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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • oil on birch plywood exampleApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2016-12-23 16:02:53 ... Most recent comment 2016-12-23 16:42:00
    Rigid Supports Oil Paint
    I just asked about painting oils on birch plywood, which I do directly, no primer. To see an example go to> galleries> painting and click on the thumbnail at the bottom left of a man in a blue sweater. That is an example. you can see the raw wood of the plywood. The painting is 2or 3 years old an looks like the day I painted it. Will it hold up for 500 years?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    There is a great little article from Golden's archives which I am including below. As for painting directly onto an unprimed surface there are lots of variables to consider if you are wanting something to last. There are a few examples of painted altar frontals and archiectural elements (oil paint) that have survived well in certain instances but much of this has to do with their environment and honestly sheer luck in some instances. In any case plywood is far less likely to react adversely to the acidity of the oil paint than say canvas supports will. Your main concern with any plywood is the quality of the support as well as taking care to prevent potential warping (again warping has much to do with the environment your painting lives in). You can read up more about these things in our "Rigid Supports" document in the Resources section (be sure to scroll down to check the references as well as there are lots of hyperlinks) and the article included below. If your painting is going into a controlled environment, I would say painting directly onto marine ply should be ok but if not you may experience paint loss (again this depends on your painting technique as well). No matter what, keep in mind that as oil paint ages it becomes more transparent over time so the wooden support will begin to show through more and more as time progresses. This may be something that you learn (or your clients/collectors learn) to love over time as it does not necessarily mean that anything "bad" is happening to the is simply a natural change that occurs with age.

    Baade, Brian
    2016-12-23 16:57:30
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerPlease note: I have included a couple of points in this response (e.g. painting on marine ply) to address another very similar question we just received regarding birch ply supports on another thread.
    Baade, Brian
    2016-12-23 17:02:29
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerJust a quick note - a more permanent, stable link to the referenced Just Paint article in Brian's response can be found here:


    Sarah Sands
    Senior Technical Specialist
    Golden Artist Colors

    Sands, Sarah
    2016-12-24 13:08:11
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentJust to add to the fine comments of Brian Baade and Sarah Sands- that in the areas of the painting which are unpainted birch plywood, in your painting-"man in a blue sweater" and if the painting is unvarnished and remains so - then dirt/grime deposits that accumulate over time on the painting surface will eventually discolor the light tone of the birch plywood by either residing in the grain of the wood or on the plywood surface. Such discoloration may be irreversible and not removeable. Alexander W. Katlan, Painting Conservator
    2016-12-26 16:38:11

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