Watercolor ground and cradled panels

Exciting. I am going to be using for the first time cradled poplar plywood panels and watercolor ground as a canvas for my coming trio of watercolor paintings.

So here I will post some details on my preparations for the panels, prior to starting to paint on them.

The panels I am using are Belle Arti 40x40cm cradled panels. I loved the wooden non primed or painted sides so I will be careful not to stain there any ground or color and let the natural wood show in all of the ends in final pieces.

Beautiful wooden sides (finished panels, not sanded)

As water color ground I chose Daniel Smith per what I’ve read in books and online but there are also other brands available.

I got the titanium White Watercolor Paint Ground. The ground comes also as transparent and tinted options, but I wanted to get titanium white to ensure possible background is not visible (not an issue if primed with gesso). The white is also good for any rescue operations on top of the painting if needed.

In the end I did not use the roller at all, but instead my large flat Daler & Rowney 2″ brush. (which I normally use in water color washes, but it is fine after rinsing)

Applying Ground

The panels were already primed with gesso so I sanded the surface a bit before applying Daniel Smith Watercolor Paint ground (two layers). For the first layer I used 40g of the ground and added ~4 grams of water (my scale is not this accurate, but I tried to keep it at max 10% water added to the ground). This mixed amount was almost sufficient to cover all of the three canvases, but I had to add a few teaspoons for the last panel. I did not make too thick layers and after drying (24h) I added another layer. I did not dilute the ground for the second layer at all (since probably I should not have diluted at all in the first place, but at least it spread easier).

  • Daniel Smith actually recommends using Watercolor Ground straight from the container
  • and when using the Watercolor Ground for a work in progress (on top of painting), then thin Watercolor Ground with up to 10% of water

I ended up using the entire jar for the three panels. I used a tiny left over amount on a plain small plywood panel so I can test the color use at least a bit before hitting the big canvas. (unfortunately just one layer of ground in the test panel, but lets see)

Final prepared panel surface (I will still sand the edges and tape them, just in case, before I start painting)

Why panels

I opted for the canvases and ground since I did not want to be investing hundreds of euros in framing the three pieces (quality framing, one max A3, would cost around 100-200€ to frame). You can also mount a paper on plain plywood board (glue paper with acrylic gel), but in my opinion that would still require some kind of framing or cradle, although it could be also nice as is. So I could have also now, instead of using the ground, mounted a paper painting to the ready cradled panel. (I will probably try this too at some point)

I simply do not have the skills (and time) to make frames, nor tools and space to be cutting plywood to wanted dimensions. Then to have those ready cut will again increase the costs. In case of handling all the wood myself, I would also need to ensure all the materials are acid free. So, too much effort for me at this point.

In both ground+panel and paper+panel combinations perhaps the best point is that glass framing can be skipped. So instead of glass framing I am opting to varnish my paintings with wax. For the finishing there could be also used acrylic polymer varnish instead of wax. (I will get to more detail on finishing in a future post, once I am varnishing the new paintings)

Question on whether to frame or use panels is also up to personal preferences and/or wanted end result, not just about the costs. The glass could be also replaced by some plastic (acid free) option to make the framed painting lighter and more transportable. I preferred in this case to use panels for the end result to be more earthy, also reflecting the theme of the to-be-still-painted-paintings.

Normally I would just paint on what ever paper I choose and then simply archive the piece in acid free sleeve but now I need to create new pieces for display so I wanted to use panels from the start. (more on the reason and finished paintings in future posts! 😉 )


5 Comments Add yours

  1. It is such a coincidence to see your post about this technique as I have just received Liz Chaderton’s book I ordered from Amazon specifically explaining how to go about using watercolour on canvas. I look forward to seeing your results! Happy painting!


    1. soila says:

      Awesome, I also purchased that book earlier as kindle version 🙂 it is very nice, a lot of information. Enjoy the reading and happy painting also! I just yesterday tried a bit of color on my tiny test board and it looks so nice.


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