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Some General Tips on Using Oils

Most oil painters choose Gessobord over Claybord for their work in oil because they prefer a less absorbent panel. Gessobord needs no preparation and may be used right out of the wrapper. However, some oil painters prefer Claybord because they work in many layers with glazing techniques. The absorbency of the clay enhances their technique and adds unique style to their images. Read through the information on both panels and decide which one is suitable for your needs. Our product comparison chart is also a good resource for choosing the right panel.

Completed paintings should be sealed with a varnish for protection and to bring out the luster in your paints. The paint must be thoroughly dry before varnishing. This drying time will vary greatly from one painting to another. Our panels do not lessen the six month (rule of thumb) required drying time. Although your oil paint will be dry to the touch in a few days, it may still need more drying time before it is ready to varnish. To see if your painting is dry enough to varnish, lightly press your fingernail into the thickest area of paint. If it will not leave a mark, you may varnish the painting.

Using Claybord & Oils

Oil painting on prepared panels is an art that dates back centuries. Traditionally, panels were prepared with a mixture of chalk and hide glue. Modern 'gesso' contains acrylic polymer binders that render the surface less absorbent than Claybord. Claybord's absorbent coating will cause oil paints, when applied to the untreated surface, to dry very rapidly and to a matte finish. This characteristic is ideal when working with underpainting and oil glazes. However, if you do plan to try oils on Claybord, you may try one of the following steps to prepare the panel first to lessen the absorbency if desired. Once prepared, subsequent layers of paint will dry more slowly and maintain their luster.

If you like the quick drying time of the Claybord panel, no additional preparation is necessary. If you want it to act more like a panel with acrylic gesso or a smooth primed canvas, use the following tips to prepare your panel or try our Gessobord which is especially designed for oil and acrylic paints.

1. Seal the entire board by using an “oiling out” process on the surface before beginning your painting.

"Oiling Out" Procedure:

First, apply a liberal coating of 1:1 drying oil (such as linseed oil) or a fluid, commercially available Painting Medium and Solvent (such as OMS) to the Claybord surface. Next, allow the medium to be absorbed into the surface for approximately two minutes. Finally, wipe off the excess painting medium with a soft, lint-free cloth. This “oiling out” procedure can also be applied to a finished painting after it is completely dry or just to an area that may need to be enlivened.


2. Apply an underpainting of a neutral oil color or a commercially available oil medium. Keep the “fat over lean” principles in mind.


3. Try adding more medium to your paint to allow better flow and paint consistency when using Claybord. Again, remember the “fat over lean” principles and be aware of the amount of medium in the mixture. Oil paint mediums can be thought of as 50% fat content.

4. Apply a thin layer of oil painting ground to the Claybord surface. Use a trowel to apply a very thin layer of either Gamblin Oil Painting Ground or Daniel Smith’s White Oil Gesso. Both products are made using alkyd resins that dry quickly and when applied to the clay surface, create the most beautiful ground for oil painting. A single coat on the Claybord surface will most often dry overnight and be ready to paint.

NOTE: Although you can completely remove the pigments from your Claybord panel with mineral spirits or sand paper, the oils and resins in your paint may stain the board. Also, a mixed media approach can be helpful when using Claybord. Try beginning with a thin acrylic wash as an underpainting, scratch into the surface to create detail, and then glaze over detail areas with oil washes. For best results, allow your composition to dry overnight before applying oil washes on top of a fresh underpainting and detail areas because the paint may appear to be dry when in reality, it's still wet underneath.

Using Gessobord & Oils

Need more time to paint? Use Gessobord instead of preparing your own panels and canvases. It was designed specifically for use with oil and acrylic paints. When using oils on Gessobord, paint with natural bristle brushes. The pigment will release more easily and brushes will be easier to clean. To thin oil paint, there are many commercially available mediums depending on your needs and preferences. A common medium is a 1:1 ratio of linseed oil and solvent. For washes, thin oil paint with solvent (such as OMS). Always remember to paint "fat over lean”, meaning, start painting with less oil or medium mixed with your paint. Gradually mix in more oil with your paint as you move towards finishing the painting. This will help to prevent cracking and peeling of paint in the future. If you need to work more quickly, try completing an underpainting in acrylic or alkyd paints, finishing with oil glazes last.