight_smile:

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