Oil painting substrates; Multimedia Artboard

plein air painting board

The last few paintings I've featured from my recent France travels are done on Multimedia Artboard. I posted about this surface before when I was getting ready for my trip, and I thought I'd write a little more about it as a follow up. I really enjoyed this surface, especially for traveling and painting en plein air. For one thing, it is very thin, so you can pack a good number of these boards and not take up a ton of room in your suitcase. You can also cut the board to size very easily with either a guillotine-type paper cutter or an exacto knife.

In fact, it is so lightweight that when I first ordered this material I thought I had been sent the wrong product. I was expecting a board, and what I got was something that seemed more like a rigid watercolor paper. I even called the manufacturer to ask about it. I will say that the manufacturer was extremely helpful, and was almost at a point where he was willing to ship me some board from his own stock so that I'd have some for my trip, even though I hadn't originally purchased it from him. But he told me, "If it's my board it should be very rigid. In fact, it will shatter if you try to bend it." Sure enough, when I put it to the test, it did.

That's the one thing to be careful of with this product--but protect the corners in travel and don't drop it from a balcony, and you should be fine. It has a rough side and a smoother side to it, so you have a choice on which side to paint, depending on your needs. I also like that it accepts a variety of media--watercolor, acrylic AND oil. It can accept oils either as is, or primed, if you wish, with gesso. I double primed mine, but it was a little slick, so I think next go around I'll try it unprimed to see what that's like.

While the board is rigid, because it is thinner than a "board", I taped mine to a larger board (gatorboard or coroplast) to give me a stronger work surface.  For framing, I can simply pop it in a frame backed by a sturdier board and it's ready to go.

I am finding the Multimedia Artboard much easier to mount and frame after the fact than the other surface I took with me, a fine-weave primed linen. And while linen has luxurious qualities all its own, I can easily and happily see myself going back and forth between these two surfaces for my plein air painting travels.